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The Apprentice 4 Weekly Performance Review, Episode 11by Brian Towers -- 12/05/2005
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This series of articles primarily focuses on the business actions of each player on The Apprentice. Toward that end, I’ll be giving a capsulated performance review of each applicant.
Ah, a second week of, for the most part, properly executed challenges! They did a good job in the Microsoft Office (pun intended!)
And in a non-performance-related issue, it was nice to see that the weekly “Trump Lesson” referred to the reward instead of giving away the upcoming elimination. Now, on to the reviews!
Excel: Excel did everything right this week. Both members worked well together to produce a clear, effective video. Their advertisement didn’t have much of a “Microsoft feel” to it, but I thought it was almost good enough to be on TV.
Rebecca: There was one point in this week’s project where things may have gone wrong – if they had continued to use that uninspired, unmotivated actor in their video. Seriously, the guy is in the wrong line of work. HE gets an UNACCEPTABLE rating!
Although Rebecca was not the one to initially realize this, she quickly saw the truth of the situation and was able to pull the trigger to effect the necessary changes.
Rebecca has a flirtation with paranoia when she interpreted Carolyn’s “time spent” question in a very defensive way. However, that’s minor and Rebecca’s ranking is EXCELLENT.
Randal: Randal was the one to realize during the filming of the video that their timeframe was in jeopardy, pull Rebecca aside and convince her to make the necessary replacement. He saved the task.
When Rebecca started to get “itchy” about Carolyn’s question, he correctly minimized it to calm Rebecca down.
Randal easily earns an EXCELLENT rating this week, and if I used something higher, I’d probably pull it out here.
Capital Edge: Capital Edge started out in great shape, they designed essentially the same solution as Excel. However, their design was flawed because they didn’t anticipate the duration of their solution.
When they found this out after spending so much time and effort creating it, it seemed a foregone conclusion that they were going to lose. The design of the video was alleged to be a mutual creation, so both are at fault.
I actually timed the presentations as we saw them. They were both 45 seconds long, not 60 like Trump indicated when he assigned the task. I have no explanation for that.
I’d break the product into three sections - first a worker is stressed, show the product, then quickly close out with a happy worker. I’d break the time period down (say, 20-20-5 seconds) and use those boundaries to get a final product. I’d devote a couple of seconds in the middle piece to showing logos. I have no idea how Capital Edge’s initial plan might have played out, but both teams ended up pretty close to that formula.
As aside – did you notice that the cab they shared had an advertisement on top for “Yahoo Hot Jobs?” Heh.
Alla: Alla started out well this week. Although she offered to be PM, she correctly let Felisha take her turn.
Alla was aware that Felisha felt the need to shine this week. However, Alla needed to play her own best game –and she correctly did – for as we saw, no one is ever completely safe in this game. Alla is not there to help the weaker Felisha win The Apprentice!
When Felisha showed so much concern about having Alla direct her, Alla offered to change tasks. Good move, that put it back on Felisha that she was being irrational and didn’t even know what she wanted. From what I could tell, Alla did a good job of directing the shoot. There were no bad shots in their final product (just bad design).
So far, so good for Alla. But when their planned video turned out to be overlong, Alla came up with the text-intense solution for the middle section that was confusingly uninformative. Although we aren’t sure what “Plan A” looked like, the female executive’s body language gave them all the feedback necessary about the video they did produce!
I think that was the wrong “Plan B.” They should have believed in their approach, assembled a rough cut of their work, and then performed major surgery to pare it down to size. I suspect they’d have ended up in a similar place with less effort. Where they needed to focus was the clarity of their core message and not the framing piece.
Alla’s second shortcoming this week was in the boardroom. It seemed to me like her hunger for the job took a hold of her and she over-sold her position. In her cameos beforehand, she said, “I’ll destroy her.” That indicated she was going into the boardroom in attack mode. Is this the same person she gave such a big hug to at the start of the episode? It just wasn’t necessary.
Had Alla merely argued that both of them were equally responsible for this week’s failure (which is true) and fallen back on previous records, Felisha had the inferior reputation and she alone ought to have been fired. It’s one thing to be tough and another to steamroll a beaten opponent.
Instead, the boardroom featured Alla contradicting herself about Felisha either not being a leader, or over-controlling her. Besides being inconsistent, she was incorrect in some of her facts. No decent business points were clearly established and it degenerated into who can work with whom and “I said – you said.”
Because of the bad “Plan B” and boardroom events I’m assigning her a rating of NEEDS IMPROVEMENT, but no lower. I thought Trump was looking for effective leaders, not effective followers, and while this was by far her weakest performance of all, I do not think Alla should have been fired.
Felisha: Felisha didn’t have the best of weeks either. First off, she became emotional at least three times – one shortly after returning from the boardroom, when dining with Alla and once at the end of the boardroom. As Martha Stewart would say, “Women in business do not cry!” Alla already thought Felisha was weak, this brought out her fangs for the kill.
I was very surprised that there was ANY discussion about who would be the Project Manager – it was Felisha’s turn, Alla did it last week. How could she ever have defended her position if she had dodged the PM role at this critical stage?
Felisha displayed traits of insecurity and indecisiveness when she assigned tasks to Alla and then couldn’t yield the necessary authority. Felisha showed Alla that she wasn’t trusted, hardly conducive to good teamwork.
Even the head of the film crew knew there has to be a single chief in a filming situation, and it can’t be a person in front of the camera. Here are a couple of suggestions.
Although hiring an actor didn’t work for Excel, it might have helped here since Felisha saw the actress role as undesirably diminutive to the director role. Failing that, Felisha should have let Alla direct as a Felisha-assigned task and then resumed control at the editing phase.
For the second week running, Felisha was terrible in the boardroom. She didn’t appear ready to defend herself and it was naďve for her to expect that her pleas the night before to “play nice” would be heeded.
In summary, Felisha made the more important mistakes – she exhibited authority and trust issues, led a failing effort, and got steamrolled in the boardroom. Neither player had a good track record, both being four for ten, but had an extra loss as the PM. And, she cried.
Felisha alone ought to have been fired this week. She unraveled. Felisha earns an UNACCEPTABLE rating. Trump was right; she really doesn’t have the killer instincts required to work in NYC. It might make her a better person, but not a better Apprentice.
In Conclusion: Well, those are the performance reviews for this week. I assume there’s no “executive interviews” next week, but I don’t really know. So I guess the next couple of weeks are about the final task.
What do you think? Can Rebecca pull off a victory, or is Randal on cruise control? What’s your favorite pun? Let me know at the eAddress below!
Brian lives in Toronto, where he can be reached at email@example.com. He spent a couple of decades working in middle management at The Prudential, primarily hiding behind the coffee machine to avoid his pointy-haired bosses. He’d like to hear your opinions and promises to respond to all serious email!
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