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The Apprentice 4: Why Mark Lostby David Bloomberg -- 11/03/2005
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In the past three days, we have discussed why Josh lost and why Jennifer lost and why James lost. Mark was the least responsible for the loss, and under normal circumstances would not have been fired. Still, he made mistakes and there were reasons for his firing. Why did Mark lose?
Whether we believe Mark should have been sent back to the suite cannot play a role here. So let’s (mostly) put those feelings aside and take our usual look back at What ‘Apprentice 4’ and ‘Martha Stewart Apprentice’ Applicants Should Have Learned to answer our all-important questions.
The first rule, of course, is to show leadership. As with James, Mark had not put himself into position to be project manager yet, and thus had not shown Trump how he would lead. I know there were only five opportunities so far and not everybody can lead, but people need to understand just how important it is and do their best to obtain that position!
But there are other ways to lead without being project manager. Unfortunately, in the Dick’s Sporting Goods task, especially, Mark chose not to do that either. He was given a task, and he did that task well. But the task at hand was plunking balls into the pitching machine – not exactly the kind of thing that screams out, “I can lead your company, Mr. Trump!”
Mark should have attempted to do something else that showed he could be a leader. But he didn’t. We’ll get back to the topic of what else he could have done in a little while.
In the meantime, let’s look at the second rule, staying cool under fire. In this particular task, Mark was not exactly under a huge amount of pressure. In the Boardroom, however, he did have to field some hard-hitting questions – they weren’t just softballs – and he managed to do so calmly. In this particular case, it didn’t really matter, but we should at least give him his due.
Third is to have a backbone. This is where we start to get into what else Mark should have been doing besides plunking baseballs. Normally this rule deals with what happens when people don’t like a contestant’s ideas and they need to stand up for themselves. In Mark’s case, though, he needed to stand up and say, “I can do more in this challenge than man the ball machine!” The rule notes, “if you think you are the best at doing something, you should try to do it.” OK, so maybe Mark thought he was the best at operating the ball machine, but really, anybody could have done that. There is still more to be said about this, but we’ll wait a few more paragraphs.
The fourth rule says that scheming and plotting usually doesn’t work. While it wasn’t really Mark’s idea to plot, he and Josh had a discussion about who should go. Mark advised Josh not to solely focus on Jennifer, but Josh was not to be swayed. He told Mark he was safe – he obviously didn’t envision Trump doing what he did. But that just goes to show that players can make all the plans they want, but the best laid plans of Apprentice candidates quickly go astray when The Donald is involved.
Mark did fine as far as the fifth rule, playing well with others, is concerned. But the sixth rule was a problem. As already discussed, manning the ball machine is not showing Trump any particular skills – thus, Mark was not thinking for the long-term. He needed to get out and play, not be a bench-warmer.
Really, it mostly came down to the seventh rule, understanding the challenge. It seemed like most of the players on this team failed to grasp the concept that this was a sales task. Since Mark was plunking balls, he didn’t sell at all. In fact, when Bill Rancic asked him how sales were going, Mark didn’t even know. Clue time!
That said, I still do not think Mark should have been fired. He was given a task, and I mostly blame the project manager for failing to make better use of Mark. The fact is that under their plan, somebody needed to man the pitching machine. Basically, it would be like if I assigned one person to write letters and another to file them, but then blamed the person doing the filing because the letters didn’t get written.
If Josh saw that sales were not going well, he should have shifted people around. That is why Josh was most deserving of getting fired and why Mark should not have been. Still, we have to remember that this is a competition. Mark should have inquired as to how sales were going and should have volunteered to switch off with people to try to spark more cash register action. I don’t necessarily blame him for doing what he was told, but I would have given him more credit for stepping up and doing more.
With that out of the way, let’s move on. The eighth rule says to be creative. Well, Mark didn’t really show us a whole lot of creativity in this task. OK, none at all. He needed to find a way to push sales even if he was the pitching machine guy – that’s what creativity is all about. But that didn’t happen.
Ninth is to not be one-dimensional. Pitching machine guy is definitely one-dimensional as far as this task was concerned. I’m sure he has more to him, but he didn’t give himself the opportunity to show it.
Finally, we arrive at the rule that says to use common sense. We’ve pretty much beaten this dead horse already, but common sense should have told Mark that spending all day behind a pitching machine during a task focused on sales was not the way to impress Donald Trump.
In the end, I still do not believe Mark should have been fired. It was the project manager’s responsibility to make sure his team members were being used in the best manner possible. That said, Mark did not do all he could have – and should have – to stand out. He did not volunteer for more duties, did not show leadership, and did not show that he understood any better than the others that this task was about sales. That is why Mark lost.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our other Apprentice 4 Episode 6 articles:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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