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What ‘Apprentice 5’ Applicants Should Have Learnedby David Bloomberg -- 02/27/2006
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The Apprentice does not just look for a winner, like on most reality shows, but for somebody to actually get a job. It is, as Donald Trump is fond of saying, a long job interview. As with any interview, there are some things applicants should know going in.
Regular readers of RealityNewsOnline are familiar with my weekly columns on why people from various shows lost. As we have done for the past seasons, this article will serve as the blueprint for evaluating Apprentice 5 candidates as they are fired – and when one is eventually hired.
The Apprentice is very different from Survivor and Big Brother in an important way: Fellow contestants don’t decide who is going. Sure, one person generally picks the others to take into the Boardroom, and people can point the finger at each other, but only Trump picks who doesn’t return to the suite. That means the rules for succeeding on The Apprentice are quite different from those for succeeding on shows driven by strategy and alliances – which is something that several contestants have learned the hard way.
With four seasons under our belts, plus one involving Martha Stewart, this article has been modified to better reflect what we know about how and why Trump fires (and hires) people. We will also be taking into account some of the lessons learned in Stewart’s version of the show. While she won’t be returning, applicants can still learn from the mistakes made by those who appeared on her series. So what should Apprentice 5 contestants have learned? Let’s take a look.
1) Show Leadership
Trump is looking for an apprentice – but this is not your normal apprenticeship. He is looking for an apprentice who can lead, not follow. That is what makes this the #1 rule to remember.
On several occasions, people have been taken to task because they had not volunteered to be project manager as many times as somebody else who was with them in the Boardroom. By not being project manager, it could look to Trump like you’re trying to hide. Indeed, in the first season Trump told Nick flat-out that he wanted Nick to be the next project manager (which Nick did, and won, thus impressing Trump). In the second series, it seemed almost everybody (save perhaps finalist Jen) understood this and competition for leadership positions was so great that they were forced to pick names at random. In the third series, there was more thought given to it, but in the end, avoidance of the project manager spot was one way of trying to detract from opponents.
Several people on Martha Stewart’s series provide us with further examples of this rule. Leslie was given a pass even though her skills were not up to par, because she had volunteered to lead the perpetually-losing Matchstick team. But Chuck admitted he could not lead, which led to his downfall.
Players need to avoid random draws and push themselves as the best choice for project manager. Doing so will be rewarded – presuming, of course, that they are good leaders.
Sure, the project manager can end up getting more than his or her fair share of blame. After all, only the project manager is guaranteed to go to the Boardroom if the team loses. But the rewards are well worth it. Trump will notice if your team wins when you’re in command – especially if it happens more than once. Look at the Final Two from the second season – Kelly was praised for taking on leadership roles, while one of the strikes against Jen was that she seemed to be shirking that role.
Besides, we know that Trump doesn’t usually fire people based on one bad performance (other than early on when he has nothing else on which to base it) – he keeps a mental tally. You want to add up all the pluses you can to keep you going when you eventually hit a minus.
This could even be the case as early as the very first challenge. In the second series, Pamela volunteered to leave the women and lead the men – and nobody else fought with her for it. Even though her team lost and an argument could have been made that Pamela should have been fired on the spot, Trump gave her another chance, in large part probably because she had stepped up sight unseen into a leadership position. Kristi did something similar in the fourth season. She stepped up to lead, but she blew it big-time. However, she got a pass in part because she volunteered. It also helped that Melissa acted in a way that made her an easy target, but the point still stands.
When you are the project manager, by all means be the manager. Don’t let other strong personalities overwhelm you. Several project managers have been criticized or fired for failing to control those on their team, including Jennifer on Stewart’s version of the show, who couldn’t deal with Jim.
Show your strengths. 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! In Season 1, Kwame showed leadership in the art challenge when he picked Meghan, the weird artist. Yes, it cost them the challenge, but he took a risk that could have paid off. When he got into the Boardroom, he didn’t make excuses or blame somebody else – he explained his reasons and came across as strong and decisive, even though he was wrong. Jeff on Stewart’s version of the show also showed that this can be taken too far, though. Making decisions that will inevitably end up in a loss is not the same thing as taking a risk.
I should note that when you take a risk, it needs to be an intelligent one. Tara in Season 3 failed to understand the point of the PS2/graffiti challenge and led her team to defeat. She was the manager, she took a risk, but she blew it for other reasons.
On the flip side of Tara’s problems we have Elizabeth from the second series, who was a perfect example of how to be a horrible leader for another reason. Her inability to control her team or push her own idea, not to mention constantly changing her mind, almost brought about the first Apprentice mutiny. When she got to the Boardroom, Trump didn’t even bother to ask her who she would bring with her – he fired her without a final session.
What is worse than walking into the Boardroom after having lost? Walking into the Boardroom and saying, “Yes, we lost, but it wasn’t my fault because I had no control over my team,” or making some other similar excuse. Yes, this portion of the rule was here before Elizabeth appeared on Apprentice 2, she simply had not learned it. Nor had Jennifer from Stewart’s show.
Let’s also talk a bit about leadership under different circumstances – when you’re not the project manager. In that situation, Trump will still want to see leadership. You should volunteer for a significant role, step up, take a stand. Don’t just hang back and wait for the project manager to screw up.1 2 3 4 5 6 Next-->
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