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The Apprentice 5: Why Sean Wonby David Bloomberg -- 06/07/2006
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Sean was a rare Apprentice candidate who was not only good at what he did but fun to watch as well. That being said, Trump didn’t hire him because of his fist-pumping fits of frustration, or for calling people “wankers.” There were plenty of other good reasons for Sean to hear, “You’re hired!” Why did Sean win?
Throughout this weeks-long job interview process, as Donald Trump calls it, we have looked at each person who was fired using What ‘Apprentice 5’ Applicants Should Have Learned to see where they went wrong. Now it’s time to take one more look at that document, instead looking to see why Sean was hired.
First and foremost we have the rule telling applicants to show leadership. At first glance, Sean would appear to have been at a disadvantage to Lee in this regard, given that Sean was project manager only half as many times as Lee was. However, as noted in Why Lee Lost, there is more to leadership than just being labeled as the person in charge. You have to show that you’re in charge and, indeed, be in control of what’s going on.
The first way Sean showed he knew how to do this in the final challenge was when he picked his team. Again, as I noted in “Why Lee Lost,” I like the way finalists were able to choose from the entire cast for the final project. And Sean did a very good job in those choices. Tammy was obviously a choice from the heart, but she also had been in the final five and had showed she had ability. For all the Mensa-related ribbing he took, Tarek did seem to be a pretty bright guy and he wanted Sean to win. And as many bad things as we had to say about Andrea, she also had some abilities – and she was on Sean’s side as well, since he had been the only person to stick up for her against the Allie/Roxanne attack.
Contrast these three with the three picked by Lee – well, two of the three anyway. Lenny and Pepi? Sean might very well have locked up the win the night he and Lee picked their teams. As was noted in the finale, Sean surrounded himself with the best people.
But that wasn’t the only way he showed leadership. Even though Sean delegated some of the important tasks and meetings, there was never any doubt that he had his finger on the pulse of what was going on. When he met with people, he had a much better way of dealing with them and making them feel comfortable. People from the charity were not calling repeatedly, insisting on knowing every detail, because they felt at ease with Sean.
Several times in the finale, the topic of leadership came up. While Carolyn complimented Lee on his creativity, Sean was complimented on his leadership. And while Charmaine might not be the most reputable source on good leadership, even she noted that Sean outdid Lee in this regard.
Part of Sean’s aura of leadership was his ability to stay cool under fire, thus following the second rule. His task certainly had any many potential problems as Lee’s, but he just didn’t get fazed by them. Similarly, he didn’t allow himself to get upset – either at teammates or events – during previous challenges. Instead, he would bottle it up and give us the hysterical one-on-one moments with the camera. And in one particularly memorable moment when Roxanne and Allie were blasting him for daring to side against them in the Boardroom, he simply put in earplugs and went to sleep.
Yet even while he was allowing problems to roll off of him, he still stood up for what he thought was right, in accordance with the third rule. Indeed, a good case in point was his refusal to just roll over for Allie and Roxanne when they wanted to blame Andrea for everything. I believe this incident helped his cause when it came to the final choice, because Trump saw that Sean was not the “politician” that Lee was. Sean knew his decision might come back to haunt him, but he didn’t care. He knew what he believed, and he stood by it. It occurs to me that it would be interesting to see Sean substitute for George in an upcoming series – I wonder if he would similarly stand up for his beliefs as to who should be fired rather than being the yes-man/woman for Trump as we always see from George/Carolyn/Bill/Don/Ivanka/etc. after Trump sends somebody packing.
The fourth rule advises players that scheming and plotting don’t usually work. As we just discussed, Sean didn’t participate in the planning for Boardroom assassinations the way Allie and Roxanne did, and that worked to his advantage. He was not simply playing a game, but indeed was applying for a job.
Sean also probably followed the fifth rule better than anybody else – at least the part about playing well with others. The only enemies I think he made his entire time there were Allie and Roxanne, and, well, that’s certainly nothing to be ashamed of.1 2 Next-->
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