Thursday, March 16, 2006

The truth about Lenny

Although NBC does not reveal the candidates' last names, many websites (such as this one* and that one) are listing the candidate from the former Soviet Union as Lenny Val. We did it too.

Orthodox Apprentice has learned that this East Brunswick, NJ resident is actually Lenny Veltman.

Apparently, the Home News Tribune got his name wrong and their article** was used as the source for other websites. If you read the article carefully, you'll realize that the writer didn't talk to Lenny (he's not allowed to give interviews), nor did she talk to anyone who knows him. Fortunately, Lenny himself cleared this up for us.

As far as his religious background goes, we know that Lenny has some involvement with Jewish Family Service of Southern Middlesex County. Also, if you watch his audition video, you might notice a chanukah menorah on the shelf in his basement. And we all know how he feels about Rosh HaShana!

By the way, if you're in the market to buy a large quantity of high performance cement, you might want to get in touch with Lenny. Now we know something about the trading company that he owns.

[*3/18 Update: Since we've posted this information, Reality TV World has corrected Lenny's name on its contestant page.]

[**3/20 Update: The Home News Tribune reporter explains that she used The Apprentice Rules as her source for Lenny's name.]

Apprentice Episode 4 preview

Dan and Lee will be back to work, with Charmaine as Gold Rush's project manager. The task is to design billboards for Post Grape Nuts Trail Mix Crunch Cereal. (Yes, it's kosher.) Post executives judge the teams based on originality, brand image and overall campaigns.

The winning team's reward is to cook alongside world-renowned chef Jean-Georges at his signature restaurant in the Trump International. Although his restaurant is not kosher, Jean-Georges recently contributed a brisket recipe to the National Jewish Outreach Program's new publication, A Gourmet Shabbat.

One candidate will be fired.

Text messages from Apprentice candidates

We all know how much Mr. Trump loves text messaging, even though he admittedly can't do it himself. You can now sign up with NBC to receive text messages during the show from Apprentice candidates.

Subscribers will receive up to five text messages from different candidates, synchronized with the broadcast itself (multiple time zones are available). As you're watching the show, candidates will send out messages detailing their thoughts, strategies and decisions as the episode develops.

You can register now by sending the word "APP" to "62288" (NBCTV) from your cellphone. You will receive a confirmation text message asking you which time zone you are in. Simply reply with either "ET," "CT," "MT," or "PT" so your messages will be synced to the proper broadcast.

There's no charge from NBC, but your standard text message rate will apply.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Religious Observance: That's Life!

More opinions on this week's episode of The Apprentice:

In Lessons From The Apprentice (5.3), Stoney deGeyter writes:
On one hand you want to respect the religious beliefs of others, but at the same time, they are not contributing to a task and if there is a loss I might try to make an argument that they were instrumental to that loss by not being there. I might have been tempted to take them into the boardroom with one other person. I would try to balance the argument that I respect their decision to observe their religious holiday but at the same time they did not contribute to this particular task.

I probably would have gotten fired just for doing that as Trump was obviously not concerned about this decision by Dan and Lee whatsoever. Lenny later tried to make the case that he too is Jewish but chose to work, but again, Trump was unfazed. Trump noted that George was also not working due to the Jewish New Year as well. But George already has the job!

.....Religious beliefs in the workplace are not to be messed with. It may not seem fair, but get over it and respect it. Making a fuss can only get you in hot water, or worse make you look like an intolerant fool.

Mara, in confessions of a reality tv addict, blogs:
The problem I have is the timing of the task. Why was a task scheduled on Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish holiday that Lee and Dan were off celebrating)? Rosh Hashanah is one of the most sacred holidays of the year. Observant Jews do not work – they spend the day in synagogue. It would be like planning a task for Good Friday and Easter Sunday. Why place Lee and Dan in that awkward situation instead of postponing the task two days? It makes no sense to me. Trump was clearly aware of the situation (George was off for the holiday as well), yet didn’t change the scheduling. And for Lenny to question why they would put their faith above a television show is absurd. He should have been fired just for that.
On Acharit HaYamim, Dash Riprock says:
Modern Orthodoxy has been noticed and respected on television! By the goy min hagoyim, no less!

There. Wasn't that fulfilling? Because this episode was really what everybody was chalishing for - Our Boys doing the stuff that makes us different than everybody else, without starting a pogrom. But kind of like the obviously gay guy who ultimately comes out to his friends, I think it's ultimately going to be something of an anticlimax when we realize that, to everybody else, it's just not that big a deal. So whether this is the ultimate realization of the Torah U'Maddah ideal for the Jewish People or not, I can't imagine that religion will play anything more than a very minor role in future episodes. They are religious and so they took off for the religious holiday. When they have a nice dinner, maybe they'll get the fruit plate. As Trump said "that's life".
If you have more time to waste, the Television Without Pity forum has a very lengthy thread, full of varying opinions on Episode 3 and the issue of religious observance.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Orthodox Apprentice: Episode 3

As we reported last week, this was the first episode to publicly show Dan and Lee's Orthodox Judaism. They held their ground and made us proud (as did Mr. Trump himself.)

First, the recap:
  • The episode starts with Brent returning to the suite with greetings of "Happy New Year! Shana Tova!" Interesting that the show's first reference to the Jewish holiday is from someone who does not (overtly) observe the Jewish New Year. It's also Brent's only reference to the holiday (shown in this episode). An earlier post has some information on Brent's background in Judaism.
  • Lee and Dan call a team meeting to inform their Gold Rush teammates that they will be observing the Jewish holiday over the next two days and will not be available to contribute to a task.
  • Lenny raises objections. To Bryce's surprise, Lenny announces that he is Jewish (as reported here last week), but will not use his religion as an excuse to not contribute to the team. If the team loses, Lenny says, Dan and Lee will take the blame.
  • Dan tells Lenny that he will observe the holiday as he chooses to, without room for negotiation. This is just the way it's going to be.
  • In a private interview, Lenny comments that the Israeli army does not shut down on holidays. (As if The Apprentice was as important as saving lives.)
  • We watch Dan and Lee walk together to shul (synagogue). With matching yellow ties. (You heard it here first.)
  • The teams meet with Mr. Trump to learn about the next task. Trump first points out that Gold Rush is down two people since Dan and Lee are observing the holiday. Lenny is not happy when Mr. Trump explains that George is also observing the holiday and that he respects their decisions. "That's life," he remarks.
  • Lee and Dan are absent for the entire task - running a retreat event to introduce the 2007 Chevy Tahoe to Chevrolet dealers.
  • Gold Rush loses. Someone will be fired.
  • Theresa, the project manager, first places the blame on Lenny. Then she shifts the blame to Tarek. Lenny blames Dan and Lee for their absence. Then he blames Tarek and Bryce. Anyone but himself. Tarek puts the blame on Andrea.
  • Lenny asks if Mr. Trump knows that he is Jewish too. Mr. Trump is aware of that. Lenny says that he could have skipped the task, but he chose not to let the team down. Since Trump expresses his respect for Dan's and Lee's decisions, Lenny says that he'll take off the next holiday. Interestingly, no one but Lenny blames Dan or Lee. Some other dialogue could have been edited out, but we'll never know.
  • In the boardroom, Trump first asks the Orthodox candidates how their holiday went. Dan and Lee both respond that it was very nice.
  • Trump thinks that Lenny is very funny and is not at fault for losing the task. Mr. Trump places the blame on Charmaine, but since she wasn't brought back to the boardroom, Theresa is fired.
Some thoughts:
  • Kudos to Dan and Lee for having the foresight to prepare the team by openly discussing the issue in a meeting, rather than surprising their teammates when the two leave for shul.
  • Kudos to Dan and Lee for firmly stating what they will be doing and not leaving the issue open to negotiation.
  • Shame on Lenny for comparing The Apprentice competition to defending a country at war. (Lenny fought in the Soviet army against Afghanistan so he understands the signifcance of war.)
  • Brent announced Shana Tova, but did he observe the holiday at all? We don't know.
  • Donald Trump showed a tremendous amount of respect for the Jewish holiday. At that one moment, any Orthodox Jew would have wanted to have him for a boss.
  • This episode was truly the kiddush hashem that we were hoping for. Some people will surely agree with Lenny and say that Dan and Lee should not have sacrificed the team for their religion, but the popular reaction from the general public should be that they did the right thing and went about it in a very respectful manner.
  • The show handled the issue very well. Both sides were shown - Lee and Dan on one side with Lenny on the other. The rest of the team was in the middle, but appeared to be very understanding. The Orthodox Apprentice candidates were not portrayed negatively in any way. It helped that George was off for the holiday too.
10 days until Yom Kippur. That could be about 3 weeks in Apprentice time. Stay tuned!