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The Apprentice 5 Weekly Performance Review, Episode 4by Brian Towers -- 03/22/2006
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This series of articles about The Apprentice will focus on the business actions of each player. Toward that end, I’ll be giving a capsulated “Performance Review” on each applicant each week. Warning, a few comments on game play just might sneak in there, too!
The task this week was to design an effective billboard to advertise Post’s new product, “Post Grape Nuts Trail Mix Crunch Cereal.” Post is actually owned by Kraft Foods, but let’s not complicate things, the product name already has seven words in it!
According to the Internet the product seems to be available now, but I checked the day after the show aired and it’s not in my local food store yet.
The keys to this task are obviously to come up with a short, effective slogan on a background that’s eye catching without being distracting. Charmaine’s use of the phrase “less is more” was quite warranted.
Gold Rush: Just when it seemed Gold Rush was falling completely apart, they pulled it together this week.
In my opinion, their ad wasn’t the greatest. I thought the yellow-on-pale-blue color scheme for the wording was a poor choice. For me, the theme doesn’t have this “shock value” they seemed to be feeling. Nor should it, this is cereal. What they did get right was they knew the importance of limiting verbiage (four words, including the critical one, “new”) and that was a key difference.
Dan, Lee, and Lenny were all were active in the brainstorming session, but were not involved in other acts I can comment on, so they get NO RATING.
Bryce: Bryce came up with the winning idea, a gal chugging a box of dry cereal. I have one important problem here… it will be hard to read the product name because the product is angled upside down! But outside of that, it was a pretty decent concept.
When Bryce later got the idea of showing the multiple boxes of product instead of using a human model, that was a good time to leave an opinion unvoiced. There was no time to implement a change in approach, so why was he even wasting brain cells going in that direction? Bryce admitted the reason in his confessional – he was covering himself in case they lost.
Well, many times a project won’t work out like it’s expected to, and one needs to exhibit the courage of their original convictions and stay behind the existing plan and not bail on their team. This exhibited very poor team skills.
I’m going to assume it was a combination of exhaustion and panic, but those urges need to be suppressed and this bears monitoring. Torn between SATISFACTORY and NEEDS IMPROVEMENT, I’m going to put team skills over originality this week and give Bryce the latter, lower rating.
Charmaine: After a fortunate escape last week, project manager Charmaine gets a rating of EXCELLENT. She made the right move in stepping up to be PM to erase those bad memories from Trump’s mind. And as PM, she followed the Trump Lesson of the Week, “Keep it simple.”
George noted that Charmaine kept a group of type-A personalities focused on the tasks at hand. If your going to do something right, it’s always a little bit better if George (or Carolyn) is watching!
I thought Charmaine handled Bryce’s loss of faith smoothly, and correctly focused the group on loving what the plan had. Further, Tarek mentioned her “calmness,” a very positive quality.
Leslie: I saw Leslie this week, we have a confirmed sighting! She was supportive of upset teammate Charmaine when the latter found she might have been responsible for Theresa going home.
But most importantly, in the initial planning session she voiced the key point of, “Billboards, you only have a split-second to grab them.” I don’t think this is an earth-shaking pronouncement, but it did help me overcome her questionable suggestions of using animals as product mascots that are already associated with other cereals.
An aside, there was actually an interesting edit here. They made it seem like this part of the planning session was all one conversation. The above line flowed right after the one about using bears as a mascot, but Leslie is on the other side of Charmaine. And again with the next line, she had moved back and put on a sweater. Nice work by the sound editors, though – it flowed smoothly.
Back on topic, I’ll grant a SATISFACTORY rating for Leslie. Didn’t Kendra start off like this?
Tarek: Tarek did an excellent job of convincing a suitable product model to work for them for only $200 and a sporting outfit, though he’d have lost me when he described the job as “totally shady.”
I also liked his complimenting Charmaine’s leadership skills, which just might gain him an ally at a later stage of the game. I may have been too generous last week, but Tarek earned his GOOD rating this time out.
Synergy The “Cool Kids Clique” got their way and the evil Brent is gone. Now we’ll see if they were being held back by Brent, or merely using him as an easy target to hide their own shortcomings.
As both Sean and Andrea commented, handling Brent was always going to be a problem for Synergy. If they give him too little to do, he couldn’t be blamed in the boardroom. But what PM wants to take the chance on assigning meaningful tasks to him and letting them fail so badly that you suffer a loss? How do you rationalize that one to The Donald so you don’t get fired yourself?
Synergy actually did a pretty decent job on this week’s task; this was not a decisive victory for Gold Rush. Synergy’s ad did look cluttered, with fifteen words of text plus that lengthy product name… and they omitted the key word, “new.” Also, they did not show the box.
OK, let’s talk some basic birds and bees here. In the non-Trump universe, a young woman of about twenty probably has a father who is in his mid-forties. Not a spouse, a parent. That’s how generations generally are; the parents are often about twenty-five years older than their children. Trump could not get past his misconceptions in this area. Don’t get me started on Trump’s dating habits! OK, rant over.
Back to Synergy, they also had a weak slideshow and no one really looked at their handouts. However, it all seemed to come down to too much text and color.
Allie: Allie helpfully informed her team that her dad used to eat Grape Nuts cereal. Although at the time I was stunned that this pronouncement got airtime, it seemed to be the basis for her later suggestion regarding “Post cereal over the generations.” Good idea, and appropriate for Post, though if Brent had said it I think the team would have kept looking elsewhere.
When hunting for a model to play the father character, Allie contacted several guys who were not right for the part, which cost them time. However, I think Allie was the one who finally found the guy they used (he said he was 44, by the way). I’ll call that one a wash.1 2 Next-->
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