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The Apprentice 5: Why Theresa Lostby David Bloomberg -- 03/27/2006
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Wondering why this article is a week or more late? Check out Why Bloomberg (Was) Lost for all the details.
Theresa became another early project manager who took the fall. Does this indicate that Apprentice contestants shouldn’t volunteer to lead the team early on? Or does it only indicate specific problems with Theresa herself? Why did Theresa lose?
As we’ll discuss in more details shortly, the rules contained in What ‘Apprentice 5’ Applicants Should Have Learned specifically suggest that candidates try to obtain leadership positions. Are we going to have to change that rule because of Theresa?
In a word, no. The first rule does in deed tell players to “show leadership.” That means they should try to become the project manager and demonstrate to Trump & Co. just what they can do. Historically, some players who volunteered early were given free passes in the Boardroom because they at least took a shot. But in other cases, such as Theresa’s, they have been sent packing. What’s the difference?
The difference is that Theresa screwed up. Her leadership, or lack thereof, was a large part of the reason the team failed. It’s one thing to lead a team well and simply have them defeated; it’s quite another to drag them down that path and help cause the loss.
What’s perhaps even worse is that Theresa tried to blame others for her lack of leadership. We have sometimes seen players try to sit back and let other people screw up in hopes of getting ammunition against them in the Boardroom. This particular type of scheme isn’t really a great idea in any case, but especially when you’re the project manager. She needed to show that she had control over her team, not that her team members weren’t doing what they should have – that was her responsibility to fix at the time! Blaming other people in a situation like this is almost guaranteed to make the project manager look bad rather than good.
The second rule says Theresa needed to stay cool under fire. I don’t think this was a particular issue with Theresa, so we’ll move on. The third rule says to have a backbone – again, not a big thing with Theresa. That is to say, she stood up for herself when people (rightfully) pointed fingers at her. Of course, if she had used that same backbone to actually get the job done to begin with, she might not have needed it later.
The fourth rule says that scheming and plotting don’t usually work. Theresa certainly found that out! As I already mentioned, it seemed she was just holding back and waiting for people to screw up rather than trying to get things done the right way.
Fifth is to play well with others. Theresa seemed to do okay here until there was blame to be assigned. Of course, that could be said of many people who end up getting fired.
The sixth rule takes us back once again to something we’ve mentioned twice already. It says to focus on the long-term. Theresa seemed more interested in assigning blame than in looking good, which is poor long-term thinking. Trump is not just interested in firing the worst person, but also in bringing along the best. Simply blaming others is not the way to show him that you are that “best” for the long-term.
Theresa also failed in the seventh rule, understanding the challenge. She was right to try to make her event classy, but as Carolyn noted, she missed the mark. She also screwed up in other areas, such as her failure to ensure that the models they hired could speak knowledgeably on the product. More importantly, she refused to tie everything together with a unifying theme. It’s not clear just what she really wanted, other than the horse and carriage, and that came across in the loss.
The eighth rule tells players to be creative. Theresa, quite simply, wasn’t. A horse and buggy doesn’t equal creativity.
Was Theresa one-dimensional, as the ninth rule warns against? Well, honestly, did she even have one dimension? She might have, but it sure didn’t come across well. And forget about having more than that.
Finally, we arrive at the rule that tells players the obvious: use common sense. One part of this rule specifically advises applicants on how to listen to what Trump is hinting at when it comes to Boardroom picks. Trump wanted Charmaine to go, but Theresa didn’t bring her along. It’s not 100% clear why Trump felt Charmaine was to blame, but Theresa could have put the squeeze on her. Yes, that’s right, Theresa should have squeezed the Charmaine. Sorry, had to say it.
Other common sense failures have already been documented in the other rules, so we don’t need to rehash them.
There were many small reasons that Theresa failed. She didn’t have a unifying theme for the task. She wanted “classy” but ended up with the opposite. Etc. But the main problem was that Theresa thought delegating and then blaming people equaled leadership. She was wrong. That is why Theresa lost.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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