Full Show Index
Advertise With Us
Write For Us
The Apprentice: Martha Stewart – Why Chuck Lostby David Bloomberg -- 10/05/2005
View Printable version of this article
Chuck was predestined to lead his team in the flower-selling challenge, as he had worked as a floral designer. It seemed like a natural fit. Unfortunately, almost nothing about this task came naturally to Chuck – well, except his firing. How did he manage to make the absolutely correct decision on who to bring into the Conference Room, yet still get fired? Why did Chuck lose?
The answers to these questions lie within both the episode we watched and What ‘Apprentice 4’ and ‘Martha Stewart Apprentice’ Applicants Should Have Learned. So it’s up to us to dig them out. Well, okay, we don’t have to dig very deep – but still, we’ll get out the little garden hand shovel and see what we can unearth.
Well lookee here – the very first rule, and the most important, is to show leadership. We’ve struck gold in our very first shovel-full. Much of the second episode was dedicated to showing us just what kind of a leader Chuck was – or, more precisely, what type of a leader Chuck was not. Let us count some of the ways:
OK, that’s enough of that – the point has been made. Chuck sucked as a leader. And considering that Martha specifically said in the Conference Room that managing people is part of an executive’s job (no, really?), this was a bit of a problem. In fact, this point was even her question to Martha this week, with Martha telling viewers that leadership is important and a good leader can create a good business. Ya think? Wow, that’s brilliant. I wish I’d thought of emphasizing how important leadership is. Oh, wait, I did – that’s why it’s Rule #1.
And what’s Rule #2? That would be staying cool under fire. Uh oh, Chuck’s in trouble again. As we’ve already discussed, Chuck was so distraught by the pressure of (not) leading his team that he was ready to walk out the door. He rallied once, but it didn’t last long, and by that point it really didn’t matter – it was clear that Chuck could not deal with even the simplest of leadership or conflict situations.
The third rule says to have a backbone. Well, Chuck wasn’t as bad in this regard as he was in others. He was the one who decided to go with the tulips and a simple way of selling, despite Jim screaming at him over the phone. And he also stood up to Jim when Jim wanted Chuck to attack Dawn in the Conference Room. And he did try to stand up for himself in the Conference Room – admitting his faults and acknowledging that he might be sent home, but also explaining why he brought Jim and Dawn with him.
Chuck was not one to scheme and plot, so the fourth rule really didn’t apply to him. But you know when Jim eventually gets fired, we’ll have plenty to talk about here. For now, I’ll just point out that Jim tried to plot Dawn’s demise, and we saw how well that worked.
Similarly, Chuck had no problem with the fifth rule, which says to play well with others and stay professional. Again, Jim definitely does have a problem here, but that’s a tale for another day.
The sixth rule says to focus on the long-term. Chuck led a team that tried to get customers by sending out girls in Dutch outfits. Even if they had won, this was simply a bad, bad, bad idea. Trump might have tsk-tsked but secretly enjoyed it. Martha hated it. I even noted in this rule that there is “no way she would put up with women demeaning themselves.” No, it wasn’t stripping off a skirt for twenty bucks, but it wasn’t exactly high-class either. It was a bad idea in an attempt to get some short-term gain.
Seventh is to understand the challenge. While this one was all about bringing in the most money, it was also about creativity (when we think long-term, as the sixth rule indicated, above). Unfortunately, Chuck’s team did neither. He went for the easiest path, selling one specific flower type at a relatively cheap price. It lacked creative thought, and it was destined to create less income. Sure, people might be more inclined to drop a few bucks on a low-priced item, but how many more sales did they have to make compared to the other team? Also, what if some people didn’t like tulips? Too bad. Meanwhile, the other team had numerous possibilities and pricepoints to take full advantage of the customers.
The eighth rule discusses more specifically the creative aspect. We’ve already gone over it because being creative was actually a part of the task, so there’s no point in rehashing it.
Ninth is a warning that contestants cannot be one-dimensional. This is a perfect example – Chuck used to work as a floral designer. But Martha is not looking for just another floral designer (let alone one who thinks that a bunch of tulips is the height of marketing). As we discussed earlier, Martha clearly noted that she needs an executive who can lead as well as being creative. Chuck showed neither side of himself.
Finally, we arrive at the rule that says to use common sense. While it was fairly obvious that Chuck was going home, if he wanted to stay he should have gone about things in a far different way within the Conference Room. For one thing, he repeatedly took responsibility upon himself for their loss. Yes, I do think he was largely responsible, but common sense says that if you don’t want to be fired, don’t blame yourself!
Mind you, common sense also tells me that contestants should have had at least some experience in managing people before trying to become Martha’s apprentice, but I’m not involved in casting.
So Jim and Dawn lived to fight (against each other) another day while Chuck rode off into the sunset. As much as I would have liked to see Jim leave my television set, Martha did make the right choice. Chuck was a disaster as a leader, was incapable of functioning under pressure most of the time, and was ready to simply quit. This is not the type of person that Martha needs by her side. And that is why Chuck lost.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
Be sure to sign up for our e-mail update so you can stay informed about new articles on the site! And take a look at the rest of the site. You can find out about some other popular shows at our The Amazing Race 5 page and our Survivor: Vanuatu page; and don't miss The Reality TV Hall of Shame. You can even buy reality show stuff at our Reality TV Store!
For more news about reality TV, be sure to check out SirLinksALot: The Apprentice: Martha Stewart!
View Printable version of this article