Most reality series offer contestants some motivation to ditch their dignity, but The Apprentice is the first to offer winners a $250,000 job at Trump Enterprises. (Plus, what would a chance to uncover the secret behind the Donald’s eerily inorganic hair be worth? Priceless.) While most other shows jazz up the cutthroat competition with some exotic theme-park premise, The Apprentice shoots for unbridled, fangs-bared capitalism.
That’s the idea, anyway, but so far Trump’s probably been too distracted by miniskirts and tight blouses to notice anyone’s fangs. He has divided his 16 wannabe moguls into two teams, male versus female. And while the men’s style ranges from corporate stooge to casual Friday, the women go more for the Ally McBeal-meets-Carrie Bradshaw look. (Who says TV isn’t a positive influence on the culture?) The women’s working methods match their look. In the first mission—selling lemonade on the street—the women used their feminine wiles to convince strangers to pay $5 for a watered-down drink, beating the guys, who appeared far more organized. They aced the second mission, too—a marketing campaign for a corporate jet company—by putting together striking ads that played on the plane’s phallic imagery and dressing up as flight attendants for the presentation. “This testicles ad may jeopardize our ability to win!” gripes one of the women. “You’ve set the women’s movement back 70 years!” says the ad agency director, just before he chooses the women’s testicles over the men’s stodgy, generic offering.
The Apprentice offers a confusing view of gender circa 2004. The female team bickers and backbites, while the guys appear hesitant and touchy-feely, sensitive to each other’s feelings. So far, Trump has enjoyed egging on the girls to whip these wusses, knowing that all is fair in love and reality TV.