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The Apprentice: Martha Stewart – Why Jeff Lostby David Bloomberg -- 09/23/2005
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Jeff had the dishonor of being the first person voted off of the first episode of the first season of the new show, The Apprentice: Martha Stewart. What’s even worse is that most viewers knew he was going about five minutes into the first challenge. But why was it so obvious? What did he do wrong? Did he do anything right? Why did Jeff lose?
As we have done for several seasons of The Apprentice, we will look at questions like these each week on Martha Stewart’s show. This first season, we are using the same article as a blueprint for both shows, though there are a few added notes for Stewart’s apprentice wannabes. So let’s look back at What ‘Apprentice 4’ and ‘Martha Stewart Apprentice’ Applicants Should Have Learned to see what we can find.
The first rule for anybody trying to be an apprentice is to show leadership. Perhaps the only thing Jeff did right was volunteering to be the Project Manager in the first task. Doing so was a risky proposition, but it showed that he wanted to prove himself.
Jeff even followed the portion of this rule that notes, “When you are the Project Manager, by all means be the manager. Don’t let other strong personalities overwhelm you. … And if you’re going to be blamed for a loss, make sure it’s a loss that you created and that you took a stand!Unfortunately, Jeff followed that a little too well. He also forgot the part in the middle that said, “Show your strengths.” We’ll get to that more in a bit.
The second rule tells candidates to stay cool under fire. While Jeff seemed calm enough under the stressful situation of trying to rewrite a classic fairy tale in a short timeframe, he did so by taking complete command of the situation and not allowing anybody else to actually do much of anything. His method of handling conflict was not to try to resolve it, but to simply say, “You’re wrong, I’m right, and I’m the boss, so go away.” Not exactly the best method in the world.
Third is to have a backbone. Obviously, Jeff was not lacking here – the man was all backbone – in fact, I think it took the place of his brain. One part of the rule says that if you think you are the best at doing something, you should try to do it. Dawn was definitely the best qualified to write the children’s story. But as soon as she showed that she could not work in the chaotic environment, Jeff decided he could do it himself. Like I said, all backbone, no brain.
The fourth rule says that scheming and plotting usually don’t work. I already hear people saying, “But Jim schemed and plotted and got rid of Jeff.” Yes, Jim schemed and plotted. Yes, Jeff was sent home. But the two were not really connected – Jeff dug his own grave, he didn’t really need Jim’s help with a shovel.
Plus, Jeff himself broke this rule. He talked to Bethenny and probably others about targeting Dawn. Dawn knew Jeff would come after her, and she was prepared to defend herself. Jeff figured if he couldn’t “whoop her ass,” then he needed to “go home and hang my head in shame.” I guess that head’s a-hangin’.
Fifth is to play well with others. Where do we begin with Jeff? As I’ve already mentioned, Jeff did not stand for any contradiction of what he said. He was the boss, that was that – not a good way to play well with others. He was on the team that organized themselves as being creative, yet he didn’t want to hear anybody else’s ideas once he had something in mind.
Let’s look at how he handled Dawn. His first thought was that she was the best person to write the book. But then it turned out she could not work in the loud environment of their brainstorming room. So did he realize that some people have different ways of being creative and find her a nice, quiet place to work? No. He imposed his ideas of how somebody should be creative and because she did not work the same way, he took it from her and, in his own words, “marginalized” her.
To quote from that rule: “Stewart [doesn’t] need somebody who will cause tension and problems in the ranks. You have to remember that this is not just a competition for a prize, but a job application. … if you can’t get along with people, that’s a big strike against you.” Jeff could get along with people only if they agreed with him and bowed down to him. Other than that, he wanted nothing to do with them or their opinions. Being Project Manager does not equate to being a dictator who can ignore his underlings.1 2 Next-->
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