ByMatt Juul, writer at
MMA and Entertainment Writer
Matt Juul

If you thought 2016 was an extremely strange year, 2017 is kicking things off in its own odd way with the debut of The New Celebrity Apprentice on NBC. Now hosted by —who's stepping in for President-elect Donald Trump—the revamped features a new Los Angeles backdrop as well as an insane collection of notable competitors, including actors, musicians, athletes, and even fighter and veteran Chael Sonnen.

No stranger to the world of reality television thanks to his stints as a coach on The Ultimate Fighter, the "Gangster from West Linn" and his brash personality seemed right at home early on in the high pressure competition. Sonnen is taking part in the show to raise money for the Hire Heroes America charity.

Although the first episode doesn't have as much Sonnen as MMA fans probably would have liked, the combat sports star does play a role in helping his team as they tackled the first two challenges of the season.

Schwarzenegger chose the initial teams by dividing the cast via their genders. The men's team took on the name Arete while the women chose Prima as their designation. The first challenge involved coming up with a dynamic presentation for fashion icon and Schwarzenegger's advisor, Tyra Banks, and her brand of beauty products.

Obviously, the women's team had an advantage going into the first match-up, but the men proved to be fast learners in the makeup department.

Sonnen flaunted his skills as a matchmaker by immediately identifying his teammate and pop idol, Boy George, as the perfect person to lead team Arete for the challenge.

"Girls are experts in makeup," Sonnen said during the premiere. "But we have Boy George."

Making the Culture Club singer the project manager ended up being a great idea as he expertly executed the presentation with the help of his team in front of Banks, Schwarzenegger, the former California governor's nephew/advisor, and a huge crowd. The men hilariously decided to use their burly athletes as the test subjects to apply the beauty items on the models, which turned out to be an ingenious marketing strategy to show the products' ease of use.

If Sonnen can apply the makeup without any issues, anyone can.

Banks was actually pretty impressed with the men, complimenting them on their knowledge of the brand and for their savvy presentation. Team Arete was awarded the victory for the first challenge, forcing team Prima to lose their first candidate.

Carrie Keagan was the first star to hear Schwarzenegger's new catchphrase while being fired in the boardroom, as he told her, "You're terminated. Now get to the chopper."

The second challenge wasn't much better for the ladies, who once again fell to the men. This time the teams were tasked with creating music videos featuring Trident gum.

While Sonnen's team went with highlighting everyday smiles, team Prima thought they could score a knockout by having a -themed ad featuring contestants Laila Ali and Jersey Shore's Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi in the ring together.

Once again, Sonnen showed off his eye for talent as he saw actor and comedian Jon Lovitz as the natural fit to direct the men's clip. Despite some initial bumps in the process, the former star was somehow able to put together a solid video, while Mötley Crüe singer Vince Neil and Boy George bickered over the music. Sonnen actually served as the videographer for most of the production and had a minor singing cameo in the music video itself.

Team Arete was able to take home two consecutive victories, while Schwarzenegger was forced to terminate the women's second project manager, Wilson Phillips singer and television personality Carnie Wilson.

Even though Sonnen's crew won back-to-back challenges, he kept a stoic face as his teammates celebrated in the boardroom.

Overall, Sonnen showed he was a team player on the Celebrity Apprentice, as he was willing to do everything from filming to applying makeup. The MMA star also proved to be an expert at finding the right person for the job and was able to identify the proper teammate to take the project manager role for both challenges.

While there's still a long way to go, and it will be interesting to see him in more of a leadership role as a project manager, it was a good start for Sonnen.

Grade: B+

Do you think Chael Sonnen will win The New Celebrity Apprentice? Let us know in the comments below.


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