It’s always a good time when Busey’s in the house. Seriously, Gary Busey (of “Lethal Weapon” fame) dons a tiny red suit, calls himself the “Pepperoni Profit” and throws pepperonis at passersby in Greenwich Village shouting rants to anyone who’ll listen. No, Gary Busey has not become a loony Manhattan preacher. He’s just selling pizza. Why, you may ask? For “The Celebrity Apprentice” of course!

The Celebrity Apprentice

Season Four Premiere
Sundays at 9 p.m.

Season four of Donald Trump’s celebrity reality series returns, once again with a list of notable personalities competing against each other for the chance to raise money for a charity of their choice. The names are some of the biggest in the entertainment industry: Star Jones, Lil’ Jon, Mark McGrath and La Toya Jackson, to name a few.

Following the traditional format of “The Apprentice,” Trump divides the contestants into two teams, men vs. women. They’re then given a task: Each team is to organize and run a pizzeria in a different section of New York City. The team raising the most money wins, and the project manager is given a sizable dollar amount for his or her favorite charity.

The women dub their team A.S.A.P. (Actors, Singers, Authors and Professionals for a Purpose). The men call themselves Backbone (the reason for this choice isn’t quite clear, except Busey gets excited about it, which is probably reason enough). The women choose Star Jones as their first project manager, while the men pick Richard Hatch, a reality TV star and winner of the first season of “Survivor.”

Competition gets fierce. Tensions run high. John Rich and Lil’ Jon wrangle customers by singing in the street. Lisa Rinna bickers with Star Jones, and things heat up between former baseball star Jose Canseco, former Partridge David Cassidy and Hatch.

In short, the elements of a fine season are all in place for the first episode. You’ve got legends of rock, film and television. You’ve got irrational drama. You’ve got Trump reveling in his role as grand master of ceremonies, instigating rivalries and firing contestants along the way.

At the end of the day, regardless of any reality TV nonsense, a charity benefits from the fruits of celebrity labor. With this thought comfortably in the back of their minds, viewers are free to appreciate the dueling sides going at it as they hurl finely crafted soundbites at one another.

Yet, it’s the little things that make season four of “The Celebrity Apprentice” so special — a well-balanced cast with sweethearts, like supermodel Niki Taylor, whom we can’t help but root for, and troublemakers, like Hatch, who immediately elicit negative reactions from everyone around them.

Lastly, we’ve got the characters who truly flesh out the cast, the ones who are evidently there for the sole reason of attracting viewers. These folks keep their noses clean from the drama (at least they have so far), leave the bickering to others and occupy their time with being awesome. As Lil’ Jon himself notes: “Lil’ Jon can’t be associated with nuthin’ lame.” This is fortunate because he seems to be on the show just to have a good time.

This show is more than the anxiety-inducing seconds before someone is fired or the conflict inherent in placing 16 very large egos in a room together — it’s watching familiar famous people in straight-up ridiculous situations that makes it all worthwhile.

In the words of Gary Busey, “In the end, Busey always wins.” Again, no idea what this means, but brilliant idea to cast Busey. Absolutely brilliant.

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