Tuesday, March 07, 2006

The Apprentice-The Razor's Edge

When last we met our fearless apprentice candidates, Tarek had almost gotten his rear kicked from the competition for using the phrase "member of Mensa" too many times. However, proving that even the cognitively impaired can learn, Tarek recognizes that he owes Summer? (hey, it's been a week) for saving him with her a word-too-many-car-wreck. Tarek cannot resist the clever turn of phrase however and assures us that he understands that "second place is first in a long line of losers". Right. Gotta remember that.

Assisting Trump today we meet his daughter Ivanka for the first time. She's wearing the ultimate women's business suit--feminine but serious. Bill Rancic is sitting in for George on this task. I have a momentarily loss of attention as I wonder if Bill has hit on Ivanka or if he considers himself too old for her. How old is she? Mid-twenties? In looks, Ivanka is an almost eerie combination of her mother's and father's features. You can actually see the paternal stamp on her face, and yet, it looks good on her.

The task today is a marketing strategy for Gillette Fusion razors. Thus, the title "The Razor's Edge". Boy, these producers don't want to let any opportunity for product placement go by, do they? Trump explaining that he doesn't "understand" text messaging--then explains text messaging to the assembled apprenti--as Randal would say. Hmm. He doesn't know what it is--yet he explains it. Riiight. The market task is to convince the most people to text message a key word to some number somewhere. It is never explained what the point of these text messages is--I mean, are you going to be receiving a message about the razor in reply? Are you entered in a drawing? How is this marketing, exactly? Seems to me product demonstration like the Tide Pen would be way more effective--whatever. I'm just watching the show.

Pepi is named project manager for Synergy. They begin well, discussing the demographic of people who really use text messaging. If I was in the room my hand would have been up in the air--teenagers and people with little fingers! Unfortunately, the good beginning is bogged down in Brent trying to throw out ideas and Stacy ignoring and interrupting him. This culminates in Brent telling Stacy, "Stop doing that! Or I'll confront you in front of everyone instead of in the hallway where you can report the event to the others giving it a threatening vibe." Stacy runs to tell the team, "We've got to fire Brent. He shook his finger at me. He stood close to me. He told me to stop interrupting him. He threatened me. I felt threatened." Ay-yi-yih. Brent, the pillsbury dough boy threatening? Come on...what a cop-out. Meanwhile, time's a-wasting and nobody's getting any planning done. On the way back to the apartment Michael suggests wearing bathrobes the next day and everyone is so exhausted from fighting all day that they don't even wimper a disagreement.

Our Trumpism for the show is "You can't judge a book by its cover." I usually fast-forward through the Trump parts and now I remember why. Heck, if he hadn't shared that priceless bit of wisdom, no telling how long people would be going around judges books by covers. The fact that he's married three very beautiful women (each younger than the last, I believe) and is walking around with a comb-over that is an architectural masterpiece should not make us cynical about his actual adherance to this noble philosphy.

Gold Rush has inexpicably named Lee the project manager. Someone forgot to tell Lenny about it though. He runs out of the team meeting hijacking Charmaine and Leslie because he is frustrated that the team is voting on what key word to use. He thinks they could just use the letter a. They need to start getting text messages sent. That whole brand name connection's not important, after all. Lenny, Charmaine and Leslie end up in Times Square in the dark calling Lee to meet them because their phone is about to go dead. Has the task started? Do these text messages count?

The next morning Gold Rush leaves for the TKTS line in Times Square at 6:30 am. They stake out their positions and go to work. We don't really see them again. They must be going to win.

Synergy is awoken ever so gently by Roxanne who heard the other team leaving. Do the Synergy teammates leap out of bed like those who have over-slept? Heck, no. They have breakfast--they bathe--they must hang out because they don't show up at Times Square until 11:30 am. Clearly they are operating under a post-fight hangover. After a time, Synergy begins to get a clue that they might lose the task. This inspires Brent to act like someone who has escaped from an insane asylum. Now me, I would have slunk away from Brent and pretended not to know him. Our Synergy team are loyal, especially for people who wanted to fire Brent yesterday because they stand around in a circle watching him. No one is cringing. No one. How can this be? Are they so mentally befuddled that they imagine Brent is a good dancer? That his strategy of acting like an imbecile will translate into a win? I ponder the mystery here.

Back at Trump Tower we learn that Gold Rush made 683 text messages while Synergy made only 458. Trump refers to this repeatedly as being a 50% win margin or half again as much. Now, I'm no Math whiz (which is a huge understatement) but I calculate the difference between the two teams at 225 messages. Synergy comparatively made 67% of Gold Rush's volume. Unless my Math is very poor. Which it might be.

In planning for the board room Synergy is 100% committed to the "Brent is crazy and we can't work with him so he should go" strategy. They discuss Brent's aggressiveness and abnormality. They ponder the mystery that is Brent, however, they do not solve him. They prep Stacy to tell her he "threatened" me story. Stacy, however, has lost whatever adrenaline high caused her to use such language. She does not now remember saying threatened. She did not feel threatened. She just didn't like Brent yelling at her. She was uncomfortable. Her teammates feel betrayed by this revision of history.

Brent, meanwhile, knows that the team is out to get him but he's not worried because "I'm smarter than them." Yes, if only saying it, could make it so, I'd be a billionaire. Brent then asserts, "Brent is not going home this evening, that's for sure." Now, usually that's pretty much a guarantee that Brent's going home. I'm creeped out by Brent's calling himself by his own name. Is that abnormal? Maybe I should email the team to find out what they think.

In the boardroom Trump calls this a "disastrous team" and says he's going to fire TWO. Woooo. Two--he's never done that before. Unless you count all the other times he's fired two..or maybe that time he fired FOUR. But other than that...

So here's the breakdown--

Michael is a doofus; he suggested the lame bathrobes. I don't hold this against him--heck, he had been in a day long argument about Brent. That's gotta melt your brain.

Stacy is a doofus; she picked the horrible, bad site AND she made the fatal mistake of saying that Brent threatened her when Michael sold her out by mentioning it.

Pepi is a doofus; he was a weak leader. In fact, when asked by Ivanka to explain how he had guided the team and led them in a general focused direction, Pepi could not answer the question. At least I don't think he answered the question. You may disagree. Here's what he said in response, "My leadership style has always been consistent. I am a a manager. I have been in the past." Well okay then.

In the end Trump fired Stacy and Pepi and had scathing words for Brent and Michael. Michael gets another chance. Brent is a disaster who won't last long. Brent did last long enough to smirk at Stacy and Pepi from the elevator as he went back to the apartment however. Sometimes you have to take your moment when you can. In Brent-world, that smirk is probably the equivalent of being named Trump's apprentice for normal people.

No comments: