Posted: Monday February 27, 2012, 1:10 PM
'Celebrity Apprentice' recap: Teresa Giudice plays Medieval ‘Housewife’ in Lyndhurst

ABC had the Oscars last night, but NBC had an award-worthy performance by Teresa Giudice, who played one of the “Unreal Housewives of Camelot” at Medieval Times in Lyndhurst, as part of her team’s challenge on “The Celebrity Apprentice.” Giudice even recreated one of her infamous run-ins with Danielle Staub — except this time, it wasn’t just dueling claws. She and Tia Carrere did some sword-fighting, and parodied the classic exchange in which Staub told Giudice not to call her “honey,” and Giudice snapped, “Is bitch better?” This time the line became, “Is wench better?”

And the whole sketch came to a dramatic conclusion with Giudice flipping a table. Only this time, that angry move was scripted.

Despite that noble effort, the men’s team won again. And Victoria Gotti wound up getting fired.

The nightly challenge was for each team to create a show that would be performed before an audience of men, women and children at Medieval Times.

Lisa Lampanelli volunteered to be the women’s project manager, and she quickly became a tyrant, yelling at people to stop cutting her off, cutting other people off mid-sentence and talking in a condescending manner to everyone but Aurey O’Day, who became her sidekick. Lampanelli came up with the “Unreal Housewives of Camelot” idea, and handed out play-acting roles to everyone but Gotti. The Don’s daughter complained that she didn’t want to be put in a closet, and even threatened to see if the men’s team had anything for her to do. Lampanelli said she had a very special role for Gotti, as the stage manager. She’d have to cue the lights and special effects and the such. It was such an  important role, Lampanelli said, that she herself thought of doing it. Alas, though, she could not, because she had an important part to play — as a Medieval Donald Trump. And Lampanelli, of course, is far too talented to be put in a closet, er, lighting booth.

Frankly, I don’t like Lampanelli’s comedy routine, but until last night, I always thought that the meannness was just an act. But in “Celebrity Apprentice,” Lampanelli was frightening, at times even cruel. One of her big gripes with Gotti was that when Gotti was researching Medieval Times, she typed Mid-evil to search, even though there was a Medieval Times napkin showing the correct spelling right in front of her. OK, so Gotti’s not a great speller. But Lampanelli’s far from faultless. And this is a woman who in the opening episode said she wasn’t going to mess with Gotti. “No horse’s head in the bed for me.” So much for promises.

Meanwhile, men’s team project manager Penn Gillette was diplomatic and even-tempered and all-around nice. He devised a scheme in which everyone exhibited (or tried to exhibit) their strengths. Clay Aiken sang, for example. George Takei dramatically announced the action. Gillette did some fire-juggling. Lou Ferrigno had a sword-fight with Paul Teutul Sr., who imported a specially-equipped motorcycle for the event. It was supposed to look like it was “wearing” armor. This viewer didn’t quite see it, but it was apparently a big hit with the kids in the audience.

This Teutul guy has something for every occasion. How on earth will the women stand a chance of winning as long as he’s on the men’s team. The first week, he gets a $305,000 donation from an anonymous source. Then, last night, he brings his super-chopper. What next?

James Lipton, who identified himself as a French knight, was on hand to watch the shows, but in the boardroom, he went on and on praising the men’s effort, while saying virtually nothing about the women’s show. Maybe he had never watched “The Real Housewives of New Jersey?” It didn’t really matter, though, because more members of the audience at Medieval Times voted for the men than for the women. There were a lot of kids in the crowd, and apparently, for boys of a certain age women in revealing outfits can’t trump chainmail-bedecked motorcycles.

Besides Lampanelli’s appalling behavior, a few other things surprised. Lou Ferrigno had an absolute meltdown when Gillette chose him as one of the two people he’d take the boardroom with him if the team lost. Takei, chosen for potential boardroom firing for the second week in a row, understood that Gillette had to name two people, even though he prefaced it by saying that everyone was wonderful. His thinking was that others on the team had more entrepreneurial experience,and how many more challenges would involve acting? But Ferrigno would have none of it.

Also surprising is how quiet Giudice continues to be. Finally, she seems to be in a group of women who really intimidate her. And so, she keeps her head down, her mouth shut — and just cooperates. We’re seeing a whole new side to Teresa the Terror.