The Apprentice 3, Episode 1: Have it Your Wayby Betsy Wasser -- 01/21/2004
Welcome to New York, a city that Donald Trump says is tough, beautiful, and full of energy. After two seasons of this show, Trump says, “You know everything about me,” which is nice since this way I don’t have to recap his resume. He says he hires only the best people to run his companies, and he needs someone new. Over the next 16 weeks, the 18 candidates will be subject to a grueling job interview. This time around, they’ll be divided up into a team of candidates with advanced degrees versus a team with just high school diplomas. Trump emerges from his limo onto a city street to a cheering crowd. Together, Trump and the crowd ask, “Who will be the next Apprentice?”
The candidates arrive at Trump Tower. Chris says that for him, failure is not an option. Tana looks around and decides that some of the others are not Trump material. John notices Danny, who he calls, “that guy in a leisure suit.” John figures Danny dances to the beat of a different drummer and, “that drummer loves polyester.” John is officially cracking me up, and the fact that he kind of looks like Vince Vaughn isn’t hurting. Bren calls himself “a little man with a big mouth.” Michael thinks some of the women look awfully pampered, like they’d be afraid of hard work. Erin thinks that some of the men are chauvinists, and she intends to prove that women are just as capable.
With those first impressions over, Robin sends the candidates into the boardroom and directs the women to sit on the left, the men on the right. Trump introduces George and Carolyn. Then he gets right to it – the teams won’t be divided into men against women this time around. There will be two groups, and the two groups have roughly the same IQ and are about the same age. The difference is that one group makes three times as much money as the other group. They’ll be divided up as college graduates against high school graduates, and in case you didn’t see this coming, the high school graduates are the ones that make more money. Trump wonders aloud if practical experience is more important than education.
He tells the candidates that once again, if a project manager leads his or her team to a win, he or she will be exempt from firing in the next challenge. Trump then says, “For the next 16 weeks, you’ll be living in hell,” and that the candidates shouldn’t expect to get much sleep. Considering that I have a new baby with colic, I have no sympathy for them whatsoever. If they want hell, they can come to my house and listen to some screaming. Granted, my son Jack is much cuter than Donald Trump.
The candidates head to the suite and ooh and aah appropriately. They break open the champagne and Tana reads the card from Donald Trump. Tana, by the way, is bubblier than the champagne itself, and if she doesn’t turn things down a notch, she’s going to seriously annoy me. The note from Trump instructs the candidates to divide into teams and choose names for their companies.
One of the candidates – John, I think – suggests that instead of being called high school graduates that his group be called the wealthier group. Verna, on the other side, says that the high school graduates had better look out. John says that he feels great because as the less educated group, they have nothing to lose. If some Harvard grad beats him, he can say, “Well, he went to Harvard.” But if he beats the Harvard guy, then that guy has lost to “some schmoe from Tampa.”
Tara says that knowing her group makes more money makes her feel really confident. John believes that attitude and experience are more important than education. He tells the team that they need to work together and work hard. They also agree that whatever is said in the boardroom stay there; in other words, they shouldn’t hold any grudges. That’s a good idea in theory – let’s see how long that lasts! Brian tells everyone that if he has a problem with their performance, he’ll say so. He expects the same from everyone else, so if they try to surprise him in the boardroom, look out.
Over on the book smart team, Danny declares himself the “CMO” or Chief Morale Officer. Stephanie says he’ll be the cheerleader for their team. Danny says in an interview that due to his quirky appearance, the other people on the team will underestimate him. They start to throw out names. Legacy? Triumph? Danny busts out his guitar and tries incorporating the different names into songs. Man, after about half an hour of the guitar antics, I’d be tempted to smash that guitar like Belushi did in the toga party in Animal House. Verna is apparently also irritated and notes that Danny needs to focus. Finally, they choose the name Magna, based on magna cum laude. Alex introduces the team, who you can read all about in my preview article.
The street smarts team is also brainstorming for a name. Brian suggests “Brass Balls,” because you need a pair to win. I have two suggestions: one is that they call the team Brass Ovaries instead, and the other is that Brian should shut up. The team chooses Net Worth, and John introduces all of the people who you just read about in my preview article.
Danny says that they have a lot of work ahead of them, but for now, they should have some fun. He plays the guitar while the others sing. The Net Worth team finds it all incredibly obnoxious. Kristen says, “I guess that’s what they did in college” while her team was, you know, working. By the way, if Kristen looks familiar to you, it’s because she was on the show Murder in Small Town X, which you can read about here.
The next morning, Angie answers the Trump Phone and learns that they should all meet at the top of Trump Tower. There, Trump learns the names of their companies and, in an Apprentice first, likes both of them. Trump goes on to tell them about the challenge. The two teams will work at Burger King restaurants. Six new burgers are being added to the menu. Each team will choose a burger and launch it – they’ll name it, market it, sell it, and manage the restaurant. The team that gets the most money from the new product will win.
The teams head back to the suite to make plans. For Net Worth, John says that he’s got restaurant experience, so he volunteers to be project manager. He says that he’d like for everyone’s opinions to be heard, so he asks that if they have ideas, that they raise their hands. It’s a little kindergarten, but it’s fair, so I think it’s a good way to handle things. They agree that the first thing they should do is choose a product, so they head to the restaurant to meet the chef.
Over at Magna, Todd says that he also has restaurant experience, so he offers to lead. Danny volunteers to handle the marketing. Bren says in an interview that since Danny said he was good at marketing, he’d best prove it. Could that be foreshadowing? It’s hard to tell… it’s so subtle.
Trump Lesson of the Week: “Perseverance.” Don’t give up. Thus endeth the lesson.
Net Worth heads to Burger King. They quickly choose the Western Angus burger because they think it’ll be the easiest to market. Sounds like a plan.
Manga also meets with the chef. Verna proclaims herself to be a fast food enthusiast and says that the three cheese burger is a winner. It does look pretty darned good, I must say. Todd puts Danny and Stephanie in charge of marketing and sends them to Burger King headquarters to get started. He appoints Alex the restaurant manager. Verna and Erin will work the cash registers and start their training right away. Erin has a really hard time working the touch pad cash register, much to Verna’s disdain. George watches in the background and says that he once worked as a soda jerk, so he knows all about this kind of job. It’s fun to imagine an old timey George making malts, isn’t it? Meanwhile, Todd is sitting in a booth by himself while everyone else works. Alex approaches him and Todd says that he is “collecting his thoughts” and will be there if anyone needs him. Alex is not impressed.
Net Worth decides to make Wanted posters to promote their Western-themed sandwich. Brian says in an interview that he thinks John is doing a great job delegating. They decide to find some inexpensive cowboy costumes and to add a contest. Tana suggests a vacation to Las Vegas. Everyone loves the idea. Brian then heads with some teammates to buy the costumes and decorations. He says he once ran a dollar store, so he knows how to get the best prices. At the store, they get what they need, and Brian takes a shine to a plastic Viking helmet. He begs the store owner to throw in the Viking helmet for free. When he agrees, Brian triumphantly says, “Now that’s negotiating, baby!” Somewhere on VH1, Flavor Flav is pissed that Brian is stealing his look. Kristen thinks Brian is being ridiculous, a point that’s hard to argue with.
Meanwhile, for Magna, Danny and Stephanie meet with Russ, the Vice President of Product Development for Burger King. He asks what they’re going to name the three cheese burger. Danny says they’re not planning to use any kind of fancy name, and Russ looks underwhelmed. He asks who their target customer is. Danny says they really don’t have one in mind because they have a limited amount of time. It’s true, but it’s also kind of embarrassing – so far they have no name and no marketing plan. Stephanie feels unprepared and doesn’t like it. Their tagline is “Just Say Cheese,” which Russ says is okay.
Stephanie explains that they planned to set up a red carpet and have people take customers’ pictures, like paparazzi, but after the meeting, Danny wants to change tactics completely. He didn’t like Russ’s feedback and wants to start over. Stephanie throws out ideas, including “Three Ring Circus,” to go with the three cheese idea. Danny says that the circus idea is “rather dull,” which makes me wonder what kind of circuses poor Danny went to as a kid. Stephanie notes that Danny shoots down all of her ideas. Todd calls them to see how things are going and offers to help. Danny dodges his questions and hangs up the phone. Todd apparently fails to see this as a red flag, as he looks impotently at his phone.
Net Worth also meets with Russ. Russ seems to like the idea, provided they can actually afford the Vegas deal. They assure him they can, and Tana calls to set it up. She and Kristen go to pick up the tickets and are surprised to learn that the travel agency doesn’t have a storefront, but rather is some guy’s apartment. Kristen isn’t comfortable buying the tickets that way. Tana says that the place smells bad because of the travel agent’s dogs. The smell gets worse when one of the dogs actually pees on her. Outstanding!
I just realized that I’ve neglected to mention that Danny has, throughout the episode, been leading his team in yelling, “Unbelievable!” periodically. Maybe I’ve blocked it from my memory, because it is really annoying.
Speaking of Danny, he and Stephanie are still trying to come up with a plan. Danny says that he’s the “out of the box guy” and feels a lot of pressure to come up with something great. Finally, they land on “Triple Play,” just as Todd calls to ask what’s going on. Luckily, Todd loves the idea and the baseball theme.
Meanwhile, John calls the Burger King crew for a pep talk. He asks them how many of them have college diplomas. No one raises his hand, and John tells them that none of his people have college diplomas either. Everyone loves it. He says this is their chance to prove that they’re better than the people down the street with their fancy degrees.
Magna gets to work, and Erin tries rather ineffectually to sell the triple cheese burger to a customer. Alex says he felt confident in his team until he saw Danny’s promotional materials. Danny has set up on the street a box with a picture of the burger on it. There’s a hole cut in the box, and customers are supposed to throw a ball into the hole… why? I’m not sure? Alex says that it, “looks like some drunk hippies threw some stuff together,” and he’s right. Danny also, of course, has his guitar and is singing about the sandwich. Carolyn comes by and tells us, “This is sad.” How I’ve missed you in the past month, Carolyn. Kendra says in an interview that Todd should have seen Danny’s foibles and taken charge of the marketing.
Things look much better at Net Worth. The front of the restaurant is covered with signs advertising the new burger. One of the candidates is handing out flyers, and everyone is talking up both the sandwich and the Vegas contest. Inside, Tana works hard to convince a customer to try the new burger and succeeds. John says that the women were working the cash registers and were doing a great job selling the sandwich. Angie says in an interview that her team has an advantage in that they believe “nothing is beneath us.” Luckily, the team does not choose that as a slogan to counter “Unbelievable!”
At 12:30, Magna experiences a huge lunch rush. The trouble is, according to Alex, the cashiers can’t keep up with the demand. Erin has trouble working the cash registers. In an interview, Erin, who is apparently wearing a pink bath mat as a shirt, says something about not having enough trained cashiers, but it’s kind of hard to focus on what she’s saying, because did I mention that she’s wearing a pink bath mat as a shirt? Alex agrees that they don’t have enough cashiers and points out that because Todd opted to sit in a booth and think rather than get any training himself, he can’t really help them. A customer walks out of the restaurant, saying the service was too slow.
Net Worth has their drawing at the end of the day. Tara is hopeful that they’ll win and says that everyone worked really hard.
The teams go to the boardroom to learn the results. George says that Magna sold 139 of their burgers for a total of $553.22. Carolyn says Net Worth sold 182 units and brought in $596.96. Net Worth wins! Trump congratulates John, who says that his team did a great job. For their reward, they’ll go to the 21 Club for dinner.
That night, Trump and Melania meet Net Worth at the 21 Club. Tara says that the place is fabulous. Over dinner, Trump tells them he’s not surprised they won the first challenge. He congratulates John again and shakes his hand, which John says in an interview was a thrill. Brian asks Trump about a story he heard – Trump’s limo broke down on the way to Atlantic City and a couple helped him out. A few weeks later, the couple found out that Trump had paid off their house for them – is the story true? Trump tells Brian that it is, to which Brian responds, “That is #$%king awesome!” Brian then drops the f-bomb again as he leads a toast to not being the first person to get fired. I believe we’ll soon be seeing that Brian is a tad rough around the edges.
In the suite, Magna meets to talk about what went wrong. Todd says that the marketing was the root of all of their frustrations. Not surprisingly, Danny disagrees and says that the problem was not having enough people at the registers. In a melodramatic interview, Danny says that he, the team cheerleader and morale officer, is being accused of treason! The nerve! Later, Todd tells Alex privately that he thinks Alex missed an opportunity in upselling the product and will take him to the boardroom, too. Alex says in an interview that Todd was a terrible leader, but that Danny was “a steamroller with a drunk driver at the helm.” I hope Alex is around for a while, because he’s funny. Also, kind of cute. As soon as I think that, Todd potentially jinxes that by telling Alex that he’s sure Alex will be safe.
Stephanie tells Danny that she knows she did a great job with the marketing, and so did he. She says they will survive, and that she’ll support Danny and go after Todd. Meanwhile, Erin flops down on Todd’s bed in a crying fit and says that she hates to backstab people she likes. She just doesn’t know how she’s going to handle going into the boardroom and telling Trump who she’d fire. First of all, has Erin never seen this show? Didn’t she know this was part of the deal? Second of all, you’re not stabbing anyone in the back; you’re stabbing them in the front. Third, what’s that phrase in the opening credits of the show? Oh, that’s right: It’s not personal. It’s business. How on earth is Erin a lawyer if this is how she handles pressure and confrontation?
In the boardroom, as you might expect, Trump immediately chastises the college grads for losing to people with high school diplomas. Todd says his strategy was to divide the team into two groups – Danny and Stephanie on marketing, everyone else in the restaurant. One problem was that Magna only had two people trained to work the registers, whereas the other team had three. George says that was a huge problem.
Carolyn says the promotion was an issue as well, adding, “I have never seen a worse promotion, ever.” And keep in mind that among the promotions Carolyn has seen was, “I’ll drop my skirt for twenty dollars.” George agrees, and says that when he saw Danny’s throw the ball in the box thing, he had no idea what it was even supposed to be, so imagine how confused the customers must have been. Danny looked like a street performer, not a promoter. Danny says that he actually was victorious – his goal was to get attention, and people did come in the store. Carolyn says his goal wasn’t just to get people in the store, but also to get them to buy that specific sandwich. Todd says that the marketing was horrible. Trump says that since he was the team leader, he should have had more control over it.
Next, Trump asks about the way Danny dresses. Todd says that Danny’s clothes are stylish “for him,” but that they wouldn’t work if he was in the Trump organization. Danny says that his clothes reflect his character, and that he’s an individual, not a clone. George is offended and asks if he’s a clone. Danny says that he has worked with huge companies, and they are more interested in his expertise than in his attire. Verna thinks Danny’s clothes put him at a disadvantage and that he isn’t talented enough to overcome it. Trump starts to ask Erin about Danny’s clothes, then gets sidetracked and asks her if she loves to sue men. It’s a non-starter, as Erin denies it. She says that she doesn’t personally like Danny’s clothes and thinks that they need to dress appropriately. This from the woman who wore a pink bath mat, though to be fair, she didn’t wear the bath mat to the boardroom.
Who would everyone on the team fire? Verna says Danny, because the marketing just wasn’t strong enough. Danny is shocked that Verna named him (though I can’t see why he’s surprised). He says he’d fire Todd because he didn’t train enough people and Todd himself was not trained. Stephanie names Danny. Now that is a surprise, since she said she’d go after Todd. Stephanie says that she and Danny spent all day working together and Danny couldn’t make a decision. Danny asks Stephanie if she wasn’t also part of this failed marketing strategy. Stephanie says that she had plenty of ideas, but that Danny didn’t listen to her. Bren says he’d fire Danny. Kendra, on the other hand, would fire Todd for being unable to control Danny. Finally, Alex would fire Danny because he might be impossible to manage. Todd chooses Alex and Danny to accompany him to the final boardroom.
George says that Danny defines the term “loose cannon,” but that the team actually lost because they didn’t have enough people at point of sale. Carolyn says that the team is ganging up on Danny, except for Kendra, who Carolyn thinks is smart. She agrees that Todd is the reason they lost the task.
The candidates return. Trump asks Todd why he chose Alex. Todd explains that Alex managed the point of sale. He agrees that it was a mistake not to train more people to work the registers. Alex takes responsibility for not training more people. This gets Trump’s attention, because he thought before that Alex was safe, but now he’s not so sure. Alex still thinks the problem is Todd’s fault. George seems to agree, saying that the leader shouldn’t have delegated such an important task. Todd says that Danny is “uncontrollable.” Trump says that Todd couldn’t control Danny.
Trump tells Alex that he did a lousy job by not training more people. Todd, on the other hand, didn’t lead and didn’t have the respect of his team. Danny is “a disaster.” Still, Todd is fired, for a total lack of leadership.
The three men leave, and Trump says again that Todd was a terrible leader. He was afraid of everyone, including Danny. Carolyn wisely notes, “Danny was a convenient scapegoat for everybody.”
I think Danny did a terrible job on this task, but I still think Trump made the right decision. The team’s two weaknesses were a weird, unfocused, weak marketing campaign and not having enough people who could sell the product. Of the two, having too few people working the registers was a bigger problem. Even if Danny had come up with an incredible promotion, the team still would have lost because no one wants to go into Burger King at lunch and wait in a long line, especially in New York where you could just walk a few blocks and go to another Burger King. Todd should have had a hand in both the point of sale side and the marketing side, but instead, he seemed to do neither.
In Todd’s final cab ride, he says he was “really, really bummed” that he lost. He says he delegated too much responsibility. He wishes the other candidates luck, and lets any prospective employers watching know that he needs a job!
Next week, the pressure is on as the candidates renovate motels. And for the first time, one of the candidates walks off. Intriguing! Plus, in the boardroom, something prompts Trump to say, “I’ve never been in this position before.” What’s going on? Well I for one am dying to know. This was a great episode. I love the dynamic between the two teams and I can’t wait to see what happens next.
Betsy Wasser is the Associate Editor of Reality News Online. She can be reached with any comments at firstname.lastname@example.org