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The Apprentice 5: Why Brent Lostby David Bloomberg -- 03/27/2006
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It was only a matter of time before Brent was fired. It was obvious from the very beginning that he was always destined to be “the obnoxious jerk” rather than “the apprentice.” But did he actually do anything to cause his team to lose this challenge? If not, why was he singled out? Why did Brent lose?
The answer, my friends, is not blowing in the wind. Instead, it’s easily found within the pages of What ‘Apprentice 5’ Applicants Should Have Learned. Let’s see what we can dig up.
The first rule tells applicants to show leadership. As far as we saw, Brent did not volunteer to be project manager. The rest of his team certainly did not nominate him, either – though perhaps they should have so he could have shown them if he was as great as he claimed to be. But that’s neither here nor there since he ended up getting fired anyway.
OK, so obviously not everybody can be the project manager. Fine. The first rule recognizes this and tells players to take on leadership roles in other areas. Once again, though, Brent failed. It’s not that he didn’t try – for example, he wanted to lead the presentation to the Post folks. However, Brent had gotten himself into a situation where none of his teammates trusted him with any sort of leadership. Frankly, I’m surprised they even told him he could choose the clothes for those who would be doing the presentation instead of him (and I suspect if he did give any advice, they probably ignored it anyway).
So, was it Brent’s fault that he wasn’t able to take a leadership role? Yes. But the reason behind it is explained below, in the fifth rule.
The second rule tells players to stay cool under fire. Brent, however, seemed to be perpetually hot-blooded. At first it seemed he might have reason to be, as he was often ignored by the others. But soon it became obvious that this was simply the way he was – and it may have contributed to the very problems he was upset about!
Brent insulted people repeatedly in the confessional segments of the show. That’s fine, since they are private at the time. But he allowed those insults to creep into public as well. And more importantly, he allowed himself to behave that way in front of Trump & Co., in the Boardroom. Trump isn’t known as Mr. Nice Guy, but he doesn’t need somebody working for him who will go off at the slightest provocation and start yelling, either.
Brent did fine in the third rule, having a backbone. No matter how many times people ignored him, he continued to try to put forth ideas. But no matter how many times he tried to put forth ideas, people ignored him. It was a vicious circle for him.
The fourth rule says scheming and plotting don’t usually work. Amusingly, Brent went into his final Boardroom not as the target. They had schemed against him before and it had failed (just as the rule says). This time, they could not blame the loss on him and didn’t seem to even try. But Brent was sure he would be the target and that he would blow the others out of the water, so he planned on his own to take them down. That little idea didn’t work out so well.
The fifth rule is where Brent really had his problems. It says to play well with others. Brent just… didn’t. Early on, I felt bad for him and thought others were unfairly picking on him. But the more we saw of Brent, the more I agreed with his teammates. Sometimes, people will gang up on another person for no good reason. But Brent gave them plenty of good reasons, with his attitude, his ego, and the way he rubbed people the wrong way.
And what does the rule say will happen in such situations? “[Y]our fellow contestants might not be the ones who will vote you off, but they can certainly make life miserable for you. And if it continues, … your fellow players will repeatedly point it out to Trump as a reason you should go.” It continues, “Trump doesn’t need somebody who will cause tension and problems in the ranks.” Brent pretty much defined “somebody who will cause tension and problems in the ranks.”
Part of the problem is that Brent was not focusing on the long-term. He wanted his teammates to recognize his brilliance immediately. He wanted credit for ideas that he thought were his. By trying to focus attention on himself, he lost sight of the fact that he should have been trying to continue moving forward, impressing Trump and not screwing up. But he was so concerned with short-term personal “wins” that he couldn’t see the big picture.
The seventh rule, understanding the challenge, doesn’t come into play here since Brent’s firing really had nothing to do with the challenge itself. Other members of his team failed to understand the best way to handle this challenge, and Brent paid the price.
Eighth is to be creative, but not insane. I’m not sure we saw Brent being particularly creative – suggesting “free massage” as the answer to every publicity stunt isn’t exactly the type of thing we’re talking about. But we did see him acting insane. ‘Nuff said, I think.
The ninth rule says players cannot be one-dimensional. Did Brent have any dimensions other than “obnoxious” and “egotistical”? If so, they sure didn’t shine very brightly.
Finally, we get to the killer rule for Brent, using common sense. Brent went into the Boardroom with the preconceived notion that everybody would attack him. OK, maybe it seemed like a good likelihood, from his somewhat paranoid point of view, but he needed to wait until it happened and then defend himself. Instead, nobody really said anything about Brent in the Boardroom… until he went on the attack.
Once he opened that door, the others struck back with such vehemence that Trump didn’t even bother to go through the motions of having a second Boardroom session – he fired him on the spot. Ivanka noted that Brent brought it on himself by attacking Tammy. Time to look back up to the fifth rule again!
The rule specifically notes that players need to pay attention to what Trump is saying and follow his lead. Maybe Brent thought Trump was looking to fire Tammy, and that’s why he went after her in strong terms when asked. But he misinterpreted the situation. He needed to sit there quietly and let the others fight it out. He had done nothing wrong – because they had not allowed him to do anything – so he should have kept his mouth shut. That is what common sense should have dictated. But that’s obviously not what Brent did.
What we saw of Brent leads me to believe he can’t keep his mouth shut. If he has something to say, he says it. That may be admirable in some situations, but not when much of what he has to say is insulting. Furthermore, he seems to have forgotten that he was in a competition, where his eyes should have been on the prize rather than on one particular niggling issue that he wanted to argue about.
More importantly, though, Brent couldn’t keep his mouth shut in the Boardroom. Although he was not targeted, it seemed he went in assuming he would be and let loose when he was given the opportunity. It is said that the best defense is a good offense, but in this case the best defense would have been shutting the hell up. His attempt at a good offense just turned out to be offensive and stupid. That is why Brent lost.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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