×

The Apprentice: Martha Stewart

After putting a "Law & Order" on every other corner, NBC was perhaps understandably emboldened to try franchising "The Apprentice." Yet the new edition fronted by an amiable, wisdom-dispensing Martha Stewart brings too little that's fresh to a format already exhibiting signs of wear and tear.

With:
With: Martha Stewart, Charles Koppelman, Alexis Stewart.

After putting a “Law & Order” on every other corner, NBC was perhaps understandably emboldened to try franchising “The Apprentice.” Yet the new edition fronted by an amiable, wisdom-dispensing Martha Stewart brings too little that’s fresh to a format already exhibiting signs of wear and tear. The series won’t face a “Lost” recap show every week, but its tepid start Wednesday suggests that the net has tried one mentor too many, with the question now being whether Stewart’s presence further dilutes the value of Trump’s Thursday real estate.

The producers did themselves no favors by essentially devoting the premiere’s first eight minutes to an infomercial for the host and Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia, as if they all had stock in the company or something. Then again, as Stewart mildly scolded David Letterman on Monday, best not to go there.

Stewart is dynamite when it comes to teaching the good life on her daytime show, if you’re into that sort of thing, but the changes made in tailoring the original “Apprentice” to her are cosmetic at best. Telling contestants they’ll be “asked to leave” instead of “fired,” writing farewell notes upon informing them “You just don’t fit in,” it all feels more like a cotillion than an extended job interview.

As for the competition portion, the strings show there as well. Producer Mark Burnett’s handsome trappings remain in evidence, but the offscreen magicians seem to be working a little too frantically to create drama. The editing, for example, left little doubt regarding who was going to be booted, contestants mugged more self-consciously for the cameras, and the music swelled to bombastic crescendos at the drop of a hat.

Flanked by MSLO chairman Charles Koppelman, who wore a frozen smile, and her daughter Alexis, Stewart is the one calming influence here. That said, she’s been almost ubiquitous in recent weeks, and it was a tad nauseating when she said that becoming a billionaire “felt really good” or promised her pledges, “Money can’t buy what you’re going to learn here.” Can’t buy this exposure, more like it.

Burnett is rightly regarded as the Rolls-Royce of reality, but beyond the enduring popularity of “Survivor,” some creases are showing in that molded chassis. Perhaps Burnett is being spread too thin as networks clamor for his services; this second “Apprentice” lacks the special flair that Stewart would demand before inviting guests in — especially after a summer replete with “Apprentice” knockoffs.

Stewart’s daytime show will likely enjoy a good long run. As for this enterprise, either Burnett hasn’t dipped far enough into his bag of tricks or he needs Stewart to crochet him a larger bag to accommodate a few new ones.

The Apprentice: Martha Stewart

Series; NBC, Wed. Sept. 21, 8 p.m.

Production: Produced by Mark Burnett Prods. Executive producers, Burnett, Jay Bienstock, Donald Trump; co-executive producers, Conrad Riggs, Kevin Harris; supervising producers, Jennifer Bresnan, Peter Wilson; producers, Matt Bartley, Luciana Brafman Bienstock, Jeff Cole, Rob LaPlante, William Pruitt.

Crew: Camera, Alan Pierce; supervising editors, Chris Simpson, Eric Van Wagenen; music, Adam Hawkins, Jeff Lippencott, Rick Livingstone, David Vanacore, Mark T. Williams; casting, Scott Salyers. 60 MIN.

Cast: With: Martha Stewart, Charles Koppelman, Alexis Stewart.

More Scene

  • The Old Beverly Hills Post Office'Wallis

    The Wallis Cancels April and May Programming in Response to Coronavirus Pandemic

    The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts has cancelled its upcoming programming for the months of April and May in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The performing arts center located in Beverly Hills had already wiped its calendar and closed its premises from public access for the remainder of March, but the center made [...]

  • Watch Rosie O'Donnell and Elton John

    Watch Rosie O'Donnell, Elton John Accept Their GLAAD Media Awards

    The GLAAD Media Awards were supposed to happen Thursday night in New York City, but the LGBTQ media watchdog group canceled the 31st annual festivities in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. However, GLAAD doesn’t want the day to go unnoticed, so the organization has released exclusive video to Variety of Elton John accepting the [...]

  • Tyra Banks Postpones ModelLand Theme Park

    Tyra Banks Postpones ModelLand Theme Park Opening

    Tyra Banks has put smizing on hold. The “America’s Next Top Model” host is postponing the opening of ModelLand, a theme park opening in Santa Monica, Calif. A new launch date has not been announced. “In light of the recommendations of the CDC, WHO, and California Governor Gavin Newsom, we have decided to postpone the [...]

  • AIDS/LifeCycle Canceled Due to Coronavirus Concerns

    AIDS/LifeCycle Canceled Due to Coronavirus Concerns

    This year’s AIDS/LifeCycle has been canceled. The annual bike ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles is considered the largest single HIV/AIDS fundraising event in the world and benefits the Los Angeles LGBT Center and the San Francisco AIDS Foundation (SFAF). Last year’s ride raised more than $16 million. Past participants have included Rep. Adam [...]

  • Variety's Power of Women gift bag

    Variety's Power of Women Event Postponed

    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Variety, the iconic entertainment business news media company, will postpone its high-profile Variety Power of Women: New York from April 3 to July 9. The accompanying magazine that includes the New York Women’s Impact Report will publish on July 7. Variety’s Power of Women events in Los Angeles and [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content