Monday, February 27, 2006

The New Season of Apprentice

I watch the Apprentice in spite of Donald Trump, not because of Donald Trump. I liked the Martha Stewart version better because it had more interesting and creative projects. I think her show did better than it got credit for especially since it was up against Lost. That said, I'm an Apprentice addict so I was right there for the premiere of the spring show tonight. It's annoying that the show is so Trump focused that we don't get a really good look at the candidates--there just isn't time to learn about them with the Donald in the room after all. Some of the candidates are already standouts by the end of the episode, but that's not really a compliment. I'm too lazy to hit the website to figure out backgrounds and put names with faces. Maybe I'll be inspired later in the week.

Our show begins with Trump bragging about his private jet and assuring the candidates that they too can someday have a private jet if they learn the lessons that he has to teach. The candidates are given the opportunity to toot their own horns and tell their backgrounds while standing out on the runway of the Republic airport in what appears to be a nearly gale force wind. This is not flattering to the women's hair. Only Trump's hair product is stalwart enough to defy the wind. I ponder whether these females are really representative of women in the business world in that so many of the female candidates on the Apprentice have long silken locks of the blondish persuasion. Trump nominates Tarek the mensa guy to be a project manager and Allie the Harvard Business School grad to be the other. They get to pick teams this season. Woohoo. No more boys against the girls--I was so sick of that. Since nobody really has the names candidates are selected by "I'll take that one" or "The beautiful girl in brown."

The task is for the teams is to sell Sam's Club Plus memberships and they have a Good Year blimp available for advertising. Allie's team is hereafter known as Synergy--a name good selection. Syngery's team is Allie, Andrea, Brent-new Marcus guy, Sean-English accent guy, Pepi, Tammy, Michael, Roxanne, and Stacy. Tarek's team is hereafter known as Gold Rush--not as impressive a team name. Gold Rush is Tarek, Dan, Bryce, Charmaine, Summer, Leslie, Teresa, Lee, and Lenny-Russian guy.

On Synergy we already see that Brent has the potential to be the new Marcus. He talks alot and says stupid things. His plump shiny face is unattractive. He does contribute the seed that eventually becomes the idea but doesn't get credit for it. The team decides to offer free massages and manicures to their target market which is women primarily. The team all show up on the day in sharp looking black Sam's club shirts and khakis. Allie very intelligently puts Brent in the blimp and marginalizes him. The team seems to have a very effective selling technique.

At Gold Rush, the team elects to focus on the small business owner for the seller strategy. They very intelligently make sure the Sam's Club logo is well-presented on the blimp advertising crawl. Somebody's been watching past Apprentices! Tarek assigns Summer the job of calling a list of restaurants and urging them to come out to Sam's the next day. Summer fumbles her way through one phone call. She is stymied by the fact that she has no hook or reason to urge them to come to Sam's tomorrow. She can't exactly tell them that they should come out and buy a membership so that Gold Rush can win a challenge, now can she? She gives up after one call. Lenny and Summer are assigned to the blimp. Lenny gets the job because he's from New Brunswich and knows the area--Summer is up there to be marginalized. The team wears royal blue Sam's club shirts and they pair them with jeans. I am unimpressed by their appearance. The blues don't match and some of the jeans are pretty crappy looking. It is not professional looking. One member--Lee? wears a suit to liasion with small business owners. Wasn't that there target market group? With that rationale everyone should be wearing suits.

As you can probably tell, I am hoping that Gold Rush will lose. I do not like people like Tarek who feel the need to mention their mensa membership whenever they can. I expect that I am biased--my former sister-in-law was in mensa or smart enough to be and my mother made over her quite a lot because of it. Practically speaking however, she was an idiot who couldn't competently run a house so I think giftedness is what you make of it.

Back to the show--in the board room we learn that Synergy wins with 43 memberships sold and Gold Rush loses with 40 memberships sold. I am often amazed at how little difference there is in results. It suggests that the strategies for bringing in customers are not critically important, but rather than individual effort and salesmanship matter. Massages and manicures clearly didn't result in a tremendous boom compared to Gold Rush's 485 totes. Wonder if there was a cost differential? Who got more bang for their buck? That would have been a better judge of who won the task, unless both teams spent their entire budget. Unfortunately we never get to know the nuts and bolts of the details, which I find frustrating.

Gold Rush is almost unanimous in its immediate reaction that Summer-who only called one restaurant has to go. Lee makes the mistake of suggesting that perhaps the task lacked a big idea. Tarek finds it necessary to warn Lee that saying such a heresy in the board room will make him a target. Tarek is a braggart and a bully.

In the boardroom, Tarek immediately calls out Lenny-the Russian guy and Summer as the weak team members. What he's got against Lenny we don't ever learn. Perhaps it is that his English is so poor he will have difficulty defending himself in a word fight. Lee, not giving into the not so subtle threat Tarek leveled at him, says the team lacked a big idea for which he blames Tarek. Tarek brings Lee, Summer and Lenny into the boardroom with him. Things are going great--Trump is ignoring Carolyn's opinion about Summer and focusing his ire on Tarek. I get the feeling he didn't like it that he brought Lee into the board room just for voicing a different opinion. Then Summer had to go and open her big mouth. Trump is all set to fire Tarek. He's beginning his speech that will conclude with "Your're fired." when Summer interrupts him. Summer Summer Summer. What a moron. I concluded that you deserve to go because you ARGUE with the Donald. Hello. The Donald doesn't let candidates argue with him. The Donald doesn't want you telling him he's firing someone for the wrong reasons. The Donald kicks Summer to the curb and few have deserved it more. What a bone headed dimwit move that was. I'm still reeling from the utter self-destructiveness of her mouthing off. Meanwhile, Tarek is warned that only Summer's stupidity has saved him. Trump tells Carolyn and George that Tarek is over-rated. No shock here--I refer you again to my 'genius' former sister-in-law.


PJ said...

Every season someone gets fired for interupting Trump. It makes you wonder do they even watch the

Robin said...

Oh yeah--if there's one thing guarantee to get you ousted it's interrupting The Donald. Disagreeing with him can also be deadly for your career on the show. Duh--it's his show and his ego is the size of Mt McKinley. It makes me wonder how the show can say the candidates are the brightest and best when they don't research the format or the idiosyncracies of the guy they have to impress.

Mike Barer said...

Yes you too can be like the Donald, cranky, twice divorced, bad hair. It's always been my dream!