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The Apprentice 5: Why Lee Lostby David Bloomberg -- 06/06/2006
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Lee was the youngest finalist ever on The Apprentice, but his age really hadn’t come into play – until the very end. Was that the reason for his firing, or was there more to it? Why did Lee lose?
Although Lee was the last person fired on this fifth edition of The Apprentice, we still treat him the same way we treated everybody else – by looking back at What ‘Apprentice 5’ Applicants Should Have Learned to see what he did right and where he went wrong. The difference is that having made it this far, we can expect a lot more “right” than usual.
The first and most important rule is to show leadership. There is no doubt that Lee stepped up to try to accomplish the goal of this rule, having been project manager four times and winning three of those times. For that, he is to be commended.
However, there is more to leadership than simply being in charge. This became especially evident in the final challenge. First, Lee’s choice of employees was a rather odd one. One change I like about the recent Apprentice seasons has been that finalists are allowed to pick their own teams, rather than getting somebody lousy forced upon them (like poor Kwame had with Omarosa back in the first season). Can you imagine either Sean or Lee being saddled with the likes of Brent? Anyway, by allowing the finalists to choose, they can’t blame the loss on one of their employees – or if they do, the fact is that they picked that employee!
I think Roxanne was a solid pick. She didn’t like Sean and would work to see him beaten, and she had made it to the final four. But Lenny and Pepi? Lee relied too heavily on Lenny for advice. While some of that advice was good – that Lee wanted people who would be loyal to him – Lee failed to understand that loyalty was not the only important factor.
I do think this was somewhat related to Lee’s age. At this point, he has not exactly had a whole lot of opportunity to lead people and pick a team. To somebody in that position, loyalty might seem to be more important than anything. But the ability to get the job done has to be considered as well.
None of Lee’s picks turned out bad; it’s not like he chose Brent, after all. But they were not stellar, either. We saw Lenny stumble several times in the final task, and none of them really stepped up to help lift the weight from Lee the way some of Sean’s team did for him.
The second rule is to stay cool under fire – and Lee faced a lot of fire in his final challenge, with most of it ironically coming from a charity to help firefighters. Lee was not exactly organized, and the people from the charity let him know… over and over and over again.
But the last challenge is meant to throw the finalists into the deep end of the pool. Each of them had to plan an event that would normally be plotted out over the course of weeks or months – and they only had a few days. Even though Lee had some issues getting up to speed, he did not break down or let the stress get to him. He even made a comment to the camera about how things will go wrong, and you just have to roll with it.
And while the final Boardroom was not exactly the “blood on the walls” affair that others this season have been, Sean did take some shots at Lee. But Lee responded well; he had his answers planned out and was “prepared to fire back,” as the rule specifically advises.
Third is to have a backbone. Throughout the season, Lee has stood up for himself when necessary – whether in tasks or the Boardroom. Indeed, considering the number of times his team lost and he ended up in the Boardroom, he had to stand up for himself in order to make it through. This was not an issue here.
The fourth rule really doesn’t apply to the final firing, but we should look back on the entire season. It says that scheming and plotting usually doesn’t work. And indeed that is true. However, Lee did manage to make himself into enough of a “politician” to avoid getting fired in those many Boardroom trips. He understood how to dodge the bullet, whether by talking to others or just staying out of the way.
He also knew how to play well with others, in accordance with the fifth rule. Even his final opponent really didn’t have much negative to say about Lee. But there was an additional part to this rule that Lee didn’t follow: Stay professional. Lee was so friendly with Lenny that he relied on him too much. First, he let Lenny essentially tell him which candidates to use in the final task, then he let Lenny have too much freedom during that last challenge. Yes, Lee, we know Lenny is your friend. We know he’d throw himself in front of a bus for you. But not everybody who is your friend is also the best person for the job. Lee needed to step back and get some objectivity in that regard.
The sixth rule tells players to focus on the long-term. I think Lee pretty well understood that, as evidenced by the fact that he volunteered to be project manager four times over the course of the game. Lee wanted to show Trump that he could be the next Apprentice.1 2 Next-->
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