‘The Celebrity Apprentice’: David Cassidy Undone By Pizza Fiasco

Real estate mogul and television star Donald Trump opened up the fourth season of “The Celebrity Apprentice” (and the 11th season of the show overall) with a knowing declaration: “The circus is back in town, and you’re looking at the ringmaster.” At this point, Trump is well aware that the celebrity version of his long-running TV series isn’t so much about raising money for charity (though that’s ostensibly the purpose) as much as it is about putting famous crazy people together in a room together and seeing what happens. By sheer luck, “The Celebrity Apprentice” happened to premiere on Sunday night (March 6) during a time when the public’s hunger for unhinged celebrities seems to be at its peak (what with Charlie Sheen and all), and considering how wildly entertaining the premiere’s two hours were, this promises to be the best season yet.

As is typical of the show, “The Celebrity Apprentice” cast was immediately split up along gender lines into two teams. While the women do have some delightfully over-the-top personalities in the form of La Toya Jackson, “Real Housewives of Atlanta” cast member NeNe Leakes and former “The View” co-host Star Jones, the male team is filled to the brim with lunacy. There’s manic actor Gary Busey, blustery rocker Meat Loaf, shout-happy rapper Lil Jon, disgraced baseball truth-teller Jose Canseco and former “Survivor” champion Richard Hatch. When you consider that Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGrath is about the most normal guy on the team, you know you’ve got a group of champions in your midst.

In fact, it’s telling that the opening episode dispatched of the least crazy member of the male team (who have dubbed themselves “Backbone”) in the form of former teen idol David Cassidy. The two teams were given the task of taking over a pizza restaurant, with the team with the most sales scoring the victory. Backbone leader Hatch decided that Busey would make the best salesman, a choice that was horrible for business (because really, would you buy anything from a guy shouting at you about “passing gas,” even if he was famous?) but delightful for television.

The women (who are calling themselves “ASAP”) won the competition easily, and the boardroom came down to Hatch, Canseco and Cassidy. And though Hatch sort of assaulted Cassidy during the course of the pizza selling (which lead to a great exchange that ended with Cassidy declaring, “I am not a little person!”), Trump was frustrated by Cassidy’s inability to stand up for himself. So he got the boot while Hatch scowled and Canseco (who had been acting as Cassidy’s de facto bodyguard) smirked while wearing one of the most hideous jackets in the history of clothing. Next week features Meat Loaf as project manager and Marlee Matlin signing very angrily, which means that “The Celebrity Apprentice” should keep delivering just as long as everybody remains a little touched.

What did you think of the season premiere of “The Celebrity Apprentice”? Who would you have fired? Let us know in the comments!