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The Apprentice, Episode 5: Flea Circusby Betsy Wasser -- 02/06/2004
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This week’s episode of The Apprentice begins with the two teams milling around, waiting to see who will come home from the boardroom. Omarosa says that some of the other candidates seem to be under the impression that they’re there to have “Kumbaya time,” but that the competition is what matters. When Nick and Kwame arrive, Amy is surprised that Bowie is gone. Nick apparently suspected as much; he remarks, “You guys thought I was gone.” Heidi says that the morale on the men’s team is very low.
Bill and Troy talk on the balcony. Bill says that he doesn’t want to look back on their time in Trump Tower and remember lots of backstabbing and betrayal – he wants the experience to be as positive as possible. Troy agrees, and they hug. The two of them resolve to move on and to take things as they come. It looks like the frustration they had with each other last week over how to play the Trump board game is forgotten.
The next morning, Omarosa answers the Trump Phone. The candidates have one hour to meet in the boardroom, and the project managers should sit directly in front of Trump. As everyone gets ready, I notice a note on a chalkboard in the background that says, “We love u, Bowie!” Aw. Bowie must have been a popular guy. Kristi says that she’s excited to see what will happen next.
In the boardroom, Trump introduces Bernie Diamond, who will be sitting in while George is away on business. Trump says that in the past four weeks, the men’s team has been absolutely decimated. And in business, when things aren’t working out, you reshuffle. It’s time to rearrange the teams. Upon hearing this news, the men look pleased, but the women seem nervous. Kristi and Nick are the project managers, and, for the moment, team captains. Nick will choose a woman first, and then Kristi will choose a man. They’ll pick their teams alternating genders so that the teams will each have two men and four women. Trump is glad to see that Nick took his advice and is serving as project manager.
Nick starts first. He chooses Amy, Bill, Katrina, Ereka, and Tammy. Kristi chooses Troy, Jessie, Kwame, and Heidi. Then, as in every elementary school game of kickball, someone has to be picked last. In this case, it’s Omarosa, who joins Kristi’s team. There’s an awkward moment of silence before Kristi calls Omarosa’s name. At first, I thought that Kristi smirked and looked smug about Omarosa being last picked. But I watched the tape several times, and I’m confident that wasn’t the case. Omarosa was last, and Kristi looked at her, smiled, and nodded, and then called Omarosa’s name. Omarosa smiled back, and both women looked genuine.
Right off the bat, I think Nick’s team (still called Versacorp) looks better. Amy so far seems like the smartest and most capable woman in the running. Plus, she, Ereka, and Katrina have all won tasks as project managers. Bill is bright, resourceful, and likeable, and Tammy must be creative if she came up with the infamous testicle ad. On the other hand, Kristi, leader of the new Protégé team, has Jessie, who has yet do make much of an impression (even as a team leader), Heidi, who has done little other than shake her ass and whine, and two guys who, as much as I like them, have been project managers on losing teams. Plus she’s got Omarosa, who has struggled to get along with her team. It looks like Nick chose more wisely.
Trump explains the task: each team has $1,000 in seed money. They’re to use the money to buy whatever they want, and resell it at a flea market. The team that makes the most profit wins. It’s an interesting challenge, and I immediately start thinking about what I would do. For a thousand dollars, I could buy a lot of flour, sugar, eggs, and the like to bake cookies. Really good cookies could easily sell for a buck each, which would be a huge profit margin. As I’m wondering how long I’d have to bake before the flea market began, Versacorp and Protégé get to work.
Bill says that it’s been really hard losing so many challenges. He’s confident that New Versacorp will be much stronger. Ereka is also happy that there’s less tension and says, “Nick picked a strong team.” In an interview, Amy says that the team will make and sell women’s clothing and jewelry. The team is shopping for t-shirts, tank tops, ribbons, and jewelry. Nick is with two of the women and looks on as they choose ribbon with which to enhance t-shirts. Bill calls him on the cell phone to say that he’s found t-shirts for $14 a dozen. Nick looks to his teammates, and they agree that Bill found a good deal and should buy the shirts.
In an interview, Tammy notes that Nick defers to the women in most decisions, whether it’s choosing what product to sell or what stores to shop in. She says, “It is not smart for Nick to defer so many of the project manager tasks to the women on the team because this is Nick’s moment to shine. I think Nick will be back in the boardroom and I think he will get fired.” I really disagree with Tammy here. In these challenges, it’s important to make a decision fast. In this case, someone suggested buying t-shirts, decorating them with ribbons, and reselling them at a profit. It’s a lot like my cookie plan – you take a couple of inexpensive commodities and turn them into something better. Would Nick have come up with a better plan if he’d hemmed and hawed and questioned their decision? Maybe, but more likely, he’d come up with an idea that was just as good or worse, and would have alienated his teammates by not accepting their good plan. Also, a smart leader takes advantage of the skills of the people working for him, so if Nick doesn’t know much about ribbons, isn’t it better for him to rely on Amy’s expertise? And finally, I doubt Tammy would be saying anything if a female leader, a member of her old team, were leading this way. Tammy is apparently still thinking along the old team lines, or she wouldn’t be so flippant about the idea of Nick losing – because that would mean that Tammy loses, too.1 2 3 4 5 Next-->
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