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The Apprentice: Los Angeles – Why Aaron Lostby David Bloomberg -- 02/13/2007
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Aaron was a successful project manager two weeks in a row. But then he crashed and burned. Still, doesn’t having a good track record usually count for something in the Boardroom? So why did Aaron lose?
Aaron’s case is a perfect one for this column (although I would argue that all cases are perfect for this column!), because it’s not immediately clear why he was fired. That is to say, there appears to be a good reason, but it would also seemingly be contradicted by his previously-winning ways. So let’s take a tour through What ‘The Apprentice: Los Angeles’ Applicants Should Have Learned to get to the heart of the matter.
The first rule is where we quickly run into the contradiction that is Aaron. It says contestants need to show leadership. It also says if you do this well, future problems will likely be overlooked. So where did Aaron go wrong?
In the first task when Aaron was project manager, he only had to oversee two people. He did at least volunteer to lead, which put him ahead of everybody else on his team, but it wasn’t exactly managing a large group of people on a complicated task.
In addition, he was up against Michelle as the other project manager. She was so bad that Don Jr. said, in a segment that was aired in the Extras, “For Aaron’s team to lose, the bus would basically have to explode. People would have to be running out on fire.” Indeed, she was so bad that she quit, thus earning herself a spot in the Reality TV Hall of Shame.
And to top it off, we didn’t really see Aaron doing a whole lot to lead his team. James came up with the tour concept; James came up with bringing the Laker girlsp; James took another bus tour to come up with things they should and shouldn’t do; James did the beginning of the tour until Stefani rescued the team by stepping in. Aaron did… what, exactly? Well, in the Boardroom, James said Aaron listened well. Sure he did, because he didn’t appear to have anything to say!
What about the second task he led, in Episode 4? Well, Stefani created the product and named it (which was a big issue, as we saw Kinetic go down in flames in part because their name didn’t describe what was in the product). Aaron did order balloons and signs. Woo! Also, Frank and Tim went out for bulk orders; it’s not entirely clear whose idea that was, but Aaron allowed them to stay out rather than pulling them back in. He considered that a bold move – I consider it simply a basic thing to do on The Apprentice.
In short, neither of Aaron’s two previous wins were exactly triumphs of management strategy. He did not show leadership – he simply didn’t lose for them. It’s similar to what people were saying about Bears quarterback Rex Grossman in the playoffs and Super Bowl – if he just managed the game and didn’t screw up, they’d be okay. For the Bears, it worked right up to the big game; for Aaron, it worked for two tasks.
Even in his third task as project manager, it’s not like Aimee was a real go-getter who crushed him. Indeed, her own teammates weren’t exactly calling her “honey” (sorry). But still they managed to rally and overcome Aaron and Arrow.
We didn’t get to see the footage telling us who was telling the truth in the Boardroom. Did Aaron assign Surya to be in charge of marketing? We didn’t see it, but that doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Then again, Surya was so emphatic about it, continuing even after Aaron was fired and getting emotional about Aaron’s alleged lie, that I tend to believe him.
So if we go to that, it means Aaron didn’t delegate marketing. He didn’t take a role in sales, going so far as to try to avoid it. And Nicole noted that he didn’t plan well. While James claimed Aaron had a laid-back management style, I would call it a non-management style.
OK, let’s leave the first rule for now and move to the second. It says to stay cool under fire. Well, Aaron was certainly cool during the challenges – a bit too cool, as we’ve already discussed how laid-back he was. I think he stayed pretty cool in the Boardroom as well – I’d say he was just right there.
But what about the third rule, having a backbone? That was certainly one thing Trump complained about – that Aaron didn’t provide any opinions or, indeed, even really say anything when he sat on Trump’s side of the table after the previous task. While I understand that Aaron might have been hesitant, he had been in the Boardroom twice when Heidi sat in that chair, so he knew what to expect. His excuse about not being told what to do simply doesn’t stand up.
We didn’t see much preparation for the Boardroom, but we did see Aaron talking about wanting to take Surya. I think this was a bit of scheming on his part because Surya was the new guy, and it was likely easier to get the rest of Arrow behind the idea. Surya did some counterplotting of his own by enlisting the aid of Aimee. But in general, I think Aaron found out that the fourth rule is true, and scheming and plotting don’t usually work. Yes, Aimee was helpful to Surya in pointing out some of his better points, but she wasn’t the only one supporting him, as both Tim and Nicole suggested that Aaron should have been fired.1 2 Next-->
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