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The Apprentice 3: A Look at the Final Fourby Betsy Wasser -- 04/28/2005
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The candidates on The Apprentice 3 have reached an important milestone. Alex, Craig, Kendra, and Tana have made the Final Four. Usually at this point in the season, the candidates undergo a round of job interviews and the field is narrowed to two. This time is different - we'll have one more task, then the candidates will go to interviews to determine the final two. Nevertheless, this is a good time to analyze the performance of these four candidates. Who has shown leadership? Who has made big mistakes? Who has the best win/loss record? Then, I'll predict how each candidate will finish and who will be the next Apprentice. For the past two seasons, I've correctly predicted the winner, but I've been wrong about the candidate who came in second. Will I get it right this time around? Let's look at the four hopefuls.
Original team: Book Smarts
Last job: Lobbyist/lawyer
Record as PM: One win (Graffiti), Two losses (American Eagle, Staples
Trips to the boardroom: Four (Burger King, Pizza, American Eagle, Staples)
A few weeks ago, Donald Trump said that Alex had been a star until he joined the Net Worth team. Alex has indeed done a number of impressive things so far. In the Burger King task, while project manager Todd sat in a booth and did paperwork, Alex did most of the actual work as restaurant manager. That showed early initiative, and although the team didn't win the task, Trump determined that Alex did a good job. He volunteered to serve as project manager for the graffiti task and immediately found himself a bit out of his element. He knew that he didn't know much about urban hip hop culture, and instead of throwing up his hands, he took action and asked several neighborhood residents what they'd like to see in the ad. That gave him a focus that helped him win the task. Even more importantly, Alex never lost sight of the fact that what he was creating was, in fact, an ad. He included the E for Everyone rating, for example, which got good feedback from the focus group.
In the Home Depot task, after Craig asked him to support his box idea, Alex threw himself behind it and changed his negative attitude. His teammates followed suit, and all of them supported the idea they originally hated. Indeed, Alex seems to have the respect of his team. They listened to him when he changed his attitude about the Home Depot project, Net Worth chose him to join their team, and Bren and Chris clearly loved working with him. Alex has also served as project manager three times, more than any of his opponents. The fact that he's survived the boardroom in a season in which Trump tends to fire the project managers speaks well for Alex. And as Bill Rancic pointed out in his book You're Hired, trips to the boardroom aren't necessarily a disadvantage, as they give you more face time with Trump.
However, Alex has had some major misfires so far. He didn't support project manager Craig on the Home Depot task until he got a talking to about it. In the pizza task, his teammates noticed that he spent a lot of time flirting with attractive customers that he should have spent working. He was in charge of interior photography of the car in the Pontiac task and failed to get more than one usable shot of the inside of the car and didn't get the one specific shot of the logo that he was supposed to.
In his two recent performances as project manager, he showed some serious weaknesses. In the American Eagle task, some of his ideas were really bad - for example, he wanted to add a pocket to a jacket to hold a laptop, an uncomfortable and impractical plan. He also showed a real lack of organization. Angie, for example, had a list a mile long of things to do, while Chris had nothing to do but recover the credit card, and Alex himself had one item on his to do list. The chaos really caused problems when the team almost didn't make the presentation on time. They arrived at the nick of time, but Angie was flustered and gave a shaky performance. As project manager of the Staples task, Alex was frankly lucky not to have been fired. He made the bad decision not to meet the Staples executives in person, and the bulky, impractical table that was the losing design was 100% his vision.
Original team: Street Smarts
Last job: Shoeshine business owner
Record as PM: Two wins (Home Depot, Staples)
Trips to the boardroom: Two (Graffiti, Mini Golf)
The two times Craig served as project manager, we really got a chance to see what he's made of. In the Home Depot task, he came up with the idea of building a storage box and having customers decorate it, getting the entire family involved. It was a simple and effective idea that the customers loved. Home Depot liked the idea enough to use those clinics in their stores. And Craig managed to pull it off even with his entire team mocking the idea. To his further credit, Craig didn't just sit back and do all of the work himself. He talked to Alex and Bren, asked for their support, and got it. That was good leadership.
In the Staples challenge, Craig used Kendra's suggestion of using stackable organizers to come up with their organizer caddy, an idea, again, good enough for Staples to use. His team's presentation was funny and effective, and it was a clear win for them.1 2 3 Next-->
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