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The Apprentice 4: Why Chris Lostby David Bloomberg -- 10/06/2005
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Chris seemed like a natural to lead the men to victory in the second challenge of the fourth Apprentice. The challenge involved creating an ad campaign and Chris works in advertising. The challenge involved Lamborghinis, and men love their sports cars – just ask Excel. So he should have led them to victory. Instead, he led them to defeat and then led a charge right out the door. What happened? How did he get fired before crazy Markus? Why did Chris lose?
The answers lie within the pages (or, since you’re likely reading this online, the electrons) of What ‘Apprentice 4’ and ‘Martha Stewart Apprentice’ Applicants Should Have Learned. So let’s see what we can find.
The first rule, as always, is to show leadership. In general, Chris was a good leader. He knew the team had to meet with the client; he knew how to delegate tasks; he knew that some of his team members were more able to do complex jobs than others; he did his best to keep tabs on crazy Markus.
But Chris also let his fellow players have a fair amount of freedom. He put Mark in charge of the print ad campaign and from what we saw, never once asked him to justify his decisions. As Chris would later say in the Boardroom, he agreed with Chris and therefore, “his mistake is my mistake.” This is a good quality in a manager in the real world – you shouldn’t sell out your employees just to keep the heat off you, you should take the blame and then go kick their asses if they need it. But The Apprentice is not the real world (that’s a totally different show on MTV – sorry, bad joke), and in the Boardroom you sometimes have to sell out your coworkers if you want to advance.
Indeed, Chris tried to sell out Markus – and, frankly, he probably deserved it. Unfortunately, Chris did a very poor job of explaining why he was trying to get rid of Markus. He tried to explain that he had to babysit Markus, but all that came out was an admittance of “marginalizing” him. Well, yeah, he did marginalize Markus – but that’s what Markus needed! How else do you handle a guy who is specifically told by the Project Manager not to bring something up in front of the client, and then who does exactly that? If he worked for me (again, in the real world), there would have been a serious ass-whoopin’ after that meeting was over!
Poor leadership was not the reason Chris lost, but a poor explanation of why he did certain things as the leader may have contributed.
The second rule advises contestants to stay cool under fire. From what we saw, Chris had no problem here during the task. When things weren’t going his way (for example, the aforementioned issues with Markus), he dealt with them. In the Boardroom, Chris didn’t exactly collapse under pressure either. However, as I just discussed, he did get a bit flustered and unable to fully explain his reasoning for how he treated Markus.
Third is to have a backbone. This didn’t really come into play during the task, as Chris wasn’t fighting against his team – just one member. In the Boardroom, Chris definitely showed that he had a backbone by standing up for who he believed should go in with him. Unfortunately, that was the wrong time to make a stand.
The fourth rule tells players that scheming and plotting doesn’t usually work. Guess what? Chris plotted with Josh (at least – possibly others as well) to take Markus. OK, so it wasn’t much of a surprise, but by making such plans, Chris closed himself off to other, better ideas. We’ll discuss this a couple, but it is important enough that it needs to be said at least twice. Chris tried to get everybody to point the finger at Markus – and almost everybody did. But this isn’t Survivor, so a voting majority doesn’t matter. Trump didn’t buy it.
The fifth rule says to play well with others but to stay professional – and looks at both positive and negative emotions. Chris did well in keeping his negative feelings about Markus mostly hidden during the task. Like I said, if an employee had done to me in a meeting what Markus did to Chris, he’d have faced a seriously angry manager. But Chris kept that in check.
The positive side, however, caused him a problem. In particular, Chris decided that he would not take any of his pals into the Boardroom with him – he would only take Markus. This was in direct contradiction to what Trump & Co. had indicated he should do, and everybody knew it. Carolyn knew the decision was personal. Trump said it was emotional.1 2 Next-->
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