Only two episodes into the season, and already some of the flaws of The Apprentice brand are apparent in the new Martha Stewart edition. The producers, feeling the need to fill the role of villain, have cast someone really annoying and not all that villainous. Jim’s rabid push to get Dawn fired isn’t conniving or strategic. He’s acting like a bully, and everyone knows that you don’t have to be particularly clever to be a bully.
Understandably, each subsequent season of any reality show is tainted by contestants who’ve been exposed to the show. These contestants are familiar with types of people that were cast previously as well as what kind of conduct makes it to air.
The Real World may be the worst example of this trend. Today’s cast members are nothing like the original cast, but the first version set the mold that’s still in use. There’s always a girl from the sticks with sex issues (too much or too little of it), a jock who plays around, a minority, a nosy alterna-chick, and a homosexual. The Austin cast, while lacking a strict homosexual, has a couple of girls who will kiss each other in public when intoxicated. I suppose that counts.
Unfortunately for The Apprentice, producers have been keen on having one outright villain each season. Omarosa, the original Apprentice bad girl, has become synonymous with reality TV knavery, so much so that one needs to refer to her by first name only. (It hardly bears noting that one may not know how to spell her last name).
What Omarosa had that the would-be scoundrels who’ve followed her have lacked is a total absence of self-awareness. Viewers saw Omarosa being herself, with every move and statement she made justified in her own mind. It made no sense to her that people would be upset that she played basketball within hours of claiming a head injury and bailing out of work.
Anyone cast to stir up trouble after that knew that they’d get airtime if they held fast to ridiculous positions and pretended that they believed everything they said. Jim is very clearly putting on an act. In the boardroom, he oversells his nodding and agreeing with Martha and the viceroys. He barks orders and makes noise far longer than anyone who was really trying to make a point would; in reality, you’d just throw up your hands, call everyone else an idiot and leave the room.
Jim’s just annoying at this point, and his agenda against Dawn makes it clear that this is an act, not some eccentric fixation. If we’re lucky, the fact that he’s already been in the conference room twice should show Martha that Jim just doesn’t fit in.