“The Apprentice” peaked sometime during the premiere episode in 2004, and it’s been in rapid decline ever since.

That very first episode of Donald Trump’s reality show -- a competition to allegedly win a job at his company -- boiled down the business world to the most intriguing basics: Setting up a lemonade stand. It was pretty entertaining to watch big-egoed MBAs, lawyers and aspiring real-estate moguls scramble around Manhattan trying to discover the simplest secret of capitalism.

Actually, what was funny was that these would-be business barons couldn’t figure out how to make and sell lemonade. Brilliant!

But that was it. The show quickly devolved into a typical clash of petty personalities. The Donald eventually replaced amusingly gruff sidekicks George and Carolyn with his gravy-training kids. Worst of all, the challenges became limp excuses for product placements and paid plugs. Think of a new sales campaign for Pepsi! Think of a new sales campaign for Burger King! Think of a new sales campaign for Crest!

I know -- how about Think of a new reality show for NBC?

But The Donald is back. The new attempt to revitalize his show is “Celebrity Apprentice” -- same format, but this time the competitors are so-called stars. The only problem is, with this possible exception of Gene Simmons, the competitors aren’t stars. Not even close.

(Simmons, by the way, was the only person who appeared to be having fun during last night’s premiere episode. I think he’s the only one who’s in on the whole “celebrity” joke.)

Nevermind the competition -- the show’s as boring as ever. Instead, I present my breakdown of the almost-famous competitors:


Claim to Fame


Trace Adkins

Country music singer

Never heard of him

Carol Alt


Never heard of her

Stephen Baldwin

Baldwin Brother

C-List by birth

Nadia Comaneci

Olympic gymnast

Former fringe sports stars are D-List at best

Tiffany Fallon

Playboy Playmate

She’s not even on Hef’s lame reality show

Jennie Finch

Olympic softball player

Cute, but D-List

Nely Galán

Former Telemundo executive

C’mon -- you’re kidding, right?

Marilu Henner



Lennox Lewis

Heavyweight boxer

At least I’ve heard of him

Piers Morgan

"America's Got Talent" judge

You cannot become a celebrity solely by appearing on another reality show


"The Apprentice" contestant

You especially can’t become a celebrity by re-appearing on the same reality show

Tito Ortiz

Ultimate Fighting Champion

I don’t know him, but I guess UFC is popular

Vincent Pastore


Interesting, but even great character actors are B-List at best

Gene Simmons

Kiss tongue-wagger

Yes! Top rockers are always A-List