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The Apprentice 5: Why Michael Lostby David Bloomberg -- 05/15/2006
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Michael was saved from being fired several weeks ago by virtue of his team winning in spite of him. This time, it’s not clear that they lost because of him, but he was the one fired. How does this all add up? Why did Michael lose?
Sometimes Trump fires a person who caused a loss. Sometimes he fires a person just because there is no way that person will ever work for Trump. It’s pretty clear that this was not a case of the former, so why was it the latter? Let’s go through Michael’s actions in light of What ‘Apprentice 5’ Applicants Should Have Learned to find out.
The first and most important rule, of course, is to show leadership. Unfortunately, here is where Michael hit the first bump in the road. When he was the project manager on an earlier task, he showed that he is completely incapable of making the simplest decisions. In particular, he hemmed and hawed over the color of a paint. His indecisiveness drove his teammates crazy to the point that they were ready to have Trump fire him even though they won!
Besides his lackluster performance as a project manager, he did not exactly jump to volunteer when he should have. Gold Rush only had three people left, and Lee had just been PM a few days earlier. This would have been the perfect chance to ask to be project manager. But he didn’t. He allowed Lee to take the position, which showed that Lee wanted to be a leader. So even when they lost, Lee had two project manager wins under his belt already to support his case for sticking around.
The second rule instructs players to stay cool under fire. Michael couldn’t even stay cool under cool conditions – as we already described in choosing a color! A perfect example this time was the way he dealt with the cheerleading coach. First, he did a good job in securing an exclusivity deal with the cheerleaders. But then the coach asked if she could send some of the squad to the other team. Michael should have just said, “No, I’m sorry, but we can’t do that.” Instead, he caved. That slightest bit of pressure from the coach made him backtrack and decide that maybe it would be okay. Indeed, if Lee and Sean hadn’t yelled at him for being an idiot, I’m sure Michael would have allowed exclusivity to slip through his fingers.
If Michael could not even handle a cheerleading coach asking nicely if they could change their arrangement, how would he handle one of Trump’s companies? What if he had made a deal for the cost of a building and the price of steel went up? If the contractor came to him and asked him to increase the price, would Michael just say, “Well, I want to be fair”? Trump would have him shot! So maybe it’s better that Michael was just fired.
This also leads into the third rule, having a backbone. It’s pretty obvious that if Michael does have a backbone, he hasn’t yet decided what color it is. He couldn’t even come up with decisions, let alone stand by them. He has all the spine of a wet noodle.
The fourth rule tells applicants that scheming and plotting don’t usually work. Michael tried to get Sean to tell him of his plans, but Sean wisely avoided the question. It was pretty obvious by then that Sean and Lee would point the finger at Michael, and I’m not really sure what Michael thought he would gain by talking to Sean, but whatever it was, he failed.
Fifth is to play well with others. This was not really a problem, as all three guys got along. So what about the sixth rule, focusing on the long-term? Well, Michael had a problem there that related to those we already discussed. By attempting to “play fair” rather than playing to win, Michael showed a side of himself that is certainly not what Trump & Co. are looking for. Indeed, even as she recognized that Michael’s actions didn’t cause the team to lose, she was aghast that he was going to give up some cheerleaders and upset that he had no competitive edge. That is simply not the type of person who will be hired as the Apprentice.
The seventh rule reminds players that they need to understand each challenge. All three guys kind of forgot this one here. They created a spectacle, they got lots of people to their tailgate event. But they didn’t convert to enough sales – or at least not enough money.
The goal was not to have customers who were having lots of fun, but to have customers who were spending lots of money. Gold Rush had the right idea of how to bring people to them, but they failed to capitalize on it. Lee was the cause of the low prices, but Michael was part of the problem as well because he was so busy using the microphone to promote the events that he didn’t take time to actually sell. I’m not sure he can be fully blamed for this, since Lee – as project manager – did not appear to ever say anything to Michael. However, Michael should have been smart enough to know that selling was the name of the game.
Eighth is to be creative but not insane. Gold Rush was pretty creative in their ideas to get people to their tailgating party, but Synergy was much more creative in realizing that they didn’t need people to come to them if they went out to the people. Admittedly, Synergy’s idea was somewhat born out of desperation, but it worked! What ideas did Michael have to win? Well, he secured the exclusive deal with the cheerleaders – but then he wanted to give it up. That’s about all we saw…
The ninth rule says applicants cannot be one-dimensional. Trump primarily wants a leader who can think creatively, with other characteristics being good additions. From what we saw, Michael didn’t even have the basics, let alone any other dimensions.
Finally, we arrive at the rule telling players to use common sense. I’m not sure Michael even knows what common sense is. Or if he does, he hasn’t decided yet if it’s a good thing. He has to know that Trump does not like indecisiveness. So why would he act like, to quote Sean, “a wanker” every time he had to make a decision? It just doesn’t make sense – common or otherwise.
While the task was lost because Gold Rush failed to sell as much as Synergy, Michael played a role in that. In the episode, we saw Lee convincing a customer to add to their order, while Sean invited people to come to the party and get food. Michael… ran the eating contest. In the Apprentice Extras, Michael even admitted he should have sold more.
But in the end, selling – or lack thereof – was not the real reason for Michael’s firing. Michael was supposed to be on the show as one applicant trying to get a job, not to sing “kumbaya” with his pals – but he didn’t seem to understand that. He showed an almost complete lack of leadership skills and, as Carolyn noted, any competitive edge. That is why Michael lost.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other recent Apprentice articles:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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