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The Apprentice 5 Corner Office and Mailroom Assignments, Episode 13by Jenn Brasler -- 05/25/2006
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I didn’t think it made any sense to do my normal mailroom/corner office assignments this week, as both Roxanne and Allie deserved the mailroom and both Sean and Lee deserved the corner office. Instead, I’ll be taking a look at where I’ve placed Lee and Sean in past weeks to see if their tallies tell us anything about how things may go in the finals. For purposes of the tallies, I’ll give them some extra credit and award them both the corner office for the Embassy Suites task.
When I first started thinking about this article, I thought that Lee was less consistent than Sean. But when I went to look at my tallies, I realized that both guys have been in the corner office four times. Lee was there week one, week eight, week nine, and just this past week. This shows that he started and finished strong, even if he got lost a little in the shuffle there in the middle.
On the first task, attracting customers to Sam’s Club, I gave Lee the corner office because I thought he stuck out the most (in a good way) of all of the members of Gold Rush. I said that he “took his job seriously” and “made the most positive impact on the team.” In the boardroom, Lee lobbied for Tarek’s firing since he really believed he should go. Not only did he understand the point of the task, he knew what was going on in the team and who deserved to be held responsible for the loss.
Lee stayed out of the corner office for seven more weeks, landing there again after trying to make bulk sales of p’eatzzas. To me, this was Lee’s most memorable moment of the season. He thought like Trump, as he himself said, and took a risk that wouldn’t hurt the team at all if it didn’t pan out. Trump is all about making money, so he loves when people can sell. Lee’s deal fell through, but he proved himself a master salesman. I don’t think Trump will forget that. In addition, Lee knew that Leslie had priced the p’eatzzas too high, which shows that he knew his target demographic. That’s another skill that Trump likes his apprentices to have.
The next week, I sent Lee back to the corner office because of his prowess on the Ellis Island task. He once again knew his demographic, telling his team that most of the tourists would gather at Battery Park and that would be the best place to sell to them. Not only that, he made sure Gold Rush was there bright and early to get a monopoly on the crowd before Synergy was even out of bed. Lee demonstrated some great thinking on that task, and he was a big part of the reason Gold Rush won that week.
This past week, Lee demonstrated that even on a task he knew next to nothing about, he could still do well. Lee admitted he wasn’t a big fashion guy, so a task revolving around making new uniforms couldn’t have been his ideal job. And yet he made it look easy. It was his idea to run focus groups with the employees, which is definitely the reason Gold Rush won - they actually listened to their target audience and got their input. After all, these people would actually have to wear what Gold Rush created, so why not ask them what they wanted? Lee kept in mind that the customer comes first and you can’t win unless your audience is happy with the final result.
Lee has only been in the mailroom once, in week two, when I banished him because he didn’t listen to his team and showed a little too much ego. I even rewarded Lenny, Leslie, and Charmaine for standing up to him. At the time I wrote, “He probably thinks that he needs to prove himself because he’s the youngest candidate this season.” In the past few weeks, Lee has jumped that hurdle and proven that he can play with the big boys. But his youth might still be a detriment. Trump tends to mention when candidates are less experienced than others; apparently he doesn’t want to have to teach them, even though an apprentice is a person who needs to be taught something. So even though Lee has shown that his age isn’t a huge factor, Trump might not be willing to overlook it.
It looks like I virtually ignored Sean up until week six (probably because I was bitter that Betsy claimed him as her Apprentice boyfriend first). But on the Arby’s task, his first as project manager, Sean proved himself to be a top contender. I originally wrote that he was a good project manager because he found a middle ground - “he wasn’t overbearing (like Dan) but he didn’t sit back and let everyone do his or her own thing without organization (like Theresa).” He knew that his team should meet with the Arby’s executives before doing anything else, something that every project manager should do (and I’m still shocked whenever one doesn’t). Most importantly, Sean earned his teammates’ respect that week, something Trump always takes into consideration.
Sean was right back in the corner office the next week, along with Roxanne, Allie, and Tammy. Despite the fact that the completely ineffectual Michael was their project manager, Sean and his teammates were able to work together to create a great room for a Boys and Girls Club. They didn’t just work well with a bad leader, they worked well in spite of a bad leader. Sean showed that he was able to get the job done no matter what (or who) made that difficult.
As I originally wrote, on week 12, Sean, like Tim Gunn, made it work. He was once again saddled with a person who was less than helpful and almost caused a completely disaster (the even-more-ineffectual-than-Michael-if-that’s-possible Adrien). Sean played through, figuring out how to make the display look like he and Lee wanted it to even without all of their supplies or the ability to complete things the way they wanted to. He knew when to fight for what he wanted and when to let things go. I think Trump would appreciate the way that Sean acted on that task - he was a strong employee and took charge of a situation that was quickly spiraling out of control.
Because Lee and Sean were the only two Gold Rush members on the last task, it’s hard to separate who did what. However, Sean was the one who really took charge of the actual uniforms. Even with as little experience in fashion as Lee had, Sean made it seem like he knew what he was doing and, more importantly, knew what he wanted. If “fake it till you make it” has never been a Trump Lesson of the Week, it should be, and Sean would be a prime example of it. Plus, like Lee, Sean listened to what the employees wanted and made sure the uniforms were suited to their tastes and needs. He recognized the point of the task and stayed focused on what the outcome needed to be.
So what does it all mean?
Well… nothing, probably. It’s not like Trump is going to read this and take everything I’ve said into consideration. But Sean and Lee’s moments in the corner office are examples of their strengths and what each would bring to the table as the apprentice. Both possess many of the qualities Trump looks for in an employee, and I’m sure he has considered all of them while contemplating which one to hire. Sean and Lee are almost equally matched… but not quite.
Lee’s one turn in the mailroom (versus Sean’s lack of any banishments there) probably won’t mean anything to Trump, but there’s something else to keep in mind: as someone recently pointed out to me, every past apprentice has had a perfect record going into the final two. Sean is currently 3-0. Lee is 3-1. This, to me, speaks volumes. No matter how great he may be, Lee has a strike against him. It’s unclear what this will mean, if anything, but if it comes down to a close call, Lee’s one loss as project manager could be the difference between him being the apprentice and him selling rhinestones on infomercials.
Jenn Brasler is an Assistant Editor of Reality News Online and an aspiring writer from Falls Church, VA. You can e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. If Trump isn’t going to read her articles, she’d settle for Ivanka giving them a skim.
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