‘Celebrity Apprentice’: How Has Lisa Lampanelli Lasted This Long?

ALTAny girl who has gone through high school has experienced Mean Girl Association Syndrome. You know what I’m talking about — it’s an (entirely made up) type of Stockholm Syndrome, in which those within close proximity of a Mean Girl appease, ignore, or encourage one’s societally inappropriate behavior. And Mean Girl Association Syndrome has never been more rampant than on this season of Celebrity Apprentice.

I’m not talking about Aubrey O’Day, who has proved to be a shrewd creative force with a biting tongue, no matter how many “stripper pole” jokes Clay Aiken can drop about her in one episode. I’m talking about comedian Lisa Lampanelli, who has done little more throughout the series than aggressively harass both teammates and competitors. Now, it’s no secret Lampanelli is known for this behavior — her harsh sense of humor has made her a must-see at Comedy Central roasts. But in the context of a series rooted in charity (by “charity,” I mean “feeding into Donald Trump’s ego”), Lampanelli’s words seem displaced and illogical.

Illogical mostly because it’s unfathomable how she’s lasted so long in the competition. True, most of her staying power could be attributed to Trump’s desire to trump drama-makers, rather than personality DOA contestants like Patricia Velásquez. In Trump’s world, mean and obscene is much better than pristine (… but not lean, which is why the gorgeous Dayana Mendoza is still a force in the competition). And it’s also true that Lampanelli has driven the creativity of her teams… even if that led to her teams losing six times. But what’s most surprising is her teammates’ tendencies to ignore or allow her constant barbs — in fact, with the exception of some lame call-outs during the board room, last night was the first time we saw someone (Lou Ferrigno) attack Lampanelli for her tongue. (And I don’t count Lampanelli’s short feud with Arsenio Hall, in which she actually showed some nobility, standing up for Hall’s borderline-sexist insults directed at O’Day.)

As a viewer, it’s almost uncomfortable watching the way Lampanelli lambasts Mendoza, consistently calling her variations of stupid and useless while the rest of the cast — including Mendoza herself — watch idly nearby before praising the comedian in the boardroom following a loss. (And that’s coming from a Celebrity Apprentice fan that craves drama more than Michael Andretti craves a personality.) Even Mendoza herself couldn’t bring herself to throw Lampanelli under the bus last night, even though the comedian could have easily been blamed for a creative-driven loss. Add to Mean Girl Association Syndrome the fact that Lampanelli has a 0-1 record as Project Manager, and it’s hard to imagine why she still chugs along, support of the cast in tow.

Of course, based on the promos for next week’s show, the self-professed bitch herself might be forced to face her actions, breaking down in tears in the boardroom. But lest we think that will lead to her firing, let’s not underestimate Trump’s dedication to drama. No matter how many “useless,” “loser,” or “stupid” insults Lampanelli tosses around, odds are the bitch will be back. Could she even win the whole shebang? It’s doubtful — sorry, Queen Bee, but karma is far bitchier than you could ever be.

Anyone else surprised Lampanelli has lasted this long?

Follow Kate on Twitter @HWKateWard