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Hercules Has Seen And Enjoyed
Tonight’s First Non-Celebrity
APPRENTICE Since April 2007!!

I am – Hercules!! NBC’s 10 p.m. Thursday slot -- occupied from 1981 to 2009 by “Hill Street Blues,” “L.A. Law” and “ER” -- is this fall the home of the first non-celebrity edition of “The Apprentice” in nearly three and a half years. The Mark Burnett competition series started on Thursdays back in 2004, inheriting the 9 p.m. slot vacated by “Seinfeld” six years earlier. It was booted off Thursdays in 2006 to make room for the Thursday edition of “Deal Or No Deal.” “The Office” took over the slot in fall 2007, where it grew into NBC’s top scripted series. “Celebrity Apprentice” has long roosted on Sunday in a slot filled in the fall by football. Notes on tonight’s harrowing premiere: * “Two years ago it began!” bellows Donald Trump. “An economic crisis that swept the world and almost brought our country into another Great Depression! You may think the worst is over! But still talented, smart people are unemployed! They’re looking for work! They have no prospects! I hate what I’m seeing and I’m going to do something about it!” * All 16 candidates seem to have this in common: they all need this job. There’s no millionaire who sold his business and is looking for a new challenge. There are no uberwealthy sports figures lobbying to get fired in week two so they can back to their cocaine and mansion and yacht. * One guy lost his wife after he lost his job. Another’s been living off his savings for three years. * Per tradition, all the males are initially consigned to one team, all the females to the other. * One fellow, Alex, is immediately labeled less intelligent because he thinks Icarus rose from ashes. * None of the men seem too excited about being chosen project manager. On the women’s team, there is a volunteer. * Their first task “is to build an ultra-modern workspace,” essentially decorating vacant lofts. (The series’ relentless product placement is given a breather for the first episode sent to critics.) * There are many personality clashes on both teams. * The boardroom sequence, easily the most entertaining component of the show, takes up a solid 32 of the first episode’s 87 minutes. * After the winning team is revealed, the losers get LOUD. * It’s still fun to see the contestants struggle out of those confining boardroom chairs after Trump dismisses them. * Interesting! The first loser does not tote a piece of luggage as he or she climbs into the Taxicab of Humiliation. The eight female contestants:
Poppy, 24 (Richmond, California), a recent Stanford graduate who has a Bachelor of Arts in Human Biology and Master's in Sociology, hasn't been able to secure a full time job in her chosen field. She was offered a job doing breast cancer research, but unfortunately due to the economic recession, the funding fell through. Poppy currently lives in Richmond, California with her parents and works as a part-time caretaker for her grandmother. As a competitive synchronized swimmer, making the Olympic training squad and winning four NCAA championship titles in college, Poppy is ready to use her competition skills.
Nicole, 27 (Palos Verdes, California), graduated cum laude from the University of California, Irvine. She received her J.D. from Loyola Law School while holding the title of Miss Los Angeles, and placing 4th runner-up at the Miss California USA 2008 Pageant (part of the Miss USA Pageant). Determined to use her brains and beauty, Nicole left her law firm job, where she was miserable as an attorney, to prove that the recession can't stop her from pursuing her dreams.
Mahsa, 29 (Brooklyn, New York), works as an Assistant District Attorney in Brooklyn, New York, and is the host of two web shows on the side. Dealing with the financial pressures of being the sole breadwinner in her family, Mahsa has gained personal strength in this economic downturn. Before receiving her J.D. at Brooklyn Law School, Mahsa studied biology at the University of Virginia, and film at the New York Film Academy. She passionately fights to promote justice, and is obsessed with beauty, hair and style secrets.
Brandy, 30 (San Francisco, California), received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from UCLA, and her Juris Doctorate from the University of Chicago Law School. After working as a corporate attorney for a prestigious international law firm, she co-founded a mobile cupcake business in the San Francisco Bay Area. This entrepreneur is now ready to launch a more challenging and rewarding career. Brandy is a vegetarian and an avid supporter of animal rights. She also loves the outdoors and runs several miles a day.
Kelly, 30 (Fayetteville, Georgia), born in North Carolina and raised in Georgia, received her Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Spelman College and her Master's in Public Communication from American University. Kelly worked in the press office for the Governor of Georgia and was previously employed in the Atlanta office of a global public relations firm, where she was laid off. She was recently named one of the city's "Power 30 Under 30." Her expectation of purchasing her dream condo and car on her 30th birthday was abandoned when she lost her job, and now she lives with her parents. Kelly is an avid supporter of Living Water for Girls, a rehab center that rescues and restores abused girls. She is an active member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., a public service organization, and is a founding member of the Next Wave Society, the young professionals auxiliary of the world famous Georgia Aquarium.
Liza, 30 (Corpus Christi, Texas), was born in Kenya. As part of the Kenyan National Golf Team, she was recruited to play golf at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. She completed her education and received her master's degree while simultaneously starting an educational technology company. However, her business venture fell victim to the recession and she is struggling to make it a success.
Stephanie, 34 (Chicago, Illinois), born and raised in Montreal, has been a fighter since a very young age. Having both her parents pass away from AIDS when she was only a teenager, Stephanie started her career by putting herself through college at McGill University while working full-time. Since then, she has worked as a commercial banker, at which she found success at a young age and was ranked among the top commercial lenders in the country several years running. After being directly impacted by the effects of the recession in the financial sector, she is looking to take control of her life and be proactive in her career. Additionally, Stephanie founded Child Cause/Fear to Fire, a nonprofit organization that provides a peer network to teens affected by AIDS and substance abuse by inspiring through the arts, and has authored a book titled "Fear to Fire." Stephanie is very athletic, a national speaker, and continues to write.
Tyana, 41 (Miami, Florida), was a successful real estate agent prior to the recession. She never imagined being unemployed for so long, yet has managed to adjust to a simpler way of life since losing her six-figure income. Tyana currently resides in Los Angeles, California, and is proud to hold the title of Miss Cougar California, where she feels she can use her brains and her beauty to redefine the perception of a "cougar." During her time off last year, she took advantage of fulfilling some of her "bucket list" travel locations on the smallest of budgets.
9 p.m. Thursday. NBC.
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