Circus of the Damned (Episode 1-13)

In what proved to be this season’s most uncomfortable hour of television, Dawna was chosen as the winner of The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. Despite the fact that nobody wanted to be there, and nobody would be watching anyway, Martha and the crew gave a resentful, half-hearted effort for the finale.

The show began with footage of Bethenny and Dawna working with their teams in the final hours before their events. All of the pieces of Bethenny’s circus fell into place, despite the fact that no members of her team knew what they were supposed to be doing. Bethenny remained confident, positive that nothing could go wrong so long as she just did everything herself.

Families came in droves to attend the circus. Bethenny managed to round up some cool items for the silent auction, including lessons at trapeze school. The circus performance went off without a hitch, mostly because it was performed by professionals instead of Jim walking a high wire as Carrie and Ryan juggled. When it was all over, Bethenny gave her team what Jim described as a “lukewarm handshake,” and sped off in her private car.

As a side note, the circus performance in the club did give me a better idea of what some of the locations in Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series must look like. The floor shows at Guilty Pleasures and Danse Macabre must be held in an area like the one on tonight’s episode of The Apprentice. However, if Bethenny tried to stage her circus in the world of Anita Blake, she’d have to make sure that every man’s nipples were visibly erect. But I digress.

Dawna’s fashion show didn’t seem to be going all that well. She’d delegated too much work to Amanda, and that was definitely Dawna’s fault. But when Dawna and Sarah offered to help, Amanda’s pride wouldn’t let her take them up on it. Consequently, Amanda was called out by a Liz Claiborne executive for misnaming items of clothing, coordinating bad outfits, running late, and mispronouncing the name “Liz Claiborne.” When Amanda finally fessed up to having more work than she could handle, it was only after she’d already missed the deadline for getting the show programs to the printer.

Amazingly, the fashion show began on time, only with programs that had no Liz Claiborne logo and lots of off-center text. The L.C. exec expressed her disappointment with the program to Sarah. But she was happy with the end result, commending Dawna on a job well done. For the first time all season, we saw Dawna emote, getting teary-eyed as she watched the final model walk down the runway. If I saw someone walking toward me in a dress that ugly, I’d probably cry, too.

In contrast to Bethenny’s team, Dawna’s team rallied around her, and she made sure to thank everyone individually. They gave one final team cheer, and Dawna drove off, again with tears in her eyes. Even Howie was bummed, knowing that they wouldn’t see Dawna again until the finale.

The live portions of the finale were held on the chic — and not at all last minute — set of Martha’s daytime talk show. That program is filmed in New York City, and Martha grumbled about how hard the transit strike made it to get to the finale, which she didn’t want to attend in the first place. As my brother would say: “Salt!” Martha blandly read from cue cards, going so far as to read the numbers of the questions she asked the finalists’ teammates: “Question number one: Amanda, what does Dawna lack as a leader?” Martha sounded more like Alex Trebek than Donald Trump.

Then it was time to ask the viceroys’ opinions. Charles said some crap about Bethenny, and then Alexis prefaced her comments saying viewers could hear her real thoughts about Dawna on her daily show on Sirius Satellite Radio. Great! Alexis was so over The Apprentice that she only showed up so she could plug her radio show. Mother will make sure that sassy young lady goes to bed without dessert tonight.

Viewers were treated to montages of footage from the finalists’ life outside of the show. Hyperactive Bethenny was shown multitasking, and we saw a side of Dawna we’d never seen before. She publishes a women’s sports magazine with her husband, drawing on her background as an athlete. After watching the entire season, I never would’ve guessed Dawna was the least bit athletic, or the type who could work with her spouse. It was a strange choice to wait until the finale to make Dawna relatable and interesting.

When it came time to announce her decision, Martha started with Bethenny’s flaws. She described Bethenny as a show-off who needs to make her presence felt in a very physical and inappropriate way. Then Martha told Dawna that she had better business experience and was the winner. No fond wishes for Bethenny or assurances she’d be a success elsewhere, just some cruel digs. Dawna got a job at a new Martha health magazine, as well a Buick Lucerne, surprise, surprise. All Bethenny got was a beatdown on national TV.