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The Apprentice 5: Who Will Win?by Betsy Wasser -- 05/29/2006
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A few episodes back, Sean commented that he and Lee have very different backgrounds. Sean is 11 years older than Lee. Lee is from New York; Sean is from London. Lee is Jewish, whereas Sean is half Arab. Despite those differences, the two of them have worked well together. Well, no more. Lee and Sean are now the final two, and will be going head to head to see who will be Donald Trump’s next Apprentice. Let’s take a look at these two men, their records so far, and predict who will win. I’ve made these predictions every season since the first, and so far the only time I was wrong was when I predicted Tana would beat out Kendra – who knew Tana would choke so horribly in the final task? Will I be right again?
Lee Bienstock, 22, business analyst, Brooklyn, New York
Record as Project Manager: 3-1
Boardroom Appearances: 5
Ever since Andy, young candidates have had a tough challenge on The Apprentice. Their teams don’t take them seriously, perceiving them as inexperienced. Trump questions whether or not they’re up to the task of managing one of his companies. Lee is now the youngest candidate to make the final two, having managed to escape those pitfalls. How has he done?
From the very first episode, Lee stood apart from the crowd. He was the one who questioned whether manager Tarek’s strategy had a big idea, a problem that lead to the team’s loss. Nevertheless, Lee made a tremendous effort in this task. Instead of donning a Sam’s Club polo shirt like the rest of the team, ,Lee wore a suit and offered “business consulting.” It was a smart idea. Dressing up gave Lee an air of importance that, looking as young as he does, would otherwise have been lacking. He worked with three other teammates focusing on sales. The sales group must have done well, because despite the fact that Gold Rush didn’t have as clever of a concept as Synergy, they only lost the task by three memberships. Lee showed that he is an effective salesman and knows how to play to his strengths.
Lee volunteered to be Project Manager on the second task. Although his team won, he struggled at first. He spent a long time getting a group consensus on what the text message should be and was accused of leadership by committee, always a no-no in Trump’s eyes. He also had his team spend a lot of time researching the best locations to work from until Lenny finally got frustrated with him and demand that they stop researching and start getting people to text. The impressive thing is that Lee realized that he was wrong and followed Lenny’s advice. The team got up bright and early and secured a superior location near the TKTS booth in Times Square. There, they were able to capitalize on a captive audience and got a decisive win. Lee made some initial mistakes at first that were significant, but he was smart enough to listen to his teammate and change direction.
In the fourth episode, it was Lee’s advise that helped steer the team in the right direction. Gold Rush was challenged to design a billboard promoting a new cereal. Lee urged the team to select a simple concept. They did, especially compared to the jumbled mess that Synergy came up with. It was a solid suggestion, and helped the team win.
In the next task, Lee ran into trouble. Project Manager Dan noted that every time one of the viceroys appeared, Lee would rush over to him or her to update them on the situation. The team perceived him as less interested in working and more interested in positioning himself in front of the right people. Trump accused him of being a politician in the boardroom, an accusation that he’d echo many more times in the fuure.
Lee had problems again in the Boys’ and Girls’ Club task. He was the one who suggested that the room have a music theme, an idea that was later criticized as being too narrow. He did prove himself to be a team player when Project Manager Lenny struggled with the presentation. Lee jumped in and helped him out. That was great, though Bill and Carolyn wondered in the boardroom if the team had made a mistake by letting Lenny present in the first place. Lee explained that it would have looked weak if the PM hadn’t been the one presenting. Instead of focusing on that, Lee (and the rest of Gold Rush) should have chosen the person who would have been the best presenter.
Lee was very concerned after that task that his good friend Lenny would be fired. He spent time trying to coach Lenny on how to answer questions, going so far as to come up with a cheat sheet of words and phrases that Trump likes to hear. Clearly, Lee has done his homework. Will it be perceived as his being a smart planner, or will it come across as calculating? It’s hard to say.
As expected, Lee defended Lenny vehemently in the boardroom. Lee said he believed in Lenny. Carolyn was less impressed, asking if Lee was Lenny’s lawyer or something. Trump, however, said that he admired Lee’s loyalty.
In the next task, Lee really stood out. He worked with the 7-11 manager to remove all of the sandwiches other than the P’eatzza that the team was promoting. He tried to negotiate a bulk sale of 1,000 sandwiches. True, he failed, but Trump later agreed that if it had worked, it would have been spectacular, and that Lee’s idea was worth the effort. Even more importantly, Lee was the one who spoke up- more than once- to encourage Project Manager Leslie of setting the price point too high. Synergy won the task in large part due to their competitive pricing, so it’s easy to argue that Lee was right in this case. Still, the accusation of Lee being a politician came up again. Leslie said that Lee has a tendency to argue against the team so that he’s in a good position in the boardroom if they lose. Trump later told Lee that he was very close to being the one fired.
Lee then volunteered to lead the team again in the next task, designing brochures for Ellis Island. Gold Rush slaughtered Synergy in this task. Just as they did in the Gillette task, they got up early and got the best location. They were able to out maneuver and out sell the other team easily. But how much of that victory can Lee claim credit for? Everyone said that Gold Rush’s brochure was better, but Lee delegated all of the work for the design and copywriting to Tarek and Michael. Gold Rush had a single big sale, but that was thanks to Charmaine’s efforts. In fact, Lee made things more difficult for her by giving her 65 pages of leads without any kind of filtering or targeting. Still, I can’t overstate the importance of the location, though was Lee really responsible for it?1 2 3 Next-->
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