Beating Martha Stewart’s version of “The Apprentice” to the punch, CBS clones the concept with this fashion-conscious incarnation headlined by Tommy Hilfiger, whose latest line is undoubtedly more colorful. Hilfiger comes across naturally on camera, promising that the winning contestant is “going to live my life in fast forward.” Alas, what they’re actually going to live out is Donald Trump’s TV show.
That’s right, 16 disparate folks will vie for a $250,000 salary and the chance to have Hilfiger market their line while spewing out self-conscious confessional dialogue like, “I’m out for blood this time.” Hey, it’s reality TV, who isn’t?
The contest begins with its one minor moment of inspiration, which involves designing Times Square billboards, augmented by an exaggerated score and varied lineup of players. They include a former Miss Minnesota and a designer who bursts into tears when Hilfiger praises his work.
Unfortunately, the expanded premiere gets off to an extremely slow start, taking a whopping 13 minutes to choose up teams of eight and simultaneously introduce the wannabes. That’s followed by opening credits accompanied by the Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want,” proving, somewhat depressingly, that if the money’s right you can buy just about any song you want.
Soon enough, the contestants are squabbling and racing to meet some deadline without establishing any distinctive personalities beyond the “skank,” as described by her teammates, who engages in her own kind of soapy pole dance. Clearly, some of these people have watched one reality show too many.
The fashion realm theoretically should offer enhanced female appeal, though it didn’t pan out that way for CBS’ “Wickedly Perfect,” which somewhat more vaguely sought the next lifestyle diva and fell flat in the same timeslot. Moreover, at least initially the criteria for success appear more arbitrary than usual.
Hilfiger brings a semi-recognizable name and Trump-sized ego to the proceedings, though having the company’s president of marketing (Peter Connolly) serve as an exec producer only heightens the sense that this is all just an infomercial. The bottom line is the show plays like “The Apprentice” lite, positioned a network over and hour earlier.
It’s surely all quite fabulous, darling, but amid this spring’s reality collections, “The Cut” doesn’t make it.