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Quitters Never Prosper with 'Martha Stewart'

(Posted September 29, 2005 by Leah Yoakum)

LOS ANGELES ( Poor Martha. Ratings for her version of "The Apprentice" weren't as good as NBC had hoped. Her Roman-like conquest of American airwaves incomplete for now, Martha and her minions will continue to weed out the wannabes from the potential executives as long as the network will have them. And look stylish doing so. You go, girl.

As we pick up with the remaining 15 contestants, we're given a recap of what happened in last week's premiere. Once again, we see the peeps divide into two teams -- Matchstick the "creative" team and Primarius the "corporate" team -- and take on writing a childrens' book for Random House. Because of Jeff's bizarre take on "Hansel & Gretel," as well as his ridiculous handling of the Dawn situation, Jeff was ushered into the sunset when Martha uttered her first firing: "You just don't fit in. Goodbye." It's like a Talbot's version of "Heathers" up in there.

Dawn and Jim come back to the loft after being spared, and Jim immediately launches into one of his trademark blustery monologues about how he was responsible for Jeff's ousting. In interview, Jim confesses that he wants the rest of the players to fear him. "Don't come after me," he says -- which is the surest way to get people to come after you. Candidate Sarah thinks Jim is unstable, and Dawn disagrees with Jim's assessment that he was the lone architect of Jeff's firing.

Jim says it was like he had a scyth and he just cut Jeff off at the ankles. "Later, biotch!," he exclaims. Jim has a manly, business-like acumen -- in case you didn't notice.

The next morning, Julia the British Secretary calls the loft -- Howie answers -- and tells them that, since Martha's so busy this morning, they are to "meet" her in front of the video monitor inside the apartment. Via video from a flower market, Martha explains that flowers are a big part of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Incorporated 'R' Us, and tells the candidates about their next task: They're to open a retail flower shop, and whichever store makes the most revenue wins.

Matchstick decides to make designer Chuck the Project Manager, considering he has some expertise in the flower arena. He explains in interview that he's done freelance work in flowers -- and somehow, I believe him. Chuck's idea is to sell "simple spring blooms" that need no arranging.

He heads down to the wholesale flower market with David and Shawn in search of tulips. In short order they are promised 2,000 blooms the next day fresh from Holland. They call back to the loft and, from there, everything begins to go straight to Hell.

Jim wants Chuck to hold off on buying the flowers because he thinks they need to get their marketing plan in order first. Of course, Jim being Jim, he can't articulate this properly. Bethenny takes the phone away from him to try and make some headway, but is prevented from doing so by Jim repeatedly shouting, "Let me talk to him."

"There's something seriously wrong with our team," Shawn observes.

And is it just us or do Shawn and Martha's daughter Alexis look remarkably similar? Do you think Martha is going to end up giving Shawn preferential treatment? Then again, she and Alexis could get in a spat and Martha might take that with her to the boardroom

Charles quickly loses control of Matchstick and at one point throws up his hands and says that he's going to hand over his management responsibilites to somebody else and leave the loft. Jim, of course, wants him to stay so that he can use Chuck's rapidly growing list of weaknesses against him at a later time. Chuck manages to rally and for a brief moment, becomes focused and task oriented.

Over at Primarius, the corporate types realize that they have no business in the flower business and project manager Carrie forgets to brush her hair. Or maybe she's on her way to a heavy metal video audition. Either way, tone it down.

Jennifer comes up with the idea to outsource much of the responsibility. The team hires a celebrity florist, Rene, who has worked with "Sex and the City" and Oprah Winfrey. He's a bit dubious at first and insists that the only way to sell high-end flowers is to not give a discount.

Back at Matchstick, it's 9 p.m. and nobody has gotten the word out that they will be selling flowers the next day. Bethenny, Dawn and Marcela get gussied up in little black dresses and literally hit the streets, walking up to strange men in cars and asking them if they want to "come visit" their new flower shop.

1) Nobody takes them up on the easily misconstrued offer (probably because of the TV cameras), 2) They don't get arrested. However, Dawn does label it the "most despicable day" of her life.

The trio stops by the store and Jim asks Dawn to run out and by some Brasso for the door handle. She refuses, saying it's a waste of resources. Jim decides that Dawn must go for this show of resistance and immediately starts campaigning the other team members that she's who should be railroaded if they lose.

The next day, Rene and his team have set up shop for Primarius, all of whom are dressed entirely in black, looking less like flower peddlers than, oh say, publicists, hairdressers or waiters.

Of course, their wardrobe is not an issue as people start coming in off the street and then turn around and leave when they get a dose of sticker shock from the prices. Howie starts preaching the word of the prices need to be lower. Carrie wants to respect Rene but realizes that in order to win they are going to have to be flexible. Amazingly, Rene gets on board, the prices drop and the flowers start flying out the door.

Charles notes that Matchstick is taking a different approach of "stack them high, stack them deep, move them out." Alas, this doesn't work out for them as they only take in $969 to Primarius' $1,886.

As a reward, Primarius gets to create a garden for a community center. This strikes us as more work, but Dawna tears up at the opportunity and Sarah notes, "Rewards aren't always about taking, sometimes they are about giving."

Well, fine, if you put it that way.

Jim has now moved on to labeling Dawn a "virus" and a "cancer" and has every intention of going into the boardroom and "selling her down the river." Chuck and Marcela see straight through him, and Dawn is prepared as well since she's sitting 20 feet away when Jim makes his intentions known.

In the boardroom, Chuck takes responsibility for the team's failure, saying that he may not have the skill set to manage a fleet of people. Jim tries to get the situation spun into his favor by talking up Chuck and tearing down Dawn. Dawn has had plenty of time to prepare and rattles off a list of her contributions.

Martha notes that Jim appears to have an agenda.

Come to think of it, Martha shares a lot more of her business philosophies than Donald Trump ever does. When Shawn asks for some words of advice, Martha says she can't help the team get along or communicate. But she finds them all "shameful," hates "quitters" and tells Bethenny, "Cry and you're out of here, my dear. Women in business don't cry."

"What a revolting development," is Charles summary of the Matchstick team dynamic.

Chuck brings Jim and Dawn back into the boardroom with him. Martha sternly tells them that they need to work out their differences, but ultimately she's made up her mind that Charles isn't executive management material. Probably, because he just told her he isn't.

She sends him off with a "good luck and good-bye" and sees him out the door.

Courtney Potter lives in Los Angeles, writes the "TV Best Bets" column for and wears an ankle bracelet tracking device -- but just for fun.

Brill Bundy also lives in Los Angeles, is the managing editor of, and used to date a guy whose perfect woman was Uma Thurman but whose fantasy menage a trois consisted of Martha Stewart and Hillary Rodham Clinton.

Source: Zap2it

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