‘Celebrity Apprentice’ has a branding twist

I am a BIG fan of Celebrity Apprentice and usually can ignore the parts that I don’t like, but this episode had an interesting twist.  Whether or not you like ‘The Donald’, watch the show or not, you can still learn something from this episode.

The show has two teams – currently, a women’s and a men’s team.  Each team has the same challenge, the winning project manager gets $50,000 for his or her charity, and then a person is fired on the losing team.  Here is what happened:

The challenge

Choose a team leader and create a 10-minute presentation and a 10-minute Q-and-A for a live audience about the new Buick Verano. The Buick people stated that they didn’t want comedy to represent the brand.  The women’s team picked Debbie Gibson and the men’s team picked Adam Carolla.


Adam decided to present solo, have Michael Andretti, retired IndyCar race driver, provide an affirmative statement on stage, then have the rest of his teammates act as hecklers during his presentation and Q-and-A.


Debbie and team came up with a somewhat gimmicky presentation, involving the Verano playing Debbie’s “Shake Your Love” track, Teresa Giudice’s husband Joe and three of her daughters piling into the vehicle with all their luggage, and Aubrey O’Day lying about her mom being in a car accident (and mispronouncing the name of the car).

The firing

The Buick executives choose the women’s team as the winner, so Donald Trump asked Adam Carolla to select two people to bring into the board room with him.  Adam didn’t choose anyone as he took full responsibility as the team leader.  Donald didn’t like that, so he asked Adam, Michael Andretti, and Lou Ferrigno back into the boardroom and he announced that two people would be fired. Adam and Michael were fired.


Feedback from Team Trump and Team Buick

Throughout the episode, everyone kept talking about how astounded they were that the men didn’t pick Michael for project manager, and questioned Michael for not stepping up to be project manager.


Feedback from Michael

On Good Day NY {Fox Network}, here is what Michael Andretti said:  “Well, I guess because people see a car and think I should automatically do it. But I don’t know how to market a car or whatever. Where Adam Carolla has a car show on Speed, so he knows that sort of thing, so we felt he was the best choice for that.  I still don’t understand the logic 100%. I thought we were judged on how we did the task, but we were judged because we didn’t use people in the right positions… I didn’t understand the logic there,” he lamented.


The branding twist

Was it real or were they trying to get an unpaid product endorsement from Michael Andretti?


It didn’t sit right with a lot of people and logic would tell us that they were trying to get an unpaid endorsement instead of letting the game play out.  I know it is a “Reality” TV show, but unfortunately I think we will be seeing more of this, as brands try new and sometimes drastic measures to get attention.  But, customers are smart and usually can tell when things are contrived, which will create negative brand sentiment that cannot be easily gained back.

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