Was That a Shipwreck? (Episode 5-5)

After two crappy commercials and a few lost diamonds, this week’s Apprentice ended with Trump firing Gold Rush Project Manger Dan. Even though Dan managed his team to a loss, he didn’t deserve to go before the world’s stupidest genius, Tarek.

This week’s task was to promote Norwegian Cruise Line’s (NCL) new “Freestyle Cruising” program. Freestyle cruisers can dine or use the ship’s workout facilities whenever they want — as if gorging on free crab legs for a week straight isn’t exercise enough.

Teams had to film a 30-second commercial while onboard one of NCL’s liners, the Norwegian Jewel. They had three hours to film before the boat left port.

Dan led Gold Rush with a frenzied style, yelling and gesturing as he rapidly tried to execute Lenny’s idea involving a shipwrecked man rescued by the Norwegian Jewel. The idea violates rule #1 in the cruising industry: don’t remind the customer that the boat might sink.

Dan shrugged off Lenny’s plan to tell the castaway’s story through a voiceover, and instead used Tarek’s idea of subtitles. The end result was a confusing spot that left the NCL executives wondering why the lead actor had seaweed on his head.

Synergy’s commercial wasn’t much better. They contrasted traditional cruises with the new “Freestyle” program by showing black and white footage of an unhappy couple being served champagne, followed by color footage of people having fun at all hours on the Norwegian Jewel. It was amateurish, but at least its message was clear — and it had a voiceover, so that people not actively watching the commercial would at least still hear it.

During the task, Andrea did her best to derail Project Manager Roxanne’s efforts. Still smarting from Roxanne’s recent boardroom assertion that Andrea wasn’t as good a leader as Tammy, Andrea objected to all of Roxanne’s proposals — good or bad — throughout the task.

Somehow, Andrea convinced herself that her objections were in the best interest of the team, not in the name of petty retribution. She was so focused on getting Roxanne fired that Andrea actually looked disappointed when Synergy won.

Maybe the task’s reward, $30,000 worth of diamonds, cheered Andrea up. But probably not, since she had Roxanne to thank for it.

Synergy was taken to a Brink’s warehouse to learn about diamonds. Inside of a vault containing over $100 million in diamonds, an expert instructed the team on how to carefully inspect the gems. The candidates struggled with their tweezers, accidentally flinging several diamonds onto the floor. Once they were able to get a grip on the stones, each member was allowed to pick a diamond to take home.

Before Gold Rush headed to the boardroom, Tarek strategized with Dan. The plan was to point the finger at Lenny and Lee. But Tarek reminded Dan that, inside the boardroom, no one was his friend.

That comment made it easier for Dan to bring Tarek back in with him once everyone blamed Tarek’s worthless text for their loss. Dan stuck with the plan to bring Lee as well, although no one understood exactly how Lee contributed to the team’s failure.

This season, Trump’s favorite criterion for firing people is to axe Project Managers who don’t bring obvious choices into the boardroom. Trump felt that Lenny belonged in the boardroom for suggesting the original shipwreck idea, and Dan was fired for declining to bring Lenny in.

This firing strategy allowed the weakest remaining competitor, Tarek, to continue. Despite three trips to the boardroom, and after making major mistakes during tasks, Tarek is still in the game. There’s no way an employer would tolerate that, especially if it came at the expense of a first time offender like Dan. Tarek has no chance of winning, and his presence reminds viewers of that, week after week.

The only reason Trump keeps Tarek around is to toy with him. Since the season’s first episode, Trump has made witty remarks like, “I think the Mensa people should change the test.” We already understand that Tarek isn’t as smart as he thinks he is. It’s time for Trump to move on to a new joke.

Next week, the candidates sing, and the show moves to 10 p.m. Eastern time. Since my NCAA bracket was decimated this weekend, I may actually tune into The Apprentice instead of basketball.