There is a basic contract that exists between reality TV show watchers and reality TV show producers – we, the watchers, will accept the rules as you set them forth, ludicrous though they may be, provided that you (and the cast) do, too. Sure, a couple of tricks and surprises are fair, but if we're given the criteria by which people will be booted from the island, house, boardroom, or whatever it is, we expect it to be upheld.
Look at last night's Celebrity Apprentice and the ever-growing embarrassment that is Donald Trump. A few weeks ago Gene Simmons was fired because he brought two people back into the boardroom who did nothing wrong during that task. Trump explained to Gene that he was making a mistake, that Nely Galán ought to be brought back, and that Trump couldn't fire the people Gene wanted to bring in because he wouldn't base his decision on past transgressions. Okay, fair enough, Trump will only fire based upon the task at hand. Good to know.
Last night, Trump decided to fire poor Nely solely because he had the opportunity to do so; she had done nothing at all wrong in the current task (outside of not being able to convince the PM, Omarosa, that she was wrong, and we all know Omarosa takes advice from no one anyway). Trump made it clear that Nely had gotten lucky earlier in the season and that he was going to rectify that tonight. He fired Nely, despite Omarosa's concept being the sole reason the women lost.
Why, exactly, did he do this? What possessed him to fire her when he so clearly ought to have fired the person who was actually at fault?
Ratings. In The Donald's mind, Omarosa must mean ratings. If Omarosa is there more controversy will exist and the ratings will be higher. Though Trump, like Omarosa, listens to no counsel but his own, I have a few words advice for the Hairpieced One – by firing undeserving candidates you are undermining the very notion of the game you have everyone playing. The audience will not stand by you through this. We all know why you did what you did and it is wholly unacceptable. We've put up with a lot from you, from your condescension to every woman who has ever appeared on the show, to your getting rid of George Ross so that your kids could sit in the boardroom mutely, to your bluster about having the top-rated show on television despite what the actual ratings were. Your getting all vindictive on Nely last night and saving your pet project Omarosa may have been the last straw though. Right up until that point a number of us were actually looking forward to the rest of this season and the already ordered second edition of Celebrity Apprentice.
Mr. Trump, you are on thin ice. We all know that it's your decision to make, and that you can fire anyone for any reason you please, but we get to make a decision too, and those of use who still watch are about a half-second away from changing the channel.
Omarosa is not ratings gold, but you insist on clinging to her like a drowning man clings to an inflatable life raft. Sadly though, your life raft has a hole and is quickly deflating. You would do better to let go and allow her sink to the icy depths of the ocean alone, because if you keep hanging on she is going to take you down with her.
But after your performance last night, there will be a few more people to wish you “bon voyage” if you decide to keep holding on.