Sixteen candidates, all affected by the economic crisis, arrive in New York City for a 13-week job interview with Donald Trump. Trump divides them into teams and tasks them with creating a modern workspace. A fight breaks out on one team, and on the other side, the leadership abilities of the Project Manager are called into question. During the presentation, an office hazard leads to an accident, putting one team's fate in jeopardy. In the end, one team pulls out a win, and a candidate on the losing side becomes the first to hear Trump's fateful words: "You're Fired!".
Each team must sell ice cream on the streets of New York for profit. One side takes a gamble on their location, and during the selling period, one team sabotages the other. In the boardroom, one Project Manager attacks a member of their team before Trump can even announce the result. The team with the most profit wins the task, leaving the losers to face Trump, and another candidate is fired.
The teams are tasked with running all aspects of a dog daycare and spa. One Project Manager threatens to bench a team member if they continue to act up. On the other side, a fearful team member is resentful when their Project Manager puts them in charge of dogs. A surprise visit from "Dog Whisperer" Cesar Millan puts everyone on their toes. In the boardroom, Trump reveals which team has pulled out the win, and on the losing team another candidate is fired.
Trump tasks the teams with creating a video for Popcorn Indiana, with the intention of it going viral on the internet. One team loses a member to a dental emergency, and violence in their video causes another teammate concern. On the other side, one team member is ostracized by the rest. In the end, one team hits the mark, with the other team left to fight it out in the boardroom, where another candidate is sent packing.
The teams are tasked with producing a fashion show to launch Rockport's Spring line of shoes. One team makes the risky decision to clothe their models only in shoes and underwear for their finale. The other team faces a crisis with an under-prepared emcee. In the most explosive boardroom yet, Mr. Trump rakes the losing team over the coals before lowering the boom with the fateful words, "You're Fired.".
Mr. Trump tasks each team with designing, selling, and operating pedicab tours. Right off the bat, one side falls short as two team members fail the test and are not allowed to operate pedicabs. The other team chooses a colorful theme, but escalating tensions threaten to derail sales. In the boardroom, one candidate begs Mr. Trump to get rid of a teammate. When the numbers are revealed, the losing team remains to fight it out and Mr. Trump fires another candidate.
Each team is given an up-and-coming musical, and tasked with producing a backer's audition for potential investors. One project manager admits to knowing nothing about musical theatre, but then sends away a concert pianist on their team. On the other team, a sidelined candidate takes over creative control. Broadway star Kristin Chenoweth helps judge each presentation, and the past comes back to haunt one teammate in a shocking boardroom, before Mr. Trump sends another candidate packing.
Teams must create a 4-page advertorial featuring the suits, shirts, and cufflinks of the Donald J. Trump Signature line. On one team, the project manager becomes obsessed with one of the models. The other project manager strips down to pose in a racy bedroom scene. In the boardroom, Mr. Trump reveals the winning team and the losers battle it out before another candidate is fired.
Mr. Trump tasks the teams with creating an in-store display for Perfumania, featuring a fragrance by Kim Kardashian. A female contestant feels pressured by male teammates to bring a feminine touch to the team's design. On the other side, a candidate worries that their display is becoming "bedazzled." Kim Kardashian makes a surprise visit to help judge the displays, and in the end, Mr. Trump fires another contestant.
With numbers dwindling on both teams, the candidates must scramble to produce 30-second commercials featuring FLO TV and AT&T Mobile TV. One team ambitiously plans to produce two different commercials, while the other takes a risk by casting a teammate in the lead role. A fatal flaw in one team's commercial sends them to the boardroom, where another candidate hears the words they dread from Mr. Trump - "You're fired.".
Teams are tasked with writing, directing, producing, and starring in a live sales segment on QVC, while Mr. Trump and Isaac Mizrahi watch the broadcast from New York City. When negotiating for the Isaac Mizrahi products they will sell, one team dupes the other and wins both their preferred product and sales time slot. Choosing a price point becomes a critical decision, and one team loses the task by just 10 sales. Facing Mr. Trump in the boardroom, the losing team battles it out, and another candidate is fired.
In Part 1 of the season finale, the final three face Mr. Trump in the boardroom to plead their cases. The axe falls on one, and the next day, the two remaining candidates are tasked with their final - and toughest - challenge. One finalist will run a VIP golf tournament featuring Kathy Griffin, and the other will manage a Liza Minnelli concert and tournament dinner. Previously-fired candidates return to help, but one is called away, leaving a finalist short-handed. A caterer drops out, a photographer ends up in the wrong state, and a major printing error all threaten to ruin the finalists' chances of becoming The Apprentice.
In Part 2 of the season finale, one finalist is horrified to realize that Kathy Griffin has missed the start of the tournament, and that Mr. Trump's golf team is missing a player. The other scrambles to meet the challenge of feeding 450 people before the Liza Minnelli concert. Cheap tournament prizes embarrass one finalist, but Liza Minnelli's performance wows the crowd and the evening ends on a high note. The next day, Donald Trump makes his final decision - one candidate is fired, and the other becomes The Apprentice.