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The Apprentice 4: Why Jennifer M. Lostby David Bloomberg -- 11/1/2005
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While I have already made clear that Josh most deserved to be fired, there are definitely good arguments to support Jennifer’s firing as well. Indeed, I fully expected it to be a double-firing (though not quadruple, as it turned out). What did Jennifer do so wrong that could stand out even with Josh’s incompetence? Why did Jennifer lose?
An episode like this one really needs an examination of the facts. We get to that point easily by looking back at What ‘Apprentice 4’ and ‘Martha Stewart Apprentice’ Applicants Should Have Learned. Soon enough, we’ll find out why Jennifer deserved what she got.
The first rule Jennifer should have been following was to show leadership. The week prior, she was the project manager and screwed up the task. As I noted last week in Why Kristi Lost, “let’s face it, Jennifer did not exactly do a great job here, to say the least. She had problems with Kristi, she didn’t really think about how the float would look until it was done, she decided at the last minute to take half the team shopping rather than staying to make sure the float was done, and she did a horrible job leading the presentation.” It’s as if I was writing “Why Jennifer Lost” a week early.
And in some ways, I was. Trump noted in the final Boardroom that Jennifer had been told she was hanging by a thread the week before and she really needed to show that she deserved to stick around. She didn’t.
The prior week, I thought Jennifer should have been sent home instead of Kristi. She admitted she couldn’t manage Kristi, which often (maybe even “usually”) gets people fired by Trump. Plus, Kristi was just the latest in a string of women this season who were supposedly so hard to work with, according to their teammates.
Trump gave her another chance, but there is no doubt that he kept all her failures in the back of his mind.
In the Dick’s challenge, Jennifer had the opportunity to stand out as a leader even when she was not the project manager. She talked about what a sales goddess she was, and she was given primary responsibility for sales in this was a sales-based task. In the Boardroom, Jennifer claimed that it was all Josh’s fault because the concept of the task changed, pushing the merchandise aside and that he never gave her any direction. While all of this is true and contributed to the reasons why Josh was deservedly fired, it doesn’t excuse Jennifer.
Part of the first rule specifically notes that those not in the project manager role should “step up, take a stand. Don’t just hang back and wait for the Project Manager to screw up.” But the only time we saw Jennifer stepping up was to hawk hot dogs.
How did Jennifer do in the second rule, staying cool under fire? During the task, she seemed okay, but I wouldn’t exactly say she was “under fire.” It wasn’t like she had so much pressure to sell that she just collapsed. Quite the contrary – there was virtually no pressure, which was part of the problem.
But in the Boardroom, Jennifer just barely held it together. The previous week, when she was debating Kristi, it seemed Jennifer was just on the edge of tears – she never broke and they never came through, but it looked like they were due any second. Then, in this Boardroom, recapper Betsy Wasser described it best when she said Jennifer was “increasingly hysterical” as the questions and accusations flew. “Cool” was not a word that could have been used to describe her.
The third rule says to have a backbone. Jennifer had a backbone whenever it came time to defend herself, but I have to wonder where that backbone was beforehand? She did stand up to Kristi the previous week, but she was also the project manager then. When Josh was project manager, did Jennifer actually tell him how she felt about the problems? She claimed she did when they got to the Boardroom, but we never saw it and Josh called her an outright liar – and nobody jumped to her defense.
Based on that and the overall behavior we did see from her during the challenge, I think we can pretty safely conclude that she did not tell Josh about the problems she saw. She probably figured she could just use them against him later – thus, it was really a plan to lose rather than looking for a way to win.
The fourth rule reminds players that scheming and plotting generally don’t work. Jennifer had been part of a pseudo alliance earlier in the game and helped eliminate Toral. But really, Toral eliminated herself. On her new team, Jennifer didn’t seem to have any allies, so plotting wouldn’t have done her any good anyway.
Fifth is to play well with others. Jennifer has had some problems along the way. Certainly, Rebecca is no fan of hers, and Jennifer helped target at least Toral and Kristi earlier more because of personal reasons than business ones. There’s a reason Jennifer was sent over in the swap as one of the three worst – and she was sent by her former ally Alla!1 2 Next-->
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