The Apprentice 2, Episode 5: The Price is Rightby Betsy Wasser -- 10/08/2004
The candidates gather in the suite, and the women of Apex seem a bit worn out from the battle in the boardroom. Sandy tells Kevin that it was brutal. Ivana says that she agrees with Carolyn’s assessment that it’s pretty pitiful that the women can’t get along with one another. Lil Stacy and Elizabeth return, so everyone knows that Jennifer C. got fired. Lil Stacy declares, “The witch is dead,” and one of the guys asks, “Which witch?” Hee!
If you thought the arguing would end after the boardroom, you’d be wrong. Elizabeth accuses Sandy of spending the day with Jennifer C. building a case against her and Lil Stacy. Sandy says that Elizabeth’s constant crying was unprofessional. Hey, they’re both right! Pamela watches all of this from her unique position as the only woman not on the fractured, losing Apex team. In an interview, she says that as a woman, she wishes the all-female team would do well, “but I’m a competitor first and a woman second.” As a result, she’s rooting “not for uteruses,” but for her own team to win. Wouldn’t it have been awesome if Apex had named themselves Uterus instead?
The Trump phone rings, and a shirtless Chris answers it. I rewound my Tivo to confirm that Chris is indeed sporting at least one nipple ring, and I shudder. The teams are to meet Trump at UPS. Chris tells us that once again, Mosaic chose their project manager at random, and that he was the lucky winner.
The teams gather at UPS. Trump breaks it down for them: the women have been decimated over the past few weeks by a lack of leadership and some ugly infighting. In an attempt to turn things around, he’s sending Pamela, a woman whom he resepects, who has a winning record, over to Apex to serve as project manager. The sides will now be an even seven men against seven women. He adds that the women all hate each other, so it won’t be easy for Pamela. Pamela says goodbye to the men of Mosaic and joins the other side.
Trump tells the teams that QVC is a huge force in retailing – they sell over 100 million items a year, and in turn, UPS ships 54 million packages for them. The teams will head to QVC headquarters in Pennsylvania, choose a product, and sell it on the air. The team with the highest gross sales wins.
The women board a bus for West Chester and QVC. Pamela tells them in no uncertain terms that things will be different from now on. She doesn’t want to hear “That’s not how we used to do it.” After all, “Whatever you used to do isn’t (bleeping) working.” She informs them that she will be bossy and bitchy, and that’s just the way it’s going to be. She says she doesn’t really know any of them and doesn’t know any of their old conflicts, and furthermore, she doesn’t care. Maria says in an interview that Pamela’s line of speaking really offended her. She says she doesn’t need a lecture from someone her own age on what is and isn’t appropriate. I’m not so sure about that. Pamela is definitely not going to win any friends with the way she’s talking to Apex, but their track record makes clear that they really need a kick in the pants to change things. Maybe it’s time for some tough love.
Pamela asks the team what tasks they’d feel comfortable taking on. Maria immediately says that she is excellent at public speaking and sales – she’d like to be on camera. Lil Stacy starts to interrupt, and Pamela chews her out, saying that they need to stop what they’re doing and listen to each other. Judging from the last episode, it seems like this is a bit of a problem for Lil Stacy. Pamela says that she’s determined to whip Apex into shape.
It’s time for the Trump Lesson of the Week already: “Price It Right.” Trump gives us a mini lecture on the laws of supply and demand and the importance of pricing items just right. As he gives us the lesson in a voiceover, he talks to Bill on the phone about Bill’s Chicago project.
Over at Mosaic, Raj says it’s crucial that they win this task. If they lose, Trump will be all over them, wondering if Pamela was the key to their success. He’s probably right – that sounds like something Trump would ask.
Apex quickly chooses their product – the It Works cleaning block. Maria and Jennifer will be on camera. Sandy will handle set design. Yeah, way to stick your neck out there with a really visible and challenging task, there Sandy. Elizabeth and Ivana will be in charge of the script, and Lil Stacy will work with legal. Pamela adds that they need to start thinking about pricing right away. In an interview, Ivana notes that even though Pamela has allocated tasks for everyone else, she hasn’t given herself any responsibility, which seems unfair to her. What’s Pamela in charge of? Well, I’ll tell you, Ivana – she’s in charge of everything. If the team loses, even if you punch Donald Trump in the mouth, Pamela’s going to be in the boardroom and will risk getting fired.
Lil Stacy suggests they choose a “medium price point.” Pamela asks her if she has a recommendation or not. Stacy says that $19.99 is an easy number, and Pamela asks again if she has a recommendation. Stacy tells her not to talk down to her, which is funny when you see the visual of the very tall Pamela talking to the very tiny Stacy. Pamela says in an interview that Stacy’s perspective is different since she’s a lawyer, not a business person. Until you’ve been in business, you just won’t understand the mindset. Pamela decides that Stacy shouldn’t be the one to choose the price point, and takes that responsibility for herself.
Mosaic chooses the Delonghi panini grill, a sharp looking kitchen gadget. Kevin says that product and pricing are the keys to winning this challenge. Kelly is working out the pricing, and things they should sell the grill for over $70. Raj disagrees – he thinks that it takes too much of a leap for the customer to decide to spend $70, and that they’d be more successful at a lower price point. He and Kelly argue back and forth over it, and in an interview, Raj says that he thinks Kelly wants to be the de facto leader of the team. By allowing Kelly to set the price, Raj thinks Chris is ceding too much power.
Pamela is working on pricing also. The sponges come in a set of 30, and she wants to sell them for a buck each – there will be no magic price point. Ivana thinks $19.99 would be more appealing, but Pamela’s decision stands. Meanwhile, Stacy has the legal rep from QVC watch the run-through of the product demonstration. She seems to be concerned with which of the labels of rival cleaning products they can and cannot show on the air. She’s very detailed, and Pamela thinks she’s being too detailed. She tells Stacy this, and says that she just needs to find a way to make the legal guy tell them yes. Stacy is incredibly frustrated and says that if Pamela didn’t want someone who was legally capable, she shouldn’t have asked her. Lil Stacy adds, “Don’t ask the lawyer. Ask the wedding planner to be the lawyer.” Good one, Stacy!
The women rehearse their pitch, and Maria does most of the talking. I immediately notice that Maria is blinking like a maniac, just like she does most of the time when she’s talking. She has really long eyelashes, so it’s kind of distracting. Elizabeth, watching how it all looks on screen, also says that she’s using her hands too much. Pamela says that with all of the hand flapping and blinking, “it really looks like she’s having a seizure.” Harsh, but true, and Elizabeth agrees. They think Jennifer is doing a much better job. Pamela goes to the set to talk to Maria about taking a back seat to Jennifer while Elizabeth talks to Ivana on the walkie-talkie. Elizabeth says to tell Jennifer that she did a great job and not to change anything, and to basically have Maria play second chair. Unfortunately, Elizabeth is good and loud on that thing, so Maria hears every word of it. Ouch. Pamela gets to the set, and Maria tells her that she doesn’t need to say anything – “I got it, loud and clear. What am I, stupid?” Then she sits alone, blinking furiously, clearly upset. In an interview, she says that it was a really inappropriate way to talk to someone, especially right before they have to go on camera. Aww… Maria really didn’t do very well on camera, but that was a harsh way to find out. I feel for her.
Mosaic is about to go on the air, and John says that nerves are high. After all, they only have 12 minutes to sell. Andy is fascinated by how it all works (and by the way, made a big mistake by agreeing to wear a hard hat in his interview). You can watch a chart that shows how many calls are coming in at any given moment, and thanks to the instant results, the people in the control room can convey that information to the people on camera. Cool. He watches in horror as the line crashes down until a customer calls in to talk about how great the grill is. The more she talks, the higher the line peaks. The 12 minutes are over quickly, and the results aren’t as good as Mosaic had hoped. Raj says that they sold about 200 grills, but they were hoping to sell 800. He thinks that the high price was a big obstacle.
The women go on the air next. They get no calls at all until Jennifer starts to demonstrate the product. Stacy says it’s like watching a horse race. Jennifer is a real natural on camera. It doesn’t seem like she’s someone selling something to you – it’s more like your friend Jennifer is telling you about a cool way she found to get crayon marks off the walls. After the time is up, Sandy says she thinks they did the best they could. They sold about 650 units, which is a relief. Pamela says that the team needed a breath of fresh air, and hopes that they not only win, but that they win big.
Trump appears to them on a big TV screen like something out of 1984 and says that both teams were impressive. The women sold 659 units at $27.23 each for a total of $17,944.57. The men sold 252 units at $71.25 for a total of $17, 955. The men win by an incredibly close margin. They all cheer, and Chris immediately gives credit to Kelly for setting their price point and congratulates his team. Chris irritated me last episode, but I really respect the way he praises everyone after the win. As a reward, Mosaic will go to the Arthur Ashe tennis stadium to play tennis with John McEnroe and Anna Kournikova. Plus, on October 11th, the candidates will come back to QVC to sell their products again. I guess if you’re interested in a new grill or miracle sponge, you’ll know when to watch.
Mosaic meets at the stadium where John and Anna are playing tennis. Andy says that he’s played tennis for his entire life and has had a poster of John McEnroe on his poster for years. He is absolutely thrilled to meet him, and actually manages to return some volleys that McEnroe hits to him.
Raj, on the other hand, is much more interested in Anna. He immediately hits on her, but it doesn’t seem to be working. In an interview, he says, “If you are… in the presences of such beauty, you must take a shot.” Hey, can’t blame a guy for trying. Raj and Anna work out a deal – she’ll send him five serves. If he can return one, she’ll go out for coffee with him. If he doesn’t, she can give him a dare. Anna serves the ball, and Raj complains that she put a spin on it, “like Clinton.” He calls the next one “a Slick Willie serve.” Wow, I bet that joke killed in 1992, Raj! Keep an eye out for Raj to make some “flip flop” jokes in around 2012. Raj rapidly misses five times, much to the amusement of the rest of the team. The rest of the guys and Anna immediately decide that Raj needs to strip down to his boxers and run a lap around the stadium. Sweet! Raj struts around the stadium and a slow jog, waving to everyone as he runs. Then, Anna, John, and the team all start firing tennis balls at him. A good time is had by all.
I’m sure it will surprise no one that things aren’t so jovial with Apex. Lil Stacy says that they need to come up with reasons that Pamela should get fired. In an interview, she says that Pamela was really disrespectful towards all of them. Sandy puts it more simply: the price point was too high, and Pamela was the one who set it. Ivana says that it’s really a matter of Pamela against the rest of the team. Well, Trump was hoping that Pamela could bring the fractured Apex team together, and she did, but I don’t think this is what he had in mind. Elizabeth says that anyone with decent leadership experience could have led the team to victory. That’s funny, since she couldn’t do it herself.
Meanwhile, Pamela is alone, working out. She says she felt confident that what Apex really needed was structure, and she provided it. She adds that she doesn’t want to seem too overly confident, but that she’d be very surprised if she were fired. Oh, well that’s great, Pamela. I thought you had a shot at staying in this until you jinxed yourself like that!
The women head into the boardroom, and Maria is wearing a hideous black suit trimmed with silver studs. Put the Bedazzler away, Maria! Trump immediately focuses on Pamela and says, “You lost again.” Pamela tries to play it off as a tie, since the final totals were so close. George says that’s ridiculous. Their total was lower, and the margin doesn’t matter – a loss is a loss. And really, shouldn’t any Apprentice hopeful know better by now than to come into the boardroom claiming that they didn’t really lose? Trump never buys it.
Jennifer, still the voice of reason, says that the price point was too high, and that Pamela was the one who chose it. Pamela argues that actually, it was too low. Trump and Carolyn disagree. Carolyn adds that $30 is a lot of money for a cleaning product, and that if they had priced their sponges lower, they would have sold enough to win the task. I tend to think she’s right. Ivana says that Pamela has “a very distinct leadership style,” in that she makes decisions without feedback from the rest of the team. Trump then asks Pamela who she’d like to bring back to the boardroom. Pamela chooses two people – Maria and Lil Stacy.
Once the women clear out of the boardroom, George says that he was impressed with Pamela’s leadership. She made them a team, and she was strong. Trump wonders if maybe she was too strong with them. George says that she was a good leader. Carolyn agrees, but says that the price point was what lost the task, and it was Pamela’s decision.
The three women return to the boardroom, and Trump asks Pamela why she brought Lil Stacy in. Pamela says that Lil Stacy doesn’t add any value to the team. Stacy vehemently disagrees as Pamela says that she is a distracting presence on the team. Stacy tells Trump that she was put in charge of legal, but that Pamela told her she was “too legal.” Stacy then goes in for the kill, saying, “I’m not going to act unethically. If you want another Enron on your hands, Mr. Trump, here’s Pamela.” Pamela blows it off, saying that Stacy was just focused on labels on the bottles. That might not be an Enron-level scandal, but face it – Stacy just zapped Pamela hard.
What about Maria – why is she there? Maria says she’d like to know, too. Pamela says that Maria claimed to be a specialist in public speaking, but was terrible on camera. Maria says that she is good at public speaking, and that the whole group thought she’d do a good job. Then, when she was on camera, they thought her rate of speech was too fast. Carolyn agrees that it was. Pamela says that Maria is a compelling speaker, but just wasn’t good on camera, so she had to replace her at the last minute. Stacy says she thinks Maria is an excellent saleswoman who was not used well. She adds that she doesn’t think Pamela wants to be held accountable.
Pamela says that she asked the women what they were good at, then asked them what tasks they wanted to take on. One usually matched the other, so she thought they were just fine. Trump says that she should have assessed their skills herself, since she was in charge. He adds that she doesn’t assess people well at all. Pamela is fired.
As an unhappy Pamela takes the elevator of despair, Carolyn says she thinks they made the right choice. Trump says that Pamela is very opinionated, but that her opinions are almost always wrong. George says that she has a good head on her shoulders – but Trump reminds her that she does tend to be wrong.
It’s kind of a shame that Pamela got fired this week, as I think she’s smart and made a real effort to change things at Apex. Trump challenged her to get them into shape, and she tried her best at what had to have been a hard task, especially as an outsider. But she made some mistakes. She needed to be firm, but she took things too far and came across as dictatorial, rubbing absolutely everyone the wrong way. And, very simply, the team lost based on price point, and Pamela picked the price point. They didn’t lose because Stacy was obnoxious with the legal department, because Ivana and Elizabeth wrote a bad script, because Sandy’s set design needed work, or because Jennifer or Maria messed up on air. They lost because the sponges were priced too high to sell in adequate volume, and it was Pamela’s decision to price them as she did. This week, for this task, she was the one who had to go.
In her cab ride home, Pamela says that she planned to be above board and direct, with no factions. She adds that there’s a difference between a cutthroat competition and political mudslinging, and wonders if she’d have done better if she were more underhanded.
Next week, Mosaic faces the awesome challenge of having to design women’s clothes. Can they continue their winning streak? Plus, in the boardroom, one candidate learns a valuable lesson: Don’t annoy George! I can hardly wait.
Betsy is the Associate Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached with any comments at email@example.com.