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The Apprentice: Los Angeles, Weekly Performance Review, Episode 4by Brian Towers -- 01/30/2007
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In the fourth episode of The Apprentice: Los Angeles, we finally saw the Arrow team pull out a victory. Of course, what we really saw was a lot of tent life, as less than TEN MINUTES of the planning and execution of actual task was aired! So again, I have rather limited information on which to base evaluations. Although an evaluation of camping skills may be more in order, instead it’s time for “Performance Reviews” of the remaining applicants!
This week’s task involved the creation, promotion, and selling of a new chicken dish for the El Pollo Loco chain. Judging was based on gross sales of the new product, so “creation” was the least important of the three.
To their credit, neither squad seemed take excessive time coming up with a product to offer. But why did every member on both teams need to be involved in this process? Surely some multi-tasking was possible. For example, someone on Arrow could have been getting their balloons, making the ever-present trip to Kinko’s, or learning to work the registers sooner.
With no other hidden tricks, this was a marketing task, pure and simple. Normally, there are three things that would determine the winner in such a task – location, location, and location – but that topic didn’t seem to come up.
I thought it interesting when Kinetic’s project manager, Heidi, described Arrow using phrases she no doubt saw as put-downs. It turned out that these traits won the task for Arrow. I’d have to say that Arrow acted the more “Trump-like” this week.
Probably the best thing Arrow did this week was to change Trump’s opinion of them as losers. Was Michelle’s departure an “addition by subtraction?” We’ll see if the same works for Team Kinetic next week.
It was nice seeing Arrow finally get inside the mansion, and we know they’ll appreciate it a lot more after being in the tents for so long.
Aaron: When Surya was sent to team Arrow, Aaron did well to make sure the team greeted him warmly so he wouldn’t feel like an outsider. Smart move. I see Aaron as a skilled leader who has, through mutual respect, taken charge of this team.
In the task, Aaron did a good job of motivating his team. Heidi was right, this is a more emotional group and they are more likely to respond to a pep talk.
One good move Arrow made was to mount fancy decorations and impressive signage that made customers feel this was a special event. Even if we don’t know who had the idea, Aaron was responsible for approving it.
I reward Adam’s fortitude in taking what he recognized as a big risk by sending off two team members to get bulk sales. Had it failed, he would probably have been sent home. The same result would have been probable if he had listened to Surya and recalled them before the sale was made.
In the Boardroom, Aaron correctly identified the key factors in this project as price and quantity, and Trump liked that. He also identified the significance of finding out who was in charge of sales in the final Boardroom. However, a little later on Aaron was chastised by Trump for not contributing. Since I’m not sure where he could have gotten a word in edgewise, I’m not going to adjust his rating… this time. Aaron gets an EXCELLENT rating! Next week, he needs to increase his Boardroom presence.
Frank: With Tim, Frank secured the bulk order. Enthusiastic throughout, Frank earned a GOOD rating this week.
This was the first episode in which Trump didn’t make a negative comment about Frank. Hey, no one in the game is having more fun than Frank is right now.
James: We saw James working hard and loud, as usual. One time he was roadside, soliciting the business of passing motorists. I’m not sure how much business he drew in, but it had to have helped somewhat. Perhaps he should have donned a chicken suit?
More significant were his convincing efforts at the point-of-sale, so it’s a GOOD rating for James.
Nicole and Stefani: As well at working the cash registers a little later on, the two women primarily created the product to sell. Stefani seemed to have a greater role, but it’s a SATISFACTORY rating for both.
Tim: Tim had the idea to try for bulk sales. Risky, but he was thinking outside of the box and I reward that. Then, with Frank, the sale was closed on the order that won the task for Arrow by such a wide margin.
A little earlier, we also saw Tim being very effective at the sales counter. He gets an EXCELLENT rating.
Surya: I thought it bold that Surya volunteered to change teams, but being chosen to change teams over two others is always a feather in one’s cap in this game and exactly the type of thing Trump notices. In the Boardroom, Trump even gave him credit for influencing the victory when in actual fact, he didn’t.
I was initially worried for Surya, when one of his first activities on arrival in Tent City was to give a “Business 101” lecture. Too much, too soon, and it might have created resentment from the MBAs among the existing Arrow members. One notes that many of the things he mentioned were not actions exhibited by his former team this week.
Surya’s fear that Tim and Frank were misallocated resources led him to request that they be called back. That conservative thinking might have cost them the task, had Aaron agreed too readily. Nonetheless, Surya’s rating is SATISFACTORY.
This episode was a general failure for Kinetic. As Sean commented, their marketing and point-of-sale efforts were weak. Despite being named Kinetic, they just didn’t sell with the same energy as the other team and I thought a sense of urgency was missing.
No one on Kinetic recognized that they had some key marketing information. Derek and Marisa were outside the drive-through, offering free samples to people. Now, we don’t know which contestant put forward that idea, but it ought to have worked. That it didn’t should have indicated that people obviously didn’t care for the taste of the sample much, and possibly they could have modified the mix a little – though it might have been too late for that.
That wasn’t a pretty Boardroom, and I have a feeling that all the hearts and roses and good feelings of the first three episodes are about to be discarded. Members of Kinetic were talking over each other so much, I bet Trump felt he was watching a live episode of The View! Oh come on, you know he watches!
Aimee: I liked it that Aimee volunteered to change teams. That took guts, because the teams are very different in their makeup and she had to know she might not fit in over there.
Aimee insisted in the Boardroom that she mentioned their product twice to 99% of the customers. I got the distinct impression that Trump didn’t buy it, but he didn’t question it either. So, she received a pass on that one.
After being picked to attend the final Boardroom, Aimee was identified as “a great sales person” in the Boardroom by PM Heidi. That mixed message tells me that she ought not to have been pulled in there in the first place. After all, she was one of three who performed the same function with (as we saw it) no perceptible difference in success. However, since she was unlikely to be fired, the experience gained may actually help her in the long run.
For her rating, I must look at what was perceived as a less-than-spectacular result in a sales-oriented task and say she NEEDS IMPROVEMENT.1 2 Next-->
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