The Beer Was Free (Episode 1-11)

Two contestants were shown the door on tonight’s episode of The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. Matchstick’s embarrassing airline commercial inspired Martha to fire both Ryan and Marcela. Looks like someone needs to buy Ryan a drink.

The three-person wrecking crew, Primarius, has been on a roll the last few tasks. Dawna, Bethenny, and Jim have found an effective way to work together, and Bethenny was able to capitalize her team’s momentum as this week’s Project Manager. She made most of the major decisions about Primarius’ 30-second commercial, leaving the administrative tasks to Dawna. Jim was given assignments that would keep him out of trouble, including drawing up the storyboard and schmoozing the actors who’d be starring in the commercial.

Primarius listened to the executives of Song airlines while designing their commercial. The executives specified that the target audience was women in their 40s. Bethenny crafted a spot featuring a married couple, a mother with a child, and a businessman; each vignette showed people that the target audience could relate to, either as a wife, a mother, or a business traveler.

Matchstick took the opposite approach. Project Manager Ryan disregarded the airline executives’ suggestions about target audience and made a commercial for his target audience: himself. Fulfilling his dream to play professional baseball in a really pathetic way, Ryan starred in the commercial as a ballplayer who’s missed his team’s flight. The frequent fliers who judged the ad’s success were treated to bad acting and shots of Ryan in his undies. In the end of the commercial, Ryan sat next to a boxer who’s delighted not to be traveling with his own team. Many viewers were probably surprised to find out that they even have boxing teams.

Like all the best boxers, Marcela decided to be a team player, and she went along with Ryan’s foolish decisions. On several occasions, she did object to the direction the commercial was taking. Unfortunately, by the time she complained, the editing process was well underway and Ryan was half in-the-bag. Apparently, the editing studio had a fridge stocked with beer. Ryan assumed that the editors did all of their work with a buzz, so he helped himself to a few bottles.

It was somewhere around beer number nine that Ryan decided that wordplay and subliminal messages were the key to a quality product. The result was a silly commercial that didn’t target the appropriate audience, didn’t convey the important points about the product, and didn’t test well with the frequent fliers. Bethenny and Dawna may have been on to something when they forbade anyone to give Jim alcohol.

The prize for another Primarius rout was a trip to Martha’s estate to ride horses and play Scrabble with her. Many of Martha’s rewards have been low key, but that’s what’s cool about them. Riding in a helicopter or on a yacht is nice, but everything is better when a celebrity is involved. Yardwork with Regis Philbin, grocery shopping with Katie Couric, ultrasound sessions with Tom and Katie: all way cooler than some dumb boat ride.

Ryan took the blame for the commercial’s failure in the conference room. He didn’t help himself when he justified drinking on the job by saying, “The beer was free.” Martha and the viceroys were also fed up with Marcela’s lack of leadership, so both candidates were shown the door.

Next week, the three remaining candidates face grueling job interviews. Jim’s won’t be able to mask his unprofessionalism, and he’s likely to be eliminated before the final task. Dawna is more than qualified to win the job, and Bethenny has shown amazing competence and an intensity that’s hard to ignore.