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The Apprentice 2: Why Bradford Lostby David Bloomberg -- 09/21/2004
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Going into the second episode of The Apprentice 2, there was one contestant who was absolutely, positively 100% safe: Bradford. Nothing could happen to him. He could not be fired. He didn’t have to pack a bag if his team lost. He was exempt, immune, off the hook, not liable, impervious, protected. (Yeah, so I had a little fun with my word processor’s thesaurus.)
But then the unthinkable happened – Bradford was fired.
How did this happen? How did he go from the first person to ever be exempt on The Apprentice to the first person booted from his team? Why did Bradford lose?
You might already have read the Reality TV Hall of Shame Moment that Bradford received almost immediately after his firing (and if you haven’t, you should – the link is even handily provided for you). That article talks about how shamefully bad his move was that got him fired. But this article, of course, will look at Bradford’s actions in light of What ‘Apprentice 2’ Applicants Should Have Learned to see what he did right and what he did wrong.
The first rule is to show leadership. Bradford did just that when he volunteered in the first episode to leave the men behind and lead the women’s team without knowing them at all. He knew that he needed to step up and he did just that. Even better, his team won with him as Project Manager – though he had a few bumps along the way. Even in the second challenge, when he was not Project Manager, he showed leadership by performing the best out of anybody on his team. Bradford could have gone a long way using his leadership skills.
One reason he could have done so was that as the Project Manager, he followed the second rule and stayed cool under fire. When he was in a room of people shouting out different ideas, he made a command decision rather than folding and letting it descend into chaos – like Ivana pretty much did during her Project Manager stint. It could be argued that his decision was too quick and did not take other ideas into account, but he also showed the ability to maneuver under pressure as well, as shown by the way he dumped his idea and went to another when the Mattel toy design team indicated that something like his idea had already been tried and didn’t do too well.
However, Bradford did not do so well under pressure in the Boardroom. Ironically, Bradford should have been the calmest person there, but he made several critical mistakes. First, he called Carolyn “Caroline.” Not a huge deal, but as Trump said, you really should get the names of your judges right.
But the real killer, of course, was that he started saying things that he shouldn’t have said. Namely, when Trump told him that he of course could say things about Ivana that the others might not, because of his exemption, Bradford said without thinking that he didn’t need the exemption.
As we know, Trump jumped on this and took the exemption away. But why did Bradford say it? I have seen claims that he said it because he wanted to be in the trenches with his team, that he knew his record could carry the day, yadda yadda yadda. Yeah, whatever. I (and most people I’ve heard from) believe he said it in a rash and egotistical move. I think he was trying to show Trump how great he was. I don’t think he ever expected Trump to take the exemption away – and once he had made his boast, there was no way he could go back on it. Basically, he was in a pressure situation and said something he shouldn’t have.
Okay, with that said let’s look at the third rule: Have a backbone. We can’t really fault Bradford here – he did stand up for himself when Trump repeatedly asked him if that was a stupid move for which he should be fired. Unfortunately, by then the damage was already done. As we’ve already discussed, he also stood up for himself as the Project Manager.
Moving on, the fourth rule says people cannot be one-dimensional. The fifth says to be loyal. Neither really applied here, so let’s keep going.
The sixth rule says to not show your hand. Bradford, however, did show his hand. He told Ivana ahead of time that he blamed the failure on a lack of organization. She knew where his slings and arrows were going to be aimed, so it allowed her time to prepare. Of course, that really didn’t contribute to Bradford losing, because when he showed his hand he thought he was going to be immune. Still, it was not a smart move.
Bradford did well in the seventh rule, playing well with others. Pretty much everybody in the room agreed that he had done the best job during the ice cream challenge – indeed, he even changed the opinions of several women in his favor. Unfortunately, he didn’t play well with Donald Trump.
The eighth rule says to focus on the long-term. Here, Bradford failed. Rather than thinking about what Donald Trump wanted out of this whole Apprentice process, Bradford concentrated on how great he was in the first two challenges. He threw away his immunity in a move that Trump considered rash and stupid. He did not think about how his decision to give up his exemption would affect Trump’s opinion of him, or how it might be seen through the eyes of a man who has been through more business meetings than he can count.
Bradford didn’t really have time to worry about the ninth rule – thinking outside the box. The first two challenges were pretty straightforward: Make a new toy and sell ice cream. So there’s not much to say here.
The tenth rule, however, pretty much sums it all up: Use common sense. When Jason on the first series decided not to talk to the client in the advertising challenge, it went directly against what common sense would tell you. When David on the first series told Trump that he would not have been a better leader than Troy, it went directly against what common sense would tell you. And when Bradford in this episode told Trump he didn’t need the exemption, it went directly against what common sense would tell you. It was, in a word, stupid. As noted earlier, I’ve already addressed just how stupid it was in the Hall of Shame Moment that Bradford earned. But to summarize: If you have immunity on a reality TV show, use it!
As we look back at Bradford’s actions, it is clear why he was fired. Bradford made a rash decision that went against common sense and showed that he could say stupid and harmful things when put under pressure. To Trump, this was even worse than poor leadership and even worse than being a loose cannon. That is why Bradford lost.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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