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The Apprentice 5: Why Dan Lostby David Bloomberg -- 03/28/2006
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This week’s firing could have gone one of two ways: Dan or Tarek. Trump, however, seemed to think it should have been Lenny. Was that really enough of a reason to fire Dan instead of perpetual screw-up Tarek? Was there something more? Was Trump right or wrong? Why did Dan lose?
Usually in this column, I don’t question whether Trump was correct in who he fired, we just go through What ‘Apprentice 5’ Applicants Should Have Learned to see why it happened. In this case, though, I think Trump had at least one bad reason for firing Dan – though we will soon see that there were plenty of good ones.
The first rule gives us the first good reason to fire Dan – he failed to show very good leadership. Early in the task, Dan was running around like a chicken with his head cut off. Yes, they only had three hours. Fine. Then take a few minutes to make sure everything is laid out right and go from there – don’t just start randomly throwing around orders without time to think. That kind of “leadership” just makes people shake their heads in dismay.
Another good idea might have been to perhaps actually use the people on the team instead of just taking over everything himself. Dan had Leslie, whose background is in broadcast journalism. Yet from what we saw, he assigned her… nothing. We didn’t actually see her step up and tell him she wanted to do more, but we did see several people back her up when she talked about it in the Boardroom and Dan denied it. I think she came off as the winner of that debating point. Also, she wasn’t the only one underutilized. When there is minimal time, it is more important that everybody should be doing something productive. As another example, if Dan felt all Lee did was talk to Bill and Carolyn, perhaps he should have assigned something to Lee.
If we look up two paragraphs, we can already see that Dan also messed up the second rule, staying cool under fire. Running around like a chicken with its head cut off is not cool. ‘Nuff said.
The third rule says to have a backbone. Dan had a backbone, but not at the right time. He initially didn’t seem thrilled with Lenny’s idea, but decided to go with it when everybody else appeared to like it. Then, when Lenny told Tarek his idea of not using a voiceover sucked and Tarek got mad, Dan essentially just gave in to what Tarek wanted.
The only real time we saw Dan use his spine was when Trump suggested he bring Lenny into the final Boardroom and then chastised him for not doing so. Dan stuck up for Lenny, saying it may have been Lenny’s idea but the group agreed on it, so Lenny didn’t deserve to be there. Frankly, Dan was 100% correct, but that was not really the right time to suddenly grow a backbone (we’ll discuss that more in the tenth rule).
It’s unclear just how well Dan did on the fourth rule, which says scheming and plotting don’t usually work. On the one hand, Tarek told Dan he’d have his back. On the other hand, Tarek told Dan he had no friends in the Boardroom. On the third hand, Dan said he wasn’t going to bring Lenny into the final Boardroom in part because Lenny and Lee would gang up on him. On the fourth hand, he later said that wasn’t the reason. Let’s give this one a big question mark and move on, because there are plenty of other reasons anyway.
The fifth rule tells contestants to play well with others. There were certainly issues related to this over at the other team (hello, Andrea), but Dan seemed to get along fine with people. If Tarek had been fired, as I expected (I was already writing “Why Tarek Lost” in my mind), it would have been an issue. But here, not really.
What about the sixth rule, focusing on the long-term. Well, Dan gets a mixed review here. During the task itself, he needed to worry less about the specific success of this particular task and more about himself as a leader and how he would appear to Trump & Co. He was so focused on the task that, as already discussed, he went a bit helter-skelter. Trump wants somebody who, in the long-term, can deal with pressure. Dan didn’t show that.1 2 Next-->
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