The Apprentice 2 Weekly Performance Review, Episode 1: Crustacean Frustrationby Mike DeGeorge -- 09/14/2004
For those of you not around last year, I am Mike DeGeorge and every week, I will put the Apprentices through a level of workplace hell they won't get to experience through the show - the dreaded annual performance review. Except I will conduct these reviews each and every week, taking into account not only the most recent episode, but building on each past show. My opinions can change from week to week - as they did with Heidi - or each episode can simply reinforce my beliefs, as with Amy.
Before we begin, a word about last year's contestants. I normally hate seeing contestants being compared to previous seasons' contestants. However, I will be dropping the names of many of Season One's Apprentices, but only as points of reference. I don't intend to compare one season to another, as they are separate entities. But a certain amount of comparison is necessary to illustrate a point of why a certain action was or wasn't a very good idea.
Finally, you'll want to make sure to watch the episode and read Betsy Wasser's fine recap every week before reading this. I will be referring to certain events and you might be lost without the context. Also, at times I will mention Betsy's comments and agreeing or disagreeing in order to help bring my point into focus.
With that, let's begin, as always, winning team first:
I am a bit ambivalent on the name. I don't love it, but it's better than some. It does show that you guys are aiming high, which is never a bad idea.
As for the toy, I didn't think the interchangeable remote controlled car was exactly innovative or interesting, but the kids loved it. As I say below, I thought the football toy would have been a winner.
Elizabeth, Jennifer C., Jennifer M., Sandy, and Stacy: None of you really did enough to separate yourself from the pack. In some cases, this is a good thing - see Ivana, below. It doesn't mean anything, it just means that with eighteen candidates, there wasn't enough time to show everyone.
However, I want to point out, whoever's wardrobe seems to consist entirely of tube tops and skirts (I'm thinking it was Jennifer, but I can't tell all these blondes apart yet) - cut it the hell out. Unless you're angling for a modeling contract after the show, it's not going to help you one little bit. Did you even WATCH the first season?
Ivana: The only reason I didn't include you in the above category is that you came up with the idea of a "Junior Drag Queen" wardrobe, an idea that is so patently ridiculous that it would have gotten you thrown out of most boardrooms. Did you miss the meeting where they said you're designing a toy for little boys? Thinking outside the box is one thing, but let's try to stay in the same building, hmm?
Maria: You scare me. But in a good way. Trump and I would both love the intensity and drive you are showing, but threatening your project manager with a throttling - even in jest - is a wee bit much. Tone it down a notch.
Stacie: Speaking of toning it down a notch, you need to tone it down SEVERAL notches. Your little meltdown told me one thing: you can't handle pressure. If you can't deal with waiting a few minutes for the results of your challenge, you are going to be dead as disco in the weeks ahead.
Bradford: You're getting a lot of credit this week, and for the most part, you deserved it. You took the initiative and volunteered for the other team, which was a huge plus. Personally, I loved the idea of the little remote-controlled football player guy. Heck, if you could get sponsorship, you could put the pro logos on the helmets and get a bunch of kids together and play a game! It could be like those vibrating stadiums that every kid in the world had. And even if you couldn't get sponsorship, you could make up your own teams. I thought it was a winner.
But your teammates didn't, and you went ahead anyway. An executive decision is a good thing when the others are deadlocked. It's another when you just decide and cut off debate and you're the only one who agrees with your position. It was dangerous, but I have to admire the confidence. You were afraid that your teammates didn't understand the concept (based on some of the ideas, you may have been right), so you did it yourself. I also think that based on the huge lists the women had been making (did you really need all fifty of those name suggestions?!) you snapped. Something tells me that "let's make a list of options" is not a phrase you use often.
You redeemed yourself somewhat in your teammates' eyes by ditching your idea when the design team didn't like the idea. I don't think it was a case of your taking the design team's opinions over your teammates. I think you realized they might be right, and got a second opinion. Either that, or you wanted to use the design team as proof that your idea was good. I think your self-deprecating, "my idea sucks" comment shows that you were changing your mind.
In any case, you showed tremendous leadership in a situation where it would have been easier to lay low and allow others to take the reigns. You're not afraid to take big time risks and put them all on your shoulders, and that puts you above and beyond everyone else right now.
Man, and I thought I hated "VersaCorp" last year! I'm firmly behind Raj, I can't stand the name - it's mamby pamby and weak. You don't think a man like Trump would have gone nuts for "Empire"?
I have to say, I wasn't thrilled with Crustacean Nation. It was a decent idea, and it seems like it got the short shrift because you didn't get the chance to present the entire storyline, with the card game and everything. It may have been a better idea in terms of long-term sales, but we've learned throughout the first series that long-term thinking doesn't always work as well as you might think.
Chris, John, Kelly, and Kevin: Again, there just wasn't enough shown of you this week to get a good opinion. However, is it just me, or does Kelly bear a striking resemblance to Nick from season one?
Wes: We didn't see a lot of you, but what we did see wasn't very positive. With every comment, you painted yourself as a cocky, unlikeable boor.
Raj: I like your style. I have to wonder if the bow tie, cane, and red pants are just who you are, or you are specifically trying to set yourself apart from the herd. Either way, it worked, big time. I am right there with you on the team name, and wish you would have spoken out more in front of Trump about it. The only problem is, Trump may single you out as a "loose cannon." He likes people to think differently - just not TOO differently.
Andy: You strike me as a bit of a blank slate. Your mind is like a sponge, you're ready to learn. Employers LOVE that. And you're obviously intelligent. But Trump needs someone to RUN the company, not to LEARN how to run it. So you're at a huge disadvantage right off the bat, but I think you can prove yourself. You came up with the idea, even though it lost, it proved you have something to contribute, "even though" you lack experience. Pamela really teed off on you in the boardroom, so if I were you, I would volunteer to be Project Manager next week to PROVE you deserve to be there.
Pamela: I can't believe you weren't fired in this episode. The only thing I can figure is that they think you'll be the source of drama in the future. Why? Let's see. You insulted the kids in front of Carolyn and the execs. How did you know that wasn't one of their kids? How would you have felt if George stood up in the boardroom and said, "That was my grandson"? You tried to blame Mattell - the biggest and most successful toymaker in the WORLD - by saying that they didn't understand the contest. Nice. You have an ego that needs to be slapped down a few pegs, and Trump is just the one to do it.
Let's continue, though, with your many faults. You didn't even understand the concept of bringing an extra person back into the boardroom with you. You didn't utilize your entire team to its full potential, as many people besides Rob complained that you were ineffective as a delegator. The way I see it, your only positive this episode was volunteering to lead, as that is a BIG plus in Trump's eyes. That's not nearly enough for me, and you've got a HUGE negative on your account right now. I don't see you lasting very long.
Rob: I can't say it any better than Trump - you shouldn't need to be told what to do. If you don't have anything to do, do SOMETHING. But as bad of a leader as Pamela was, it was a bit surprising to see your teammates turn on you so badly, just because you had one bad idea and then clammed up. Maybe they pounced on the weak, but I'm guessing there is more to the story than meets the eye.
Mike DeGeorge has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Management from Christian Brothers University in Memphis, and has almost ten years of management experience. He is also Assistant Editor of RNO. Email Mike at email@example.com.
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