Premiering one year after the season was recorded creates a certain awkwardness… Wait! Look! It’s a Geraldo face!!The season kicks off with billionaire businessman Donald Trump gathering his new crew of celebrity underlings at Rockefeller Center in New York City. This group includes TV news journalist Geraldo Rivera, baseball player Johnny Damon, Beverly Hills 90210 and Sharknado star Ian Ziering, pop singer Kevin Jonas, NFL star Terrell Owens, Deadliest Catch crab boat captain Sig Hansen, comedian Gilbert Gottfried, actor Lorenzo Lamas, actress Vivica A. Fox, Olympic snowboarder Jamie Anderson, reality TV mom Kate Gosselin, The Cosby Show‘s Keshia Knight Pulliam, Real Housewife Brandi Glanville, Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson, Real Housewife Kenya Moore and TV host Leeza Gibbons.
After some jumbled talk about the significance of Rockefeller Center (It’s the home of NBC! John D Rockefeller was a philanthropist!), Trump announces the first of their all-new challenges. NO, it is not another “Who can raise the most money by selling pizza pies to their rich friends?” assignment. THIS TIME IS DIFFERENT. It’s a “Who can raise the most money by selling regular pies to their rich friends?” assignment. Each team is charged with concocting both a sweet and savory pie at a local Pie Face restaurant. The Cake Boss from Cake Boss will determine who has the best pie and reward that team an unspecified bonus. Whichever team raises the most cash wins the challenge, plus another $100,000 for the project manager’s charity, plus a $25K bump from Toshiba.
Trump splits the teams into boys vs. girls. The respective teams meet in their plush offices and choose a name. After the usual quibbling over which noun sounds more impressive, the men choose “Vortex” and the ladies choose “Infinity”. Geraldo and Keshia step forward as Project Managers.
Geraldo makes Kevin “Mr. 4.3 Million Twitter Followers” Jonas the social media czar. He charges Lorenzo, Kevin and Sig with cooking duties (which they immediately eff up by burning the crusts), then spends most of his time phoning rich friends. Gilbert offers to bring in some carnival-style street performer pals. Geraldo’s all “sure, whatevs”, which probably foreshadows much of what we’ll see from him this season.
The next day, Vortex opens for business and it’s a madhouse. Between Geraldo’s rich friends, Kevin’s throng of groupies, plus all the random folks Gilbert and Johnny draw from the street, there’s an endless line for slightly burnt pie. When Cake Boss comes by, he isn’t much impressed by their food. When Trump advisor Piers Morgan comes by, he notes that some people (ahem, Lorenzo) haven’t raised any money. Still, given all the big money donations from Totally Selfless and Likable Humans Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly, Vortex seems in a good position for winning.
Keshia immediately focuses on working the social media angle and puts youngins Shawn and Jamie in charge of that. Kate, Jamie and Shawn start working on the pies. Keshia gets a bit micro-manage-y about their taco pie concoction, suggesting they make it an enchilada pie. Some of the team members begin to wonder if Keshia is focused on the right things.
On the way to the opening, Kenya asks Keshia if she phoned Mr. Cosby for a donation. 1 Keshia says no. Team Infinity opens for business and the scene is rather… subdued. Some team members don’t know what to do with themselves. Piers notices this when he visits. On the upside, Cake Boss loves their gross berry pie.
Trump starts off by saying, “I hate to fire people,” then launches into his usual mind games, asking various players who should be canned. Keshia expresses confidence in her team and lauds Leeza’s fundraising abilities. But Shawn doubts Infinity won. Geraldo is pretty certain his team raised more money, but if he had to fire someone it would be one of those who raised the least cash (ahem, Lorenzo). While the Cake Boss did love Infinity’s gross berry pie (shout out to Jamie for the gross idea), that $25K bump wasn’t enough. Team Vortex wins.
While the men retire to the party lounge, Trump interrogates Team Infinity. Keshia notes that Jamie, Kate and Shawn raised the least cash. Kate says she worked hard despite being given little direction. Some team members scoff at Kate’s definition of “hard work” but Piers concurs leadership was lacking. Vivica gets weepy in defending Keshia. Kenya wonders why Keshia didn’t call Cosby (shudder). As always, Trump asks the Project Manager to pick two people who deserve to be fired. Keshia picks Jamie and Kate.
After Trump calls the three ladies back to the boardroom, he asks why Keshia chose gross berry pie genius Jamie. Keshia says Jamie raised little cash and doesn’t deserve full credit for the pie win. Trump advisor/daughter Ivanka notes that if it’s all about the money, maybe Keshia should have tried to raise more – in other words, she should have called Cosby (shudder). Trump admires Keshia’s work, offers $25K of his own cash to her charity, then fires her. No hugs, kisses or zerberts for Kate or Jamie as Keshia stoically departs by elevator.
- IMPORTANT NOTE – This season was filmed a year ago, when the name “Mr. Cosby” had a very different connotation for most viewers. ↵