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The Apprentice: Sex Sells, But Will It Win the Game?by David Bloomberg -- 01/30/2004
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As I have been watching The Apprentice over the past few weeks, one thing has stood out as a big problem in my eyes. No, it’s not the fact that the men have lost every single time. It’s not that Sam stayed around far longer than I think he should and that Bowie was fired this week even though both Kwame and Nick had many more reasons to get fired.
The problem I am talking about is the way the women have used what I would not exactly consider usual business practices to win the challenges – each and every time. As the old adage says, “Sex sells,” and the women are using this to their full advantage.
In the first challenge, selling lemonade, they sold cups of the stuff for five bucks each. Was the lemonade that good? No, even the women admitted it wasn’t. So what would compel somebody to pay that much? Well, the women were flirting with guys on the street, even offering their phone numbers! They fully admitted they were using sex to sell the lemonade.
The second challenge involved setting up an advertising campaign for a jet service. Once again, their main method of selling was sex. Admittedly, a lot of advertising does use sex, but they were truly blatant about it, turning the plane into a phallic symbol and using photos that immediately brought sex to mind. Going one step further, the women dressed in sexy stewardess outfits rather than business attire to make their presentations. And during the presentation Heidi even leaned against the table, showing off her cleavage. The ad agency owner even noted that they were setting the women’s movement back – but he still gave them the win.
In the third challenge, they had to get the best bargains for items. Once again, the women resorted to using their bodies to get better deals. Kristi pulled up her shirt to show off her abs, then later Katrina and Heidi whined and then danced for the gold salesman. I have to believe that this is something that Trump would never tolerate in his own organization, and something that does not promote long-time business deals, just one-time gains.
Finally, in the fourth episode the women put on tight clothing that showed skin and became the “Shooters Girls” at Planet Hollywood in an attempt to lure in guys. Then they even took it one step further and had guys buy them drinks and did shots with them. Do they really consider prancing around in skimpy outfits while drinking on the job to be good business practices?
At that point, Trump had had enough. I was glad Trump took the women aside to tell them to cool it with the sex selling, but it came about three episodes too late. And, let’s face it, what effect did it really have on them? It came during their reward for winning their fourth challenge in a row!
As Betsy Wasser noted in her recap of Episode 4, the eight women on this show “are supposed to be some of the best and brightest business women in the country. But the only strategy these supposedly successful women seem to know is ‘sex sells.’” But I think one thing contributing to the way they have been acting has been that while Trump has talked about how you have to deal with people again and they have to trust you, every challenge so far has been one-shot. This allowed the women to make utter fools of themselves in ways that I sure hope they wouldn’t in a true business situation.
For example, if you really owned a restaurant, you would want to encourage repeat business. You wouldn’t, for instance, tell people who couldn’t make it that night that they shouldn’t come back the next night instead. You wouldn’t go to their tables and pester them until they buy a shot. You might get a few bucks right then, but they are unlikely to return. However, in this game, only the one time matters, which is not a true representation of how somebody will do in real life business situations.
Indeed, even the guys started to cross the same line with the “Kwame Jackson” autographs. It’s doing something that might get you a few bucks now, but lose you a lot later – if there is a later. The set-up for the show encourages this type of behavior.
So, playing Devil’s Advocate, the women are in a game, not real life business. Just as in Survivor you might act in a way that you wouldn’t act normally – such as lying, scheming, stabbing people in the back, etc. – the game involved in The Apprentice puts the players in a position where they might do things that they wouldn’t normally do in business.
But the problem is that it holds out a real spot in business as its prize. On the one hand, the players want to do whatever it takes to win. On the other hand, they want to earn the respect of Donald Trump. The women have indeed done the former, but I rather doubt they’ve done the latter. Indeed, Carolyn, a woman who Trump obviously respects, seemed just as disgusted with the women's behavior as I am. That can’t bode well for the women.
Now that the teams are being shuffled, there will be women on both teams. This could mean they will rely less on sex selling – or it could mean we will see twice as much as each team tries to outdo the other. Hopefully, after Trump’s little lecture, they will give up on selling their bodies and get down to business.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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