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The Apprentice 3, Analysis of a Win: The Finaleby Angela Dalecki -- 05/25/2005
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No one - at least, no one sitting in my living room watching the finale with me - seemed at all surprised when Trump said, “Kendra, you’re hired” at the end of last week’s finale. After flying under the radar for about half the season, Kendra emerged as a force to be reckoned with several weeks ago, and has gotten stronger each week. She’s done such an outstanding job on all of her tasks - especially her final task - that Trump would be showing a “yooge” error in judgment if he didn’t choose her. So why was she such an obvious pick?
I didn’t even know Kendra existed until about six weeks into the season. She was quietly competent, never caused any problems, was never brought into the final boardroom during Magna’s early losses, and wasn’t singled out in interviews for the first few episodes. However, thanks to Trump’s recap of the season, it’s clear that she was an integral part of those early wins. For example, her negotiating skills played a large role in Magna’s win on the beach motel task, and her marketing savvy helped her team when they had to run a mini-golf course. She was successful on her first turn as Project Manager, and spearheaded focus groups on several later projects that were integral to Magna’s eight-week winning streak.
Kendra really began to shine on the Pontiac task. Even if Tana claimed that she was responsible for the shape of the brochure, Kendra did everything else. She chose the pictures, wrote the copy, and, most importantly, stayed up all night to make sure everything got done (while Tana and Craig slept instead). I can’t think of any other contestant that has ever been on this show that would have shown such grace to the other teammates, or pulled together such a great brochure on their own.
Despite personal conflicts with Tana and (especially) Craig, Kendra made sure her team pulled out wins for the next two weeks, as well. Once she made it to the final three, she aced the interviews, erring only on the side of seeming too assertive (but, given the choice between being labeled “too assertive” or “too passive,” “assertive” is clearly the better option). Then, she headed into the final task - overseeing the Best Buy Video Game Tournament - with her team of Danny, Michael, and Erin.
While Tana was running around misplacing flags and ignoring the governor, Kendra was working hard trying to please the sponsors of the tournament. Her project came off without a hitch. I’ve had some readers mention that she may have had the easier task, but I don’t agree. While a video game tournament is a much smaller event than the NYC2012 Athlete Challenge, Kendra had only her team to help her. Tana had at least two other event planners to work with, as well as a team of volunteers. (And this is just speculation, but I have a feeling that since an event related to the NYC Olympic bid is too important to mess up, there were plenty of people on hand to make sure the event went off as smoothly as possible - no matter what Tana did.) So while Kendra may have had a smaller event, Tana had many more resources at her disposal.
What’s more important than the event itself is the way Kendra handled her team. She definitely could have had her share of problems - Danny was a huge distraction, Michael had been absolutely useless before he was fired, and Erin and Kendra hadn’t been on speaking terms after Kendra traded Erin to Net Worth. But Kendra was able to pull her team together, and got them to work harder for her than they had when they were still vying for the title of The Apprentice. As Erin said in the finale, they were treated as “valued employees.” Compare that to all of the nasty things Tana said about her team. And in the end, that was Trump’s biggest reason for hiring Kendra - because she valued her employees.
Kendra is one of the strongest contenders to ever be on this show. She’s smart, business-savvy, has great people skills, and is an extremely competent leader. And - even though she was criticized for it - she knew how to play the game. Even when she was flying under the radar, she always worked hard. But she waited to emerge as an obviously strong candidate until we were well into the season, which was an incredibly smart move. I have a feeling she’ll do a great job working for Trump.
So long, and thanks for all the fish - we’ll see you next season.
Angela Dalecki is a part-time freelance writer based in Wilmington, DE. Her work can also be seen a tNights & Weekends and Suite 101. She pays her bills by working at TV Guide. You can email Angela at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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