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Celebrity Apprentice Cast Narrowly Escapes Being Surreal Apprentice Cast, But How?

The cast of the upcoming season of Celebrity Apprentice was released today. From the AP:

Former NBA bad boy Dennis Rodman, country music’s Clint Black and TV personality Khloe Kardashian will get down to business on NBC’s upcoming “Celebrity Apprentice.”

The slate of 16 celebrity rivals also includes Joan and Melissa Rivers, former football great Herschel Walker, “Baywatch” star Brande Roderick and one-time scandalous comic Andrew Dice Clay.

Olympic figure skater Scott Hamilton, singer Brian McKnight and comedian Tom Green will also compete in business-oriented challenges around Manhattan, along with poker champ Annie Duke, pro golfer Natalie Gulbis, actress-model Claudia Jordan, singer Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins and former “Monster Garage” host Jesse James.

Fair enough. I mean, when it’s Gabe’s Apprentice things will be different, but it’s not Gabe’s Apprentice, so fair enough. Still, we need to talk about the rules, because clearly there is some metaphysical law of reality TV casting that I don’t understand.

At some point, it was discovered that washed up celebrities made perfect reality TV show fodder. Duh. That point was probably around 2002, when Celebrity Boxing premiered. Since then, of course, we’ve seen washed up celebrities run the gamut, from sad competition show to sad train wreck house show. For some reason, they all seem to think that having their own reality TV show is as good as it gets, as if there’s some kind of redemptive hope at kick-starting a real career hiding behind the brutal schadenfreude-fueled mockery of Being Bonaduce or Gene Simmons’ Family Jewels. Never going to happen, clowns. It would be nice to send all the washed up celebrities a letter that says “Dear Washed Up Celebrities, Go to bed.” And these shows actually make that seem kind of possible. Like there’s some holding cell where all these forgotten, fallen stars are hanging out, waiting for their reality show number to be called. One letter. 42 cents.

The point I’m trying to make is obvious because I haven’t had coffee yet and you’re going to have to wait until I’ve had coffee if you want non-obvious points to be made about garbage television (and even then what you get will probably be sophomoric and three years too late), but what separates the cast of Celebrity Apprentice from, say, Confessions of a Teen Idol? Or any other show in which mostly forgotten fames are brought together for six weeks of humiliation? Because there is something about this show that feels more restrained and dignified, despite the absolutely ridiculous cast. (Where are all the fart sound effects and the fire-pit confessions of sexual perversion?) So is it just that these stupid idiots were slightly less stupid than their peers and managed to hold out until a reality TV casting offer came from something that wasn’t just obviously in-your-face insulting? Or is there some unspoken rule somewhere that automatically puts Andrew Dice Clay higher in the American esteem than, say, Chyna? T-Boz is respectable while Da Brat is worthy of derision? Because that rule is stupid, all washed up celebrities who think reality TV is anything other than a sad joke are ridiculous and mistaken.

Forget it, Jake, it’s Celebrity Chinatown.