Is there a better job in television than casting for “Celebrity Apprentice?” Other than becoming Charlie Sheen’s new publicist, I don’t think so.
Now, to be clear, I think this version of “The Apprentice” — which premieres March 6, with another of those bloated two-hour episodes — is inane. The whole conceit worked initially (in theory, anyway) because it created a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for someone to work for a pompous windbag with comical hair. By contrast, a bunch of celebrities and wannabes playing for charity — and not incidentally, additional minutes of fame and/or notoriety — seems like a relatively pallid construct.
That said, from a casting standpoint the show is a world of bizarro possibilities, and the producers have outdone themselves with the latest batch of eccentrics. In addition, the format (unlike, say, “Dancing With the Stars”) forces this fun-house assembly of personalities to interact with each other, in ways that at least here feel genuinely unpredictable and a touch volatile, even with the understanding that they’re playing to the cameras.
Forget Richard Hatch, the “Survivor” alum, who is already acting like he’s playing that game all over again. (Seriously, Richard, you’ve had your 15 minutes, as well as a jail sentence. Get a life.)
Nope, the real wackiness comes from Gary Busey — who keeps saying things that make absolutely no sense — and Meat Loaf. Then there’s Jose Canseco, who takes an instant dislike to Hatch. The women aren’t nearly as interesting, even with Star Jones, La Toya Jackson and Lisa (“I coulda been an actress, but I wound up here”) Rinna vying for attention.
By all rights “Celebrity Apprentice” belongs on VH1 more than NBC, but it’s not like the Peacock network has a surplus of bullets in its chamber right now. So until better options emerge, reheat the Meat Loaf, and unleash the Busey!