The Apprentice 3, MVPs and LVPs: Episodes 4-8 Corner Office & Mailroom Assignmentsby Mel Ellis -- 03/14/2005
Man, do I have a lot of catching up to do! First of all, to the loyal RNO'ers who have emailed me their choices for corner office and mailroom, rest assured I've read them all. I've been out of commission with a family emergency for a while, but I'm back and ready to hit the ground running. I have three episodes to catch up on, so bear with me. Before I do, a blanket thank you to the nasty and not-so-nasty emails that noted that the Smarts team LOST the previous competition. Hard to believe, but I don't always get things right. To quote the Bartles and Jaymes guys, "we thank you for your support."
Episode 4: Veggie Tails
Donny Deutch, the only more overly televised businessperson than The Donald himself, returns with another advertising challenge. This time, it's body wash. Given the shilling the "apprenticeseses" have to do for various products, it's a shame that "Spokesmodel" is not an attainable prize in this competition. That said, how did the teams do in portraying the cleansing qualities, the purifying perfection that is body wash?
Team Streets: Kristen, whom no one has been able to convince me is not actually Chynna (from WWE and Surreal Life 4) in a suit, decides she needs to lead because her boyfriend works in film. Well, as Joan Cusak so rightly said in Working Girl, "Sometimes I dance around the house in my underwear. Doesn't make me Madonna." As we know, Kristen's idea was to have a "race," with the winner lathering himself up with body wash. Okay idea, if a little odd, and only made odder by his only washing his face. Now, Kyan from Queer Eye might cringe, but when I'm in the shower, I wash my face with body wash. I won't deny it. And I wasn't as thoroughly grossed out as the Deutch people and Carolyn were about his not washing it off - I mean, he wasn't rubbing sewage on his face, people! Jeesh.
How did they fare? Well, John has been my "pick to win" since the beginning, and, true to form, he comes up with the great idea. The execution sucked, but that wasn't his fault. John can have the corner office again this week. I've already sent to the engraver for a nameplate. Seems he might be staying there a while if things continue like this. As for the mailroom, Kristen has to take the heavy lifting, package delivery duty for this week for making my undergrad student film look like Citizen Kane. What a horrid production! "And then there's Audrey..." (I love Little Shop of Horrors, don't you?). Audrey is not only a whiner, but is shaping up to be what I like to call a "professional victim." She can lick stamps and sort mail this week while Kristen hauls the boxes.
Anyone but me afraid to see what Bren's bedroom might look like at home? I mean, the guy wears a bowtie and acts like Mr. Uptight and then comes up with the "cucumber" spot. They say still waters run deep, but who knew that bowtied prosecutors ran kinky? The spot alone might have landed him in the mailroom. And Erin dressing everyone up as chefs was this side of malpractice. It's a BODY WASH ad. Maybe her hair is putting a strain on her brain. However, Bren's bawdiness and Erin's airheadedness did not warrant mailroom duty. Michael's negative attitude and almost paralytic laziness take the cake. Michael, go to the mailroom. Go directly to the mailroom. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Joining Michael this week is a guest clerk, "the Actress." Who gets a chance to be on national TV, to get a line for their resume, to get paid for it, and complains about waiting around? And besides, she wasn't that great, in my humble and snarky opinion. Plus, I love the idea of Michael and Actress Lady being locked in the bowels of the company for a week. Does anyone get the corner office? I'm giving it to Kendra again. She's efficient, witty, honest, and practical. She's been in the shadows of the larger personalities so far, but she has it together.
Here's the Week 4 tally:
Corner Office: Kendra (2), Darren (event planner, Week 3) (1)
Episode 5: Trailer Trash
When I was young, a group of people came up to me and asked me to get into a trailer. I was skeptical, but they were a hard sell group. Turns out they were Jews for Jesus, and I wasn't allowed to get out of the freakin' trailer until I prayed with them. So, forgive me if I have a few trepidations about a challenge that requires the "apprenticeses," as Ellen DeGeneres calls them, to convince people to pay to get into their trailers.
The teams had widely varying ideas, as you know. Smarts chose a rolling massage parlor… er, spa; Streets chose a pay-to-be-seen casting session. It was my understanding that people were trained to avoid casting sessions you had to pay for (think "scam"), but that didn't seem to stop the flood of desperate out-of-work actors that traipsed through Streets' trailer during the competition. So, who did the best and who the worst this week?
Streets: There's something about Tana that gets on my nerves. I can't place what it is. She seems very intensely perky, like a Mary Kay consultant on too much caffeine. She did a good job, but I can’t get past her innate "Tana-ness." Tara came up with the casting trailer idea and Angie gave her "I'm an actress" stamp of approval (which seems to carry more authority than the "I have a boyfriend who is a director" stamp that Kristen wielded in the last episode). Both get props for the idea, but I didn't see either of them working too hard. And then there's John. John, whom I loved; John, whom Betsy claimed as her boyfriend. He's starting to be a bullying whiner like Michael from the other team. He didn't do much but b---h about the task. He can go straight to the mailroom and work on his bad attitude. As for the corner office, I have to look past my irritation and give the office to Tana, although she is forbidden to redecorate the office while she's there (and you know she'd be wanting to).
Smarts: The rolling spa idea is okay, but all I could think of was, what kind of person would get into a van to be "rubbed down" by a total stranger, and is that the kind of work these college grads thought they'd have to do to work for The Donald? Additionally, what was the team thinking letting Bren lead after his cucumber idea? Perhaps they were banking on his falling on his derriere. No chance on him getting fired, though, as long as Michael is there to whine and complain and come up with ideas like "Massage a-go-go." He was worse than useless; he was nasty and belligerent to boot. He wouldn't sell the spa idea because it's "creepy" for a man to sell massages. Michael, we've ordered you your own chair for the mailroom. Consider this a permanent appointment.
As for the corner office, this is the first week I've seen Erin do any substantive work. She was a good seller and got a lot of traffic into the spa. Maybe it's because her bangs were finally out of her eyes or she took off the pink bathmat she likes to wear. In any case, she scored some points with me for the first time. I'm not wholly sold on your executive potential, but since your colleagues either didn't really figure in (Alex, Kendra) or were worse than useless (Bren, Michael), you can have the corner office. Consider it positive reinforcement for your change of appearance.
The tally for Episode 5:
Week 6: American Graffiti
I have prosecuted three self-proclaimed "graffiti artists" in the last three weeks. It's not an "art form" I am particularly fond of, and I think the use of graffiti in Harlem plays to a stereotype I'd just assume not dignify. Still, I don't run the circus. The ideas I gleaned from this episode were (1) only black people play Playstation; (2) black people are now referred to as the "urban demographic"'; (3) the "urban demographic" prefers its advertising on building walls. Who knew?
Each group had a building wall in Harlem and the use of a "graffiti artist" (aka, the defendant). What I couldn't figure out was why, if they had an actual artiste, the apprenticeses were the ones doing the graffiti. It's like my calling in Thom Felicia (from Queer Eye) to redecorate my house and then did all the wallpapering myself.
Streets: Tara decided that she was the urban demographic, even though Craig also fits the aforementioned description. She also decided she wanted to serve the community rather than the client which, as any malt liquor advertiser will tell you, is counterproductive. (After all, they didn't make their fortunes by having a conscience about the possible negative effects on the communities in which they advertise.) Therefore, while I applaud Tara's sense of community, she missed the boat. Heck, she wasn't even on the right pier. I've said it many times: good intentions don't count for squat in big business. Besides, Tara was egotistical and didn't give proper credit to any of her team. Tara, cool your jets in the mailroom this week. Maybe it will be a humbling experience for you.
Did anyone on Streets merit a corner office assignment this week? That's tougher. Audrey did at least play the Playstation game they were advertising and did try to get the point across that the ad did not accurately represent the game. However, she is so whiny and confrontational that she was brushed off by everyone. John also played the game, but (sorry, Betsy) he's getting to be a little too big for his britches and his attitude bugs me. Craig was in charge of the design and worked hard with the "artist" and did a solid job. True, he didn't step in enough to try and fix the error in vision that Tara had, but I didn't think he was "demeaningful" to Audrey as Audrey claimed, and he correctly pinned the lack of communication on Tara. Craig gets the corner office this week.
Smarts: The team met with the Sony people to get an idea of their vision. They also seemed to have played the game, so they knew it wasn't just an urban-area driving game. Again, I have no idea why graffiti artists were employed if Erin, Stephanie, et al were going to paint the wall themselves, but that's just me. And why not cover the wall? The ad seemed kinda small to me. Alex was a great team leader, realizing that consulting the neighborhood Playstation aficionados was key to the success of their design. His ability to manage everyone and to bring in the community like that earns him the corner office this week. Well done.
Who gets mailroom duty? Hard to say, since Kendra is still virtually non-existent, Erin's only effort seemed to be to spray on the "urban jungle" vines (can it get any more cliche?), and Stephanie was just as negative as ever. There just wasn't enough of any of that to warrant a severe demotion like mailroom. If I was forced to choose, I'd give it to Stephanie, if only so she could work on her bad attitude.
How did the teams stack up this week?
Week 7: Send in the Clowns
Right off the bat, let me just say, I HATE CLOWNS. Hate 'em. Sad ones, happy ones, silly ones, I hate them all. And I am not overstating things. When I was three, my parents spent all the money they had (which was not much) on a clown for my birthday, and I wouldn't come out of my room until they had paid him and sent him away. Hate 'em.
Glad I got that off my chest. This week's task was to create a miniature golf course. What was weird about it was that it was so obviously a hastily-thrown together project that I was amazed that anyone went to either team's course. Who wants to play miniature golf on concrete under a tent? Nevertheless, the teams did their best to be consistent in theme and presentation, although there were some problems.
Streets: Audrey is quickly coming unglued. She screams about being pretty, and shrieks about how awful it was being beautiful in high school. Cry me a river. The rest of us who were not similarly "stricken" have little or no sympathy with that argument. I agree with John that she is beautiful and I have yet to hear any teenage girl get upset about being complimented on their looks. John was riding her hard about her behavior, but he was goading her a bit. Still, Audrey always seems to come off as screechy and whiny and just a little dumb. Maybe she was just flustered, but I can't believe she can see her performance on the show and be proud. At least, I hope not.
As for John, his bad attitude and his quickly ballooning ego have made him quite unattractive to me recently (sorry, Betsy). He was my pick to win it all at the beginning, but he's kind of nasty. And condescending. And negative. I mean, I understand why he didn't want Audrey to lead the team, but he didn't need to get personal in front of Carolyn.
Maybe we should start with corner office assignment for Streets, as I am having too much trouble deciding who gets mailroom duty right now. Tana, Craig, and Chris are up for the corner office. However, the Tobaccogate seems to have been a problem for Chris, and Craig didn't do a stellar job of marketing and was part of the revolt against the clown costumes. Tana? Well, Tana... Tana... Tana was neither good nor bad. She just was. That's not enough to warrant a corner office, though. I guess no one gets it this week.
Back to the mailroom. This is difficult. I want to give it to Audrey for being whiny and snivelly and unable to make a decision. I want to give it to John for making it personal and baiting Audrey and refusing to put on the clown costume. What happened to his team spirit? I'd put them both in the mailroom, but Audrey might end up stabbing John with a letter opener. I guess, if we keep all sharp objects out of there, we can send them both to the mailroom. They both need a "time out."
Smarts: Kendra! You have arrived! You finally showed why you were picked for the show. You were organized, decisive, and strategic, locking up the whole complex for your team. Well done. Props to Stephanie for the safari/zoo theme, which the kids seemed to love, and for managing her team well. Still, the corner office goes to Kendra. Without the exclusivity agreements, the competition would have been much hard to call. Enjoy the view.
What about mailroom duty? I know that we have two people from Streets manning the mailroom this week, but is anyone from Smarts awful enough to warrant demotion? I think the women are safe and Bren seemed to have a rapport with both parents and children. Alex wasn't helpful, but I didn't see him as a negative as much as a non-entity. I can't demote someone for that. It goes against the grain. No mailroom duty for Smarts this week.
Here's how everyone is faring after Week 7:
Week 8: Tana is the hizzle fo-shizzle
I have to offer a HUGE apology to Tana. I called her annoying (and she sometimes is), but the girl is from Iowa, my home state. Also, she was AMAZING this week. I'll get to team performances in a minute, but Tana proved she could throw herself into anything and she tried harder than anyone. I also have to give myself props for guessing the "Mary Kay" part. She just screamed Mary Kay at me and, sure enough, she is one of MK's top salespeople. Explains a lot.
This week the teams offered celebrity-theme prizes for auction through Fuse. The groups/artists were randomly assigned, but I think Smarts got the raw end of the deal. At least, this truly white girl had never heard of Fat Joe, Simple Plan, or New Found Glory. I'm revealing my age there, I know, but I had no idea who these people were. The other team got Moby and Bare Naked "Laddies" - at least I knew who they were. I don't like Moby's stuff, but the name recognition of their artists was higher, in my terribly unhip opinion. How did they do?
Net Worth: I'll have to call "Streets" Net Worth since The Donald insisted on shuffling the teams. He should have taken a lesson from My Big Fat Obnoxious Boss (whose remaining episodes you can see here) and kept the teams separate. Mixing Streets and Smarts negates the whole "experiment." The group is saddled with one major handicap throughout the task: John (once again, sorry, Betsy). What a total pud! He was chauvinistic, condescending, egotistical, and an awful negotiator. Telling the women to basically say nothing and look pretty got my dander up, but his insistence on making each meeting about him was pitiful. That and the fact that he created a reverse-Tammy (from the first Apprentice) problem by bidding projects that were way too simple made him the team's greatest liability. Chris was great on air and perhaps he should have reined John in on the task (and his temper in when in the boardroom), but his efforts were solid. Not corner office solid, but good. Erin was good as well, although I didn't see the "amazing"-ness of her on-camera work that The Donald saw. She was like any other pretty airhead-y on camera personality. I could have taken or left her. I loved Chris on air, though.
Stephanie continues to be negative but, in this case, I think her complaints about John were well-founded. I didn't see what Angie did on the production end of things, but Chris insisted she was great. I'll take his word for it, but Chris can have the corner office. He was the best of the lot and put in a lot of effort. I like to reward effort. Chris should lie down on the sofa and try and get his temper under control. Yelling at George can get you booted quite quickly if you don't watch out.
As for the mailroom, there's no question but that John deserves the demotion. Heck, he deserves to go below the mailroom to the boiler room for his antics. However, in the mailroom, he'd have to serve women executives, which might be enlightening, and know one will be interested in hearing about or from him. That might be humbling enough. Get thee to the mailroom.
Magna: At first I thought Magna was hampered with Craig and Tana, since Craig hasn't shown us anything of note and, with one exception, Tana hasn't been a great player, although she gets the Miss Congeniality award for sure. The switch seems to have freed them somehow, however. They were solid players, Tana coming out with a hip-hop personality that was neither condescending nor offensive. She was downright endearing and I became a Tana fan this week. Kendra was a wonderful leader as well, choosing the right people for the tasks, complimenting hard work, and letting the group work with as much freedom as she could permit and earning their respect (as seen in their calling her to check in on their ideas before charging ahead). Solid work. I was tempted to give the corner office to Kendra for the great overall job the team did, but this week was all about Tana. She deserves it. She's off the hizzle fo-shizzle. (And I personally loved how she thought "MILF" stood for Mother I'd like to Fool Around With. Very cute.)
I can't see anyone who did a job bad enough to warrant mailroom duty. Honestly, I can't. I still don't really see what Alex brings to the table, but mailroom work is for truly awful behavior. Nope, Magna finally earned my respect this week. Well done, by all.
What's the most current tally?
Whew! It took a while, but we're finally caught up! Thanks for sticking with me and feel free to email me with your thoughts on the assignments. See you next week!
Mel Ellis is a prosecutor and loves a good debate. Feel free to email her with your thoughts on who should be or should have been mail clerks or apprentice CEO's. You can reach Mel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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