Just when you thought ‘The Apprentice‘ franchise couldn’t get any more emotional than what we saw Bret Michaels go through last season on ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ Donald Trump and the gang have made sure tears will flow on the new season of the flagship show, which premieres Sept. 16.
The theme of the new season – the first regular ‘Apprentice’ since 2007- is the economic downturn with 16 contestants who were either at the top of their game in the business world only to lose it all, or fresh graduates from the top universities in the country who can’t seem to find a job in this economic climate.
“We have had so many requests from so many people because of the times, because of obviously the country is not doing well the, economic times are not good,” explains executive producer/host Donald Trump. “If you remember when we started the ‘Apprentice’ it was this big hit but it was also in a different world. Times were booming and now times are just the opposite of booming. So many people wanted to see this show reflective of the current times and that’s what we’ve done.”
The 16 hopefuls include Brandy Kuentzel, Stanford law student who is now selling cupcakes; David Johnson, a husband with five kids, no job, and a wife with one foot out the door; Poppy Carlig, a former cancer researcher who now lives with her parents; Alex Delgado, an engineer who was downsized and now drives a tow truck; and more.
Meet this season’s contenders:
“It’s very sad to see what happened to some of these kids,” continues Trump. “We would like to say it’s inspirational at the same time it’s very sad.” Creator/executive producer Mark Burnett says, “The point of ‘The Apprentice’ this year is fighting back. Many, many people lost their jobs and we got the people who just want to absolutely fight back. Prove themselves.”
But before this sounds like the bum-out season of all seasons, it’s not. It’s about hope and second chances, and, of course, a few celebrities thrown in for good measure. Among the various guests and tasks are Kim Kardashian (whose perfume is used for one task), ‘Dog Whisperer’ Cesar Millan (who judges a doggy day care challenge), Kristin Chenoweth (who judges a Broadway show challenge), fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi, Liza Minnelli, and Kathy Griffin.
Other tasks include selling ice cream on the streets of New York, an eco-friendly green challenge, producing a fashion show, and running a pedi-cab.
Other than the new theme, the other big change will be in the area of rewards. Gone are the lavish dinners and in place of them are simply meetings with business executives, such as Steve Forbes, Russell Simmons, and Macy’s and PVH head honchos, which are two sponsors of the season, among others.
“It’s about fighting back and never giving up,” adds Trump. “I think it’s the best ‘Apprentice’ that we’ve done since season one.”
Obviously NBC thought so too as ‘The Apprentice’ was originally slated to air in spring 2011, but “when NBC saw it, it’s so good they bumped a show to put it on early,” said Trump.
Meanwhile, shooting will begin soon for the next ‘Celebrity Apprentice,’ which will air in spring.
The two-hour season premiere of ‘The Apprentice’ debuts on NBC Sept. 16 at 9 p.m.
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