×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

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

  • Lauren Ash44th Annual Gracie Awards, Show,

    Politics and New Abortion Ban Laws Dominate 2019 Gracie Awards

    Female empowerment was in the air Tuesday night as showrunners, writers and performers gathered at the 44th annual Gracie Awards to celebrate women breaking barriers and shattering glass ceilings within the entertainment industry. Sandra Oh, Patricia Arquette, Rachel Maddow and Connie Britton were among the honorees at the ceremony, which took place at the Beverly [...]

  • Sacha Baron Cohen

    Why Sacha Baron Cohen Credits Donald Trump for ‘Who Is America?’

    Over the course of history, comedians have shared their take on current events with biting commentary on everything from class and gender to fashion and politics, and the current presidential administration is definitely no exception — with President Donald Trump regularly lampooned on shows like “Saturday Night Live” and by late-night TV hosts. But when [...]

  • James Marsden attends the 2019 MOCA

    New Abortion Ban Laws Take Center Stage at MOCA Gala

    Forty years ago in Los Angeles, the decision to invest millions in a museum dedicated exclusively to contemporary art — not to mention its formerly desolate downtown location, where the vibe was more apocalyptic than artsy — was a risky proposition. But now that the city’s cultural heart has shifted south of Hollywood, it seems [...]

  • Robert De Niro Calls for Impeachment,

    Robert De Niro Calls for Impeachment, Imprisonment for Trump, Says Maybe Al Pacino Should Lead Instead

    Robert De Niro honored Al Pacino, his longtime friend and four-time collaborator (with Martin Scorsese’s upcoming film “The Irishman” marking their latest pairing), at the American Icon Awards, and then called for a different type of tribute for President Donald Trump — “impeachment and imprisonment.” “You didn’t think you were going to completely get away without [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content