The Apprentice 3, Episode 2: Your Ass Doesn’t Know the Differenceby Betsy Wasser -- 01/28/2005
As usual, the candidates are gathered in the suite, speculating as to who got fired. Bren predicts that, in the boardroom, Danny spent more time defending himself than Todd did. He thinks Danny is a loose cannon, not the kind of person Trump wants working for him. Therefore, concludes Bren, Danny will be the one sent home. Silly Bren obviously didn’t watch the first two seasons of the show, or he’d know that Trump always indulges the crazies for a few episodes, wondering if maybe they’ll be crazy yet brilliant.
Alex and Danny return to the suite, and there are hugs all around. Danny says in an interview that he believes his team – and Donald Trump – have underestimated him. Sure, Trump called him a disaster, but he thinks Trump likes the fact that he’s different. Well, that’s quite a spin to put on being called a disaster, isn’t it? Danny realizes that now, he really has to prove himself.
The next morning, the Trump Phone rings. The candidates are to meet Trump in front of Trump International. Rhona warns them not to be late, because Trump has a busy morning. The candidates are not late, so that line really served no purpose, except maybe to remind us that Donald Trump is very busy and important. The busy and important Trump, flanked by George and Carolyn, greets the candidates. He notices that Danny is wearing a very nice suit, which appears to not only not be a primary color, but also made of natural fibers. That’s a good step towards being taken seriously, Danny – well done. Now can we talk about your haircut, and how you probably shouldn’t use a kid’s safety scissors to cut it yourself? Anyway, Trump tells us that the hotel they’re standing in front of was ranked by the New York Post as the best hotel in New York. He’s proud of that, because he renovated it. Similarly, the candidates will also be renovating motels this week. Each team will have $20,000 to renovate and refurbish motels on the New Jersey shore. When the renovations are over, they’ll welcome their first customers. The customers will fill out surveys on their stays, and the team with the highest score wins. John, who looks hot in his Elvis sunglasses, is exempt should his team lose.
Brian volunteers to be the project manager for Net Worth. He says that no one had motel expertise, and he figures since he has a background in real estate, has sold motels, and is from New Jersey, he’s the best bet. In the van to the motel, he is full of ideas, including doing a tie-in promotion with a local amusement park. Kristen is not happy that Brian is in charge. In an interview, she says that she doesn’t like him and calls him “a problem child.” As Brian talks about setting up a shoeshine stand for Craig (since that’s what he did before the show), Kristen says in a voiceover that Brian is very insecure, and she didn’t question his leadership or anything he said because she knew it would start a fight. Remember those words for later, people.
They arrive at the motel, and Tana continues her practice of tap dancing on my last nerve by squealing how cute the place is. Angie thinks the outside looks great. The inside, however, is not so great. The rooms smell bad, have ugly wood paneling, missing ceiling tiles, nasty carpeting, and a mildew problem. Craig jokes that all he needs to know is where to set up his shoeshine stand and they’ll have this sucker won.
Audrey makes some phone calls and learns that for $700, they can get a dumpster and hire people to remove all of the junk from the rooms. Kristen thinks they should make a budget first, because they shouldn’t make any rash decisions about money. Brian disagrees. He thinks the dumpster is a great idea and tells Audrey to go ahead and do it. Angie is miffed and says petulantly, “I don’t do business that way, but that’s fine.” Brian tells her that they’re ordering the dumpster, so she should just get over it and quit shooting her mouth off. Kristen continues to make passive-aggressive remarks about how she doesn’t do business that way, but whatever. Brian says in an interview that he is the project manager, so his team needs to respect that.
Speaking of respect, it’s time for the Trump Lesson of the Week: “Respect Comes From Winning.” If you win, people will respect you. Next week’s Trump Lesson: Don’t Stick Beans Up Your Nose.
Magna drives to their hotel. They think theirs is cute, too. Michael is the project manager because he has worked as a real estate developer and knows how to complete projects quickly. As they walk through the rooms, he starts a checklist for what needs to be done, including tasks like getting rid of the mold and getting the giant bugs out of the bathroom. Lovely. Verna starts to talk to Michael about her responsibilities, which are accounting and customer service. Michael says that isn’t his priority right now; first they need to renovate the rooms. She disagrees. Customer service is one of the things they’ll be evaluated on, so they need to get it right. In an interview, she says that Michael is too focused on the look and design of the rooms and not interested enough in how they’ll treat their guests. She follows him around the motel, arguing about how important customer service is.
I think both Verna and Michael are right. If they’re going to be evaluated on customer service, then that aspect of the challenge can’t be ignored. But on the other hand, who cares about Verna’s stupid welcome packages if there aren’t any beds in the rooms. Michael should have told Verna what her budget was and asked her to come up with some ideas and get back to him. That way she’d have been happy, the team would have had a plan for customer service, and Michael would have been able to focus on the renovations.
Net Worth starts making a list of things that need to be done. Chris feels confident because he has a background in renovations. The women go to Target, which is perhaps my favorite store, to buy pillows and blankets. I love Target! Meanwhile, Brian negotiates with the contractors. He tells us in an interview, “I think my performance in this task on negotiating alone is an education for all my teammates.” The sheer arrogance of that statement made me think, “This guy is going to get fired this week.” Let’s see if I’m right, shall we? Craig comes in and is surprised to learn that among the things Brian negotiated was to replace a bunch of toilets. They had been planning on just getting new seats. And Craig, John, and Chris had done an inventory of what needed to be replaced, and toilets were not on the list. Brian ignores him. Craig says it’s a ridiculous waste of money to buy new toilets so that they all look the same, because who is going to know?
At Target, Tana holds up a bath mat and squeals about how cute it is. She better snatch that thing up fast before Erin from the other team comes by and wears it as a shirt. They get a call from Brian and learn about the new toilets. Audrey tries to argue that they don’t need new toilets, just seats. Brian says it’s a done deal, so they all might as well get used to it. Audrey declares, “If we lose this task, it will be because Brian made the decision to throw away 14 toilets that people @#$% in.” She continues swearing about it, then tells us, “Your ass doesn’t know the difference,” between a cheap toilet and an expensive one. Thank you, Audrey, for giving me the title to this recap.
At Magna, Danny not only paints a wall, but sings about how he’s painting. He is slightly less annoying because, with a paint roller in his hand, he can’t also play his guitar. At 3:13 in the morning, Michael finds Verna and asks her to help paint. She tells him that she’s focused on staffing, but he insists that the painting is more important. In an interview, Michael says that he thinks she wanted to handle accounting and customer service because they’re less physically demanding jobs. He tells her to forget about the budget and to help them paint. She does, though she looks very awkward with the brush and still has her purse slung over her shoulder. She keeps talking about customer service, and Michael basically tells her to shut up and paint. The two of them argue about who is working the hardest. Bren notes that there is a lot of friction between them. I’m glad he’s there to tell us, because I hadn’t noticed.
Meanwhile, at Net Worth, John and Brian have a late night conversation about how things are going. Brian says that he has a naturally loud voice, so people think he’s yelling or talking down to them all the team. Well, if it happens all the time, Brian, maybe you should learn from it. John suggests that he just soften his tone a little bit. Well put, John. I’m liking you more and more. Brian admits that he often says the wrong thing. John tells him, “Mr. Trump is never going to hire a rash guy who rubs people the wrong way.” Brian tells John that he’s wrong – he and Trump are both up-front guys who tell it like it is. “And if they don’t like it,” Brian says, “they can go frig themselves.” He really did say “frig,” people. And yes, Brian, but the difference between you and Donald Trump is that he is Donald Trump and you are just some guy.
Brian says in an interview that he is who he is, so people should just deal with it. He is the project manager and needs to be the decision maker. He tells John that he is still in project manager mode from the last task. John says, “If you think that, you are a silly little man.” It’s official: I love John. John tells Brian that it’s 5:30 in the morning, he’s been working like crazy, and he is the only member of the team who is trying to help Brian be a better leader. You rock, John. In an interview, my hero John says that Brian doesn’t think he needs any help or any advice from anybody, and that’s just not true. He concludes by telling Brian, “You screwed the poodle today,” and adds that Brian can’t do the task alone and he won’t win with his attitude.
Things are no more peaceful the next morning. Brian tells Kristen that with their current numbers, they can’t afford the beds she was planning to buy. Yeah, I’d say that’s a problem. Kristen says it’s all his fault because he blew so much money on toilets and sinks. Does anyone else really want to see these toilets, because I bet they’re nice. Maybe it’s just me. Kristen says she’ll return some things so she can get the beds. And furthermore, she wanted to talk to Brian about the budget the day before, but he refused. They argue about whether or not that’s true. Kristen says that she’s going to take control of the budget and leave Brian out of it. He demands that she sit down, and she ignores him. She says he’s a terrible leader, everyone thinks so, and that everyone will agree that he should be fired if they lose. In an interview, Tara says that fighting is insidious, unprofessional, and keeps them from getting work done. She doesn’t think her team realizes how damaging it can be. Obviously not, because Brian and Kristen are still at it. She yells that no one respects him. He screams at her to bring him the money, and she screams back that he can get it himself.
The first guests are due to arrive at Magna’s motel any minute, and they’re still unloading furniture, there’s garbage outside, and everything smells like paint. Alex thinks they’re going to lose. Carolyn checks things out and declares the place to be in shambles: the rooms smell bad, some of them don’t have beds, there are scary electrical outlets hanging from the walls, and the bathrooms are dirty.” She says simply, “I don’t think they’re going to do very well.”
George meets Brian at Net Worth’s motel and asks where his team is. Brian says, “Right now, I am the team.” He tells George that everyone is mad at him, so he’s doing everything himself. Yep, that’s the way to impress George with your leadership! He then tells George that they’re not going to replace the carpeting because there’s not enough money. He learned that just the night before. George still doesn’t look impressed.
Carolyn sits down on one of the mattresses at Motel Magna and it makes a crunching noise. She pulls back the sheets and figures out that it’s because the plastic is still on the mattresses. Guess they didn’t teach those geniuses that in college. Carolyn figures if Magna is going to win, it’ll be because of customer service.
Verna and Danny are hard at work providing just that. Verna is very friendly and charming to the guests as they check in, and Danny walks all of them to their rooms. As he does so, he starts telling everyone to meet on the veranda at 8:00 for a get-together. Despite the fact that the team didn’t really have anything planned for a party, it seems to go smashingly. Stephanie says they all got to know the guests, and that it was like a big family reunion. Danny thinks this is where their college degrees come in handy, because, “a lot of us spent time blowing off class to go party.” I do believe there may be some truth to that. But Verna is not part of the party. She is at the front desk and looks miserable. She says that she’s in a bad mood and is tired. She feels like she’s about to collapse.
At Net Worth, a very perky Tana gives her guests gift bags, reminds them of the complimentary breakfast, and asks them to call if they’d like any ironing done. Her cheeriness is a stark contrast to Kristen and Brian, who are still arguing about the budget. Angie reminds them gently that their guests are watching them, but the two carry on anyway. Audrey also tells them to stop. The two of them need some cash to get dinner for everyone, and they ask Kristen and Brian to stop fighting where the guests can see and hear them. The women get Kristen to get in the van with them. Audrey says in an interview that Kristen is really loud and obnoxious. In the van, Kristen says, “I have a loud voice, Audrey.” Audrey and Angie quietly remind her that the van doors are not closed, so the guests can still hear her. Kristen says they can’t, apparently under the impression that the van encloses her in a soundproof bubble. Angie very nicely asks Kristen for just a few minutes of quiet. Kristen says she shouldn’t talk to her that way. Angie tries another tactic: “Honey, shut the $#%^ up. How about I talk to you that way?” Hee! That wasn’t professional, but I don’t blame Angie one bit. Kristen stalks off. Angie and Audrey realize they didn’t get any money, but at least they got some quiet.
Meanwhile, Verna declares that she is exhausted. She hasn’t slept, she hasn’t eaten, she’s worn down, blah, blah, blah. Shut up and make yourself a cup of coffee, Verna. The next morning, two guests drop of their key at the front desk, noticing a sleeping Bren on the lobby sofa. He wakes up and asks if he can get them anything. They’d love some coffee, so he goes to find them some. Bren says that Verna was supposed to arrange for coffee and doughnuts for the guests (which, by the way, sounds really good to me right now). He finds her, and she tells him that she’s exhausted and is no longer part of the team. Bren doesn’t have time to deal with whatever she’s upset about and instead heads off to get the coffee and doughnuts. Good move, Bren. He says he’ll talk to Michael about the situation later. Verna starts packing a suitcase. Interesting. Bren says in an interview that not having the coffee and doughnuts was potentially really bad, since it made a bad final impression on the guests who were about to fill out the surveys. Verna, dragging her suitcase, takes off, declaring that she needs to escape from all of the pressure.
At the other hotel, Tana asks the guests how their stay was and gets some pretty bad feedback. She offers them breakfast, figuring that maybe a full tummy will put them in a better mood when they fill out the surveys.
In Magna land, Danny tells Carolyn that Verna cracked under the pressure and left. Erin is shocked, because Verna never told anyone she was leaving – she just took off. Carolyn hops into her car and finds Verna wandering the streets aimlessly. Good solution! Carolyn walks with Verna and asks her how she’s doing and offers to listen if she needs to talk. Carolyn is awesome. Verna just silently walks with Carolyn, which is kind of creepy.
Erin isn’t too sympathetic. She figures Verna had an easy job. Bren says that the whole situation is stressful. Alex agrees, but to just quit really hurt the team. Bren tells them that Verna believed Michael was out to get her. Carolyn delivers Verna back to the motel. Verna says in an interview that she lost control of herself because she didn’t feel like she was in control of her team. She apologizes to Michael and says that if they lose, she’ll quit rather than having someone else get fired. I think that’s a fine idea, though probably irrelevant because if Magna loses, I don’t doubt Trump will fire her. Michael shares a quote from Martin Luther King about how the true measure of a person is how they act when they’re down, not when they’re up. That’s a nice sentiment, but probably not appropriate here, since we learned that when Verna is down, she quits.
Verna says in an interview that the people on her team are wonderful, and she can learn a lot from them. We’ll see how wonderful they are after a few more trips to the boardroom. Danny says in an interview that it took a lot of character for Verna to come back. Erin hugs Verna, but in an interview says that Verna blew the customer service for them and sabotaged the team. But once again, whatever Erin says is completely overshadowed. Her statements are in part overshadowed by the fact that last week, she was in tears at the idea of someone getting fired, so she’s not exactly cool under pressure either. And of course, she’s really overshadowed by whatever the hell it is she’s wearing. It seems to be a poncho with a print that reminds me very much of a manhole cover.
Boardroom. Trump is in a tuxedo and tells Danny that formalwear is actually overstepping things. Danny takes it well and says, “I’m paying attention.” Verna tells Trump that she’s used to pressure, but not to having no food or sleep. The rest of the team seemed to get just as little sleep as Verna did, and if she didn’t eat, whose fault is that? I’m just not feeling the sympathy. Trump congratulates her, though, for coming back.
Now for the results. We first see how the rooms are transformed. Both teams did a nice enough job, especially considering the time constraints and that they didn’t have Amy-Wynn Pastor to help them. Next, Carolyn and George read the evaluations, starting with Net Worth. The free newspaper was nice, the employees were good “but loud,” the carpeting was dirty, the rooms were a disaster, but they had the most beautiful toilets in the world. Except I made up that last part. Their score is 2.92 out of five. Next, Magna was a lot of fun, the staff was great, and the rooms were typical for a Jersey shore motel room. They scored 3.96 out of five. Magna wins!
I think Danny went a long way towards redeeming himself on this task. I think customer service was how Magna pulled ahead, because other than not having nasty carpeting, Magna’s rooms were no nicer than Net Worth’s, at least from what we saw. Customer service must have made the difference. Danny was part of the customer service team. The part, I might add, that didn’t check out midway through the task. More importantly, the party seems to have generated a lot of good will from the guests, and that was Danny’s idea. Well done this time around, I’d say.
Magna’s reward is a cruise on Steve Forbes’s yacht. The team meets Steve there and dines on champagne and lobster. Over dinner, he tells them that customer service is the key to success. Danny notices that Verna is still a little shaken up – she doesn’t eat much dinner and looks a little seasick. On the deck, the candidates look at the Statue of Liberty, and Kendra talks about how Steve Forbes symbolizes the opportunities that are available in America. Steve takes off in a helicopter before I can figure out how to make a joke about the flat tax. And just when we thought we could avoid it, Magna gives a chant of “Unbelievable!”
Did anyone else notice that all of the candidates seem to be wearing little pins? What’s up with that? Maybe they’re all pledging a fraternity.
In the suite, Net Worth talks about the upcoming boardroom. John tells Brian that if he blames others, he’s going to look foolish, since he was in charge. Brian says that’s not true – he did manage the team, by hiring contractors who would actually do what he said. His team didn’t cooperate and everyone refused to listen to him. Way to miss John’s point, Brian, because that’s exactly what John said would not impress Trump. The two of them argue some more, and John finally walks away. In an interview, he says that Brian has a really abrasive demeanor, and if the team ever needs to make a good impression on a client or vendor, Brian could scuttle them.
In the boardroom, I assume Carolyn and George are dressed for the same formal event as Trump is. George’s silver tie is cool, but Carolyn looks gorgeous in a simple black dress and dangly earrings. But I digress. John wisely chooses not to waive his exemption. Brian says that they lost because his team did not cooperate. Just as my man John predicted, Trump asks Brian if that wasn’t his fault, since he was in charge. Brian agrees that it was, he takes responsibility. Trump asks if he should fire Brian, and Brian says he should. Well, this could make for the shortest boardroom ever, Trump says. Does everyone else agree?
Kristen, of course, does, and says that Brian had no organization, and didn’t make a budget. Trump says Kristen gave him a hard time, and Angie nods vigorously at that. Shouldn’t Kristen listen to her project manager? Kristen says that she didn’t respect Brian. Brian claims that he wanted to talk to Kristen about the budget, but that she wanted to go to Target instead. Kristen says that’s not true. Carolyn asks Brian if he had a budget, and he says he did. George says that knowing they had $20,000 to spend doesn’t count as a budget, so Brian admits that he didn’t have one. There wasn’t enough time. George wants to know if he had a timeline. Brian says he did, but it got messed up. Further questioning from George reveals that Brian didn’t have a timeline in the first place.
Audrey says that Brian was a bad leader, and that if he didn’t like the way Kristen was handling the money, he should have had her step aside and given the job to someone else. Brian goes off on a long tangent about how he never told anyone to go $%@^ themselves and says that was the first time he cursed. Carolyn says, “I would suggest you don’t do it in this boardroom.” John says that Brian has sworn while on the task, such as when the two of them were arguing. Not to mention the fact that Brian dropped the f-bomb over dinner with Trump after the last challenge.
John goes on to say that Brian is abrasive and tends to rub people the wrong way. Brian maintains that no one else on the team could have done better. Trump points out that buying new toilets and not new carpeting was a bad decision and was Brian’s. Craig says that Brian’s leadership was lacking and that he no longer respects him. Trump also no longer respects Brian. Part of being a good leader is convincing your team that you’re great, and Brian certainly did not.
Chris says that Brian was not organized, then out of nowhere, he starts yelling about how he never told anyone that he had hands-on experience at refurbishing. Angie says that she’d fire Chris over Brian, since Brian has more leadership potential.
Trump is shocked at the state of the team. Brian says he never gave up. Carolyn can’t believe he’d say that, since everyone just saw him say that Trump should fire him. Trump says at this point, the boardroom is really just an exercise for them. To the surprise of no one, Brian is fired.
After the candidates leave, Trump says that Brian was arrogant and not smart. Carolyn says that it was a waste of their time. This was an incredibly easy decision. And seeing how nastily this team can fight, I am all the more impressed by how well John managed all of them in the first task. I’m telling you, people, keep an eye on John. He’s going to do well.
In his cab ride home, Brian thanks Trump for the opportunity and says he enjoyed the dinner. He says he was a great negotiator and believes he’ll cross paths with Trump again. I’m sure that if Trump needs to get a plastic Viking hat for a good price, he’ll call Brian. Brian then says he wishes his team luck, that they’ll need it. That’s all he has to say, and while the rest of the credits roll, Brian says nothing and stubbornly refuses to look at the camera.
Next week, one candidate will quit. The narrator says we shouldn’t make any assumptions… which made me assume that it won’t be Verna. We shall see!
Betsy Wasser is the Associate Editor of Reality News Online. She can be reached with any comments at firstname.lastname@example.org