|The cast of "The Apprentice," Season 10.|
Somehow I missed the casting call for unemployed professionals for the new season of "The Apprentice," which premiers tonight on NBC. Darn!
Lawyers, an engineer, an accountant, Realtors, master's program graduates -- no laid-off journalists, though -- the country's near-fall into a second Great Depression will be told through its effect on their lives. "About a year and a half ago, I was laid off," says one cast member, breaking down in a promo clip for the show. "Oh my God," says another, "what am I going to do now?" Adds a third, "I'm a victim of the economy, basically."
Yes, but "nothing is more American than a second chance," intones the announcer on the clip, informing us "The Apprentice" has changed its stripes this season, leaving behind the celebrity contenders of the past couple of years to return to the original formula: go-getters eager to prove themselves for the chance to work with The Donald.
Indeed, Trump himself seems excited about the format shift, telling Entertainment Weekly "It's as good as Season 1," which he maintains was "the biggest show on television." But playing off people's bad economic luck?
"Today, the economy -- you have a 17 percent unemployment, real unemployment of 17 percent," Trump says in the interview. "We almost went through Great Depression No. 2, and in a lot of cases, you could say we did go through it. So the world is a different place, and we want to show the current world as opposed to a fantasy."
The stakes are high for the show's 16 contenders, he says. "We have one young man who has five children and a wife and no job." (That's about as close to real as these cast members may get.)
But Trump has a big heart: Even as he's leveling his famous "You're fired!" in the boardroom, he's helping this season's contenders get their careers back on track. "We’re setting these people up with great executives at great companies, beyond 'The Apprentice.' That, we’ve never done before," he tells EW. " ... we’re hooking them up with great job opportunities, like at Phillips-Van Heusen and Macy’s and some of our great sponsors on the show."
Isn't that just grand?
"America goes back to work on 'The Apprentice'," TV Guide said in a headline. If only that were true for the 14.9 million others who currently are unemployed.