Bill Cosby References Make Celebrity Apprentice Premiere Uncomfortable

Keshia Knight Pulliam was eliminated in the premiere episode of Celebrity Apprentice's latest season. The reason: She didn't contact Bill Cosby.

Keisha Knight Pullman being grilled in the board room.

Keshia Knight Pulliam being grilled in the board room.

Editor’s Note: The following article contains spoilers for the first episode of Celebrity Apprentice

If I have one tip for watching a two-hour episode of Celebrity Apprentice, it’s to only tune in for the second hour. This is what I did last night for the premiere of the show’s new season, and it made the second half of the show incredibly entertaining. Why? Because the faux boardroom conversations — where the contestants are graded on whatever stunt they had to pull this week — became absolutely baffling. And much more entertaining!

For a while, I had no idea what was going on. The celebrities were set up into two teams, men vs. women. The first thing I saw was Piers Morgan telling the women’s team they’d received high marks from the Cake Boss for their baking. (Why wasn’t the Cake Boss weighing in himself? When did Piers Morgan get added to this show?) Then Donald Trump was critiquing the women for not raising enough money for charity. I thought this was a baking challenge! Did the Apprentice contestants have a bake sale? Did they sell bean pies in the middle of intersections like the Nation of Islam?

It turns out the teams essentially had competing charity bake sales. This is incredibly unfair to the women’s team. The men’s team includes Kevin Jonas, Johnny Damon, Terrell Owens, Gilbert Gottfried and Geraldo Rivera. The women’s team has two different housewives. The most famous person on the women’s team is Kate Gosselin. Kate Gosselin! The men’s team easily raised more cash than the women’s squad. And Kate Gosselin herself did not raise any money, saying a check did not arrive in time. (Since the money is for charity, you think they’d extend the deadline a bit in order to do some good?)

Eventually, the women’s team was narrowed to a bottom three: Gosselin, Jamie Anderson (a gold medal-winning snowboarder) and Keshia Knight Pulliam (aka Rudy from The Cosby Show). As Abraham Riesman writes over at Vulture, “what followed was an excruciating three minutes for anyone even vaguely aware of the Cosby rape scandal.” Trump asked Pulliam why she didn’t lean on Bill Cosby.

“I have not talked to Bill Cosby on the phone in I don’t know how long,” she said. “So for me to pick up the phone, having not talked to you for five years, except for when we run into each other for a Cosby event — I feel that’s not my place to do.”

As there was no way the producers would get rid of Gosselin in the premiere, Pulliam was fired. This is kind of strange: By not calling Bill Cosby, she actually saved the producers from an even more trouble. “How many meetings were there at NBC about whether to excise the Cosby bits from the episode?” I thought while watching. (Her teammates had goaded her earlier into calling up The Cos.) What if she called him and he made an appearance? NBC has already canceled its upcoming Cosby project!

It made for an odd ending, even if you’d watched the first hour. The upside: With Pulliam gone, it’s doubtful we’ll get any more Cosby references this season.