'The Celebrity Apprentice' Recap: Puppets Behaving Badly

April 16th, 2012 7:11pm EDT

THE CELEBRITY APPRENTICE -- 'Puppet Up' Previously, on Celebrity Apprentice: Teresa Giudice’s team Unanimous won the competition for best ‘commercial.’ It was Lou Ferrigno and his 110% effort that left, after a nasty exchange of words with Lisa Lampanelli.

Dayana Mendoza and Lisa returned to the suite after the firing. Clay Aiken took offense to Lisa’s triumphant, “We did it.” Clay wonders about Lisa’s attitude. With only three members left on Team Forte, everyone wonders if someone from Team Unanimous will be sent over to the enemy. Aubrey O’Day hopes that Clay and Arsenio Hall, who have become good friends, will be split up.

Teresa meets with the family of Matthew Levine, and is thrilled to present them with the check for $60,000.00, for her charity, the NephCure Foundation.

Trump and Trumpettes Ivanka and Eric, along with Muppet creator Jim Henson’s son Brian, meet the celebrities in the ‘great, great’ F.A.O. Schwartz toy store. Brian Henson runs “Stuffed and Unstrung,” a live, improv puppet show aimed at adults. Their task is to build two original puppet characters, and then perform those puppets in front of a live audience, working with cast members of the show. Ivanka and Eric will be the advisors. Since the task requires four members on each team, Clay is shifted to Forte, to work with Lisa, Penn Jillette, and Dayana. Lisa wonders if their tiff from the other day will be a problem.

The teams will be judged on puppet design, the overall quality of the puppeteering and improv, and the total live performance.

Lisa volunteers to be her team’s Project Manager, and Paul Teutel Sr. takes on the job for his team, although he knows nothing about improv. The winning team’s PM will receive $20,000.00 for his or her charity.

Heading back to their war room, Lisa asks Clay if he’s good at improv, and Clay says he’s done a little. The bigger surprise is that Clay has years of experience with puppeteering, which he learned at his church. He’s a little worried about working with Team Forte, having established good relationships during his time on Unanimous.

Dayana says that she’s been studying improve for a year and a half, but Lisa shoots her down, as she’s been doing improv for 23 years. Dayana wants to do a Latina character, and feels she could do it. Lisa finds it a little insulting that Dayana presumes that her studies make her equal to established performers Lisa, Clay and Penn. Lisa’s worried that Dayana will whine until a fight starts, and Lisa’s determined to do one whole task without fighting.

Unanimous are looking to create something very different for their task. Aubrey is still being quiet, and not contributing as much as before the board room battle with Clay and Arsenio. Teresa thinks they should make two characters that resemble Aubrey and Arsenio.

Aubrey’s worried. Except for Arsenio and herself, there are no other performers. Teresa and Paul have no experience in improv, and Aubrey’s still treading carefully, as she wants to be seen as a team player. She’s going to have to lay back, rather than push forward, during the task, and it’s already driving her crazy.

She’s right to worry. Paul’s back went out that morning, and he’s in a lot of pain. He’s also not sure of what’s required for this task. The team watches a video clip of the “Stuffed and Unstrung” show to get an idea of what they need to do. Arsenio is impressed at how well Aubrey is working with the team, stepping up as needed, but deferring to the PM.

They decide that Teresa and Arsenio will handle the puppets, and Aubrey will be the host. Paul’s glad to lay back and nurse his sore back as coordinator. He reminds everyone that he took this job without any idea of how to do it, and he’ll need a lot of feedback.

Brian Henson and Patrick Bristow (Co-Creator/ Director/ Host) arrive to give team Unanimous a few pointers. For one thing, they can’t really rehearse anything, as the key to improv is winging it, whatever the audience throws at you. You have to trust each other, and yourself, to just say what comes to mind during the performance. This is very good new to Teresa.

When Brian and Patrick meet with Forte, Lisa asks for tips on characterization of the puppets. She’s advised that broader characters can play more roles. Lisa’s also well aware of the line between ‘blue’ or adult comedy, and classic comedy, and is advised that the classier route would be to indicate, but never specifically say anything too controversial.

Penn realizes that he’s too tall, at 6 foot 7, to work a puppet; he’ll have to be the host. That leaves Lisa and Clay to take on the puppet roles, and leaves Dayana pouting at once again having nothing to do. When Penn asks what voices Lisa can do, Clay stirs the pot by asking Lisa to do a ‘Spanish chick.’ Dayana takes great offense at Lisa’s attempt. She interviews that Lisa is disrespectful and unprofessional, but doesn’t say anything at the table. She waits to hear what her task will be. Lisa says that participating doesn’t always mean being on stage, while Clay says that puppet design is a large part of their task. Dayana’s convinced that Lisa is purposely giving her nothing to do, so that she can go into the Board Room once again calling Dayana ‘useless.’

Team Unanimous are delighted to visit the Jim Henson’s Creature Shop, where they will be designing their puppets. They choose a periwinkle blue froggish character, and a larger, yellow puppet that looks like a walking shag rug. Now they need to add facial features, hair, and accessories. Aubrey suggests that Arsenio’s puppet, Perry Winkle, have an orange Mohawk, while Teresa plans for her creature to be glamorous, and over the top. Teresa struggles to find a name for her character. Arsenio dubs it ‘Fabulina.’

Dayana’s a natural designing team Forte’s puppet, so good, in fact, that she’s offered a job! Penn’s a little jealous that the creature he and Clay work on doesn’t earn him a job offer as well. Clay’s big blue puppet looks a little like a punk rocker, while Lisa wants Dayana to make her orange puppet ‘purty’ and gorgeous. Aubrey thinks all of Teresa’s choices are tacky, and that Paul’s doing very little as PM.

The puppeteers and improv actors arrive to teach the teams how to manipulate the puppets, and to give a brief improv lesson. “Improv is just everyday life, confronted with fake circumstances. Just react to the circumstances,” says one actor. Clay and Lisa discover that it’s not so easy being a puppeteer, as they struggle to make the puppets move. Clay’s got the edge, though, with his past experience. “Church,” he brags to Lisa.

Aubrey quietly tries to let Teresa know that she’ll need lessons in both puppetry and improv, as she’s done neither before. Team Unanimous is still working on their puppets, as the teachers wait for them in another room. Paul isn’t taking control, so they’re wasting time fiddling with the puppets, rather than getting on with the next phase.

Teresa and Arsenio work with their coaches, while Aubrey gets a lesson in how to host. Teresa’s overwhelmed and nervous, and has difficulties with the puppets. Aubrey learns that she has to ‘end on a high,’ that is, on a great laugh, or a great line. She’s not worried; she’s confident that she has nothing to worry about, unlike her team mates.

The improv coach outlines the basics of improv; first, don’t deny, always agree with what the other players are proposing. Arsenio knows that it’s impossible to learn everything in one lesson, but he’s impressed with Teresa’s willingness to try anything. Teresa thinks that Paul is not contributing anything to the team. Aubrey notes that Teresa is trying her best, but that probably won’t be good enough.

Ivanka’s visit finds Paul being very quiet, due to his back pain. He mentions how creative Aubrey is, but Ivanka wonders if the dressing down that Aubrey took from the group has made Aubrey too quiet during the challenge. Ivanka interviews that Aubrey needs to find the balance between being deferential to the Project Manager, while still adding creative value to the team.

Forte’s Penn says, “I’m multi-tasking. I’m sewing horns on a monster, and I’m contemplating suicide. So two things are being done simultaneously.” Dayana continues to grudgingly work on her puppet, despite everyone’s enthusiastic approval. When Eric Trump arrives at the studio, Lisa is quick to point out that Dayana’s doing great work, but Dayana is snippy, and doesn’t meet Eric’s eye. Clay says that everyone is being a team player, and that the team is working well together. Eric notes that Dayana doesn’t really agree, although she makes no complaint. He wonders if it’s the tension between Dayana and Lisa that is making her uncomfortable.

At rehearsal, Penn’s eager and enthusiastic, while Dayana pouts. Clay thinks Lisa should have worked a little harder at finding something for Dayana to do. Penn gets into his hosting job, with the show catchphrase of “Puppet Up!” Dayana sits in the audience, quiet and straight faced. Penn’s impressed with Clay’s characterizations.

On with the show, this is it! Arsenio tries to give Teresa a few tips on how to do improv, but Aubrey just hopes Teresa’s childlike personality will save the day.

Forte’s Lisa likes to relax before a show, but when Clay wonders if Dayana could stand by the side of the stage handling props, Lisa loses it yet again. Lisa becomes infuriated with Dayana’s always wanting to be featured, and starts a harangue that makes it clear that she’ll never be BFF with Dayana. Ever. Clay tries to calm the situation so he himself can prepare to perform, but Lisa can’t stop screaming at Dayana, even putting down Dayana’s contribution to puppet creation. Finally, Dayana leaves the room in tears.

But Lisa’s not done. She then yells at Clay and Penn, asking them why they didn’t help her ‘manage’ Dayana. The responsibility of managing Dayana through every task is wearing her down, she says as she cries. Can’t anyone give her a little backup? Clay wonders if Dayana’s ‘stunning beauty’ makes Lisa feel threatened. Penn interviews that he doesn’t want to be part of someone who’s being loud and upsetting, and he goes outside to comfort Dayana. He lets her vent, but doesn’t offer any suggestions. Backstage, Lisa says she’s not going home because some bitch can’t stand being behind the camera.

Wow! That’s a lot of drama, and they’re not even on stage yet! Penn introduces Clay and Lisa, before getting the audience to yell out suggestions. They settle on “Bjork’s icefishing career in Iceland,” a piece on Genghis Khan, and a fake infomercial. Puppet Up! They do well, though Lisa has a critique about Penn’s hosting.

Next up are Team Unanimous. On the sidelines, Paul’s not feeling any pressure. Aubrey’s confident in her role as host. Arsenio’s up first as a Norwegian dentistry specialist. He fakes a Norwegian accent. Then Teresa and Arsenio play through a scene about Johnny Appleseed. Teresa breaks the first rule of improv right off the bat when she keeps turning down suggestions. To Aubrey’s surprise, Teresa’s voice and attitude still sell the scene. They do a fake infomercial on pantyhose, and Teresa does very well. So well, she’s now considering herself an expert on improv. Aubrey feels she did a good job, and behaved as a team player.

Eric (no sign of Ivanka) asks Brian and Patrick what they thought of the teams’ work. First off, Brian was impressed at how much was accomplished in one day. They thought Aubrey set up and ended the sketches properly, Arsenio was terrific, and Teresa broke a lot of improv rules. Lisa they expected to be great, and they were happy with how Clay stepped up, but Lisa got a little too explicit in their infomercial scene. They noted that Penn was good overall, but that he was slow on cutting the Genghis Khan scene at its natural ending point. And the winner is …

Ah, the Board Room. Trump’s first concern was for how Dayana got along with Lisa. “How everybody gets along with Lisa, I guess. Until she explodes.” Lisa graciously answered Trump’s question of what she thought of Dayana with a curt, “not much.” Get a room, you two!

While Lisa goes off on a diatribe about Dayana dissing the entire world of backstage workers in her quest to always be on stage, Dayana acts the innocent, who only had obedience to her Project Manager in mind. Trump is told that Lisa and Clay worked the puppets, while Penn “too big to puppeteer” Jillette acted as the host. Clay mentions that he himself was “too small to host.” Ivanka points out that Lisa did make the right decisions on whom to cast. Dayana says, that’s fine, but she wanted to do a little more than sit around and watch them rehearse. Lisa says that Dayana has limited skill sets, an accent, and doesn’t seem to realize that comedy is really hard to learn.

Since this makes sense, Trump wants to know why Dayana still looks so upset, and she says it’s about the level of aggression and disrespect that Lisa carries in herself and projects to others. She thinks that’s disrespectful and unprofessional.

Lisa dissolves into tears when Trump asks her who she’ll bring back to the Board Room, should her team lose. She says she hasn’t decided if she’ll bring anyone back. She’s a professional comedian who just wants to make people happy, not make girls cry. She might just bring herself in. She is not a villain, but she has strong opinions, and she hasn’t decided yet what she’ll do.

Trump says he sees her as a great comedian, albeit sort of villainous, but it looks like she’s going to go down as a much nicer and much different person than the world understands. He then asks Penn if he thinks comedians always have to be tough. Penn says that bravery is not an absence of fear; it’s actually facing the fear. You may have to act tough, but that doesn’t mean your heart doesn’t get broken.

Paul says he didn’t know a thing about puppets, but he stepped up as Project Manager because no one else wanted to. He thinks everyone on the team did well, and that they won. But he’d have to bring Teresa back as his weakest player, based on how she struggled with the puppet’s name, which leads to Ivanka telling Trump that Teresa’s daughter Milania is named after Trump’s wife. How can he fire her now? Ivanka also points out that Paul was handicapped this week by a bad back. Arsenio says Paul was their inspiration, because he didn’t quit.

Eric and Ivanka sum up the comments made by Brian and Patrick, adding that Dayana’s puppets were such a hit, the company might use them themselves in further shows. But the winning team is Lisa’s team Forte. Lisa’s charity, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, will receive the donation of $20,000.00. She cries happily to hear the outcome.

In the Forte suite, the team clink champagne glasses and wish each other congratulations. Clay toasts the charity and gay men in general. Dayana says she’s happy they finally won; she’d forgotten how champagne tasted! But she interviews that Lisa can change so quickly, she can’t be trusted. They watch as Trump lambasts Team Unanimous.

Arsenio agrees that their puppets were a little too specific, especially his rocker character. But he doesn’t feel he should be fired. Teresa says they all worked on the puppets; the final call was Paul’s. Paul thinks responsibility for the puppets rests with the person who would play the character, especially Teresa, who just kept adding embellishments. Teresa again says Paul was in charge, and that Paul should be fired as he did very little. And if anyone doesn’t move quickly, that’s Paul.

Aubrey takes the high road, saying that Paul was injured, and it’s not his field, so it was more difficult for him to contribute, while Teresa did contribute a lot. Paul starts to get angry, saying that he’s run his own business for 40 years, and he didn’t do that by sitting on his butt. Teresa carries on burying Paul by saying that he did nothing but sit around and swear all day. Ivanka says that, whether Paul was swearing or not, it can’t be very motivating for his team.

Yada yada, under the bus, I worked hard … it goes on and on. Surprisingly, Aubrey comes to Teresa’s defense, saying that Teresa has heart, stamina, and worked hard on the task. Arsenio says that Paul is very smart, an engineer who knows his stuff. When asked whom he would not bring back into the Board Room, Paul chooses Arsenio, as a person who brings a lot of versatility to the table, as well as having a history as a businessman.

Paul, Aubrey and Teresa wait nervously in the reception area, while Trump and family discuss who should be fired. Eric says it’s a tough one, but Ivanka thinks that Paul seems a little tired, a little lackluster.

When they re-enter, Aubrey says she’s going to play the Dayana card – she doesn’t deserve to have been brought back, as she didn’t do anything wrong. Trump wonders why Arsenio was not brought back in, as the executives weren’t thrilled with him, but loved Aubrey’s work. Aubrey says Teresa brings up all of her ideas, be they good or bad, and Teresa takes offense. Trump agrees that it was a rather back handed compliment.

Aubrey says that, between Paul and Teresa, she’d have to fire Paul. Teresa tried really hard, while Paul, as PM, wasn’t very passionate about the task. Maybe that’s why they lost, says Trump. Paul says that he was impressed with Aubrey during this task, as she was creative and a great team player. Trump then asks Paul if he signed off on all of his team’s work, and again says it was an error not to bring Arsenio, rather than Aubrey back. Paul was Project Manager, didn’t bring Arenio back, and his team lost. Paul, you’re fired.

Paul saunters out, seemingly unconcerned with losing. Aubrey shouts out, “We love you; you’re a class act, Paul Senior.” Trump and the Trumpettes say Paul will be missed.

Paul’s limo exit speech: “It’s kinda weird being fired because I’m usually on the other end of the shoe, there, I’m the guy that’s doing the firing. But you know, I’ve experienced being humbled in my life quite a bit, so, nothing wrong with that. I thought it was a great experience, working for Donald. I thought he was a pretty stand up, regular guy, so for me it was an honor, something different than I usually do, and, you know, all good things come to an end.”

Related: Arsenio Hall, Aubrey O'Day, Clay Aiken, Dayana Mendoza, Donald Trump, Eric Trump, Ivanka Trump, Lisa Lampanelli, Paul Teutul Sr., Penn Jillette, Teresa Giudice, The Celebrity Apprentice, Starpulse Exclusives, Recaps, Television, Celebrity, Reality, Charity & Good Deeds, TV Networks, NBC

© 2012

Photo Credits: Douglas Gorenstein/NBC

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