The Apprentice 3, Episode 3: Wake Up and Smell the Coffeeby Betsy Wasser -- 02/04/2005
Before we start this week’s recap, I have news for all of you Apprentice fans: there are plans in place for a second edition of The Apprentice starring Martha Stewart. I think this has the potential to be, as Martha might say, “a good thing.” Like Donald Trump, Martha Stewart is a smart, savvy, charismatic business person whom a lot of people in business admire (other than the prison part, of course). She has high standards and will undoubtedly be tough on people who don’t meet them. I am concerned that two Apprentice shows will dilute what’s already a good product, but I’m optimistic that the addition of The Apprentice: Martha Stewart will be a positive. For more details, check out my article on the news.
In the suite, Danny is playing the guitar and singing, apparently serenading a bed full of dirty laundry. He says in an interview that he’s glad Verna is still part of the team and is optimistic about Magna’s chances for future events. Everyone is getting along, so he sees only good things ahead. It’s funny when reality TV contestants tempt the Gods of Foreshadowing, isn’t it?
Net Worth, minus Brian, returns to the suite, buzzing with what happened in the boardroom. “Wait ‘til you hear this story,” one of them tells Magna. They explain that Brian didn’t even get a chance to bring two people into the boardroom – Trump fired him right then and there. And, what’s more, as Audrey puts it, “He’s an idiot,” for telling Trump he deserved to be fired. Tara jokes that Brian turned Trump’s famous cobra strike “you’re fired” gesture on himself, then has to tell Michael that he didn’t literally do that. Michael says in an interview that the message was clear: “Trump doesn’t screw around.” And you never know what to expect in the boardroom. Hey, is that more foreshadowing? We’ll have to wait and see.
Danny goes to check on Verna, who is curled up on her bed. He says that she looks a little run down. Verna says that she has inner strength, but that she still doesn’t feel well. A concerned Danny decides to rally the rest of the team together in support of Verna. He tells Verna in front of the group that they all understand if she isn’t feeling well, and that if she needs to take the next task off, so be it. In an interview, Erin says, in essence, “Speak for yourself, guitar boy.” Okay, those weren’t her exact words. Her exact words were, “This clearly isn’t The Apprentice; this is clearly kindergarten.” It’s hard to get her exact words, though, because I am distracted by the fact that her sweater seems to be decorated with a dead rodent of some kind on her shoulders. I wonder if Erin can beat out Paris Hilton in the Worst Dressed category for the 2005 Hall of Shame awards.
Back to the show. Erin asks what the rest of the team is probably wondering: if Verna sits out a task and they lose, then what happens? Danny tries to protest the question – they won’t lose! Erin insists, and Verna doesn’t seem to want to give a straight answer. In an interview, Michael says he doesn’t think there’s really anything wrong with Verna – she looks fine. But Verna says, “I’ve been resting all day long. I don’t think it’s going to get better.” She apologizes to the group and says she thinks she should go. She hugs everyone goodbye, and with that, Verna is gone. Bren says in an interview that he thinks Danny is really the only one disappointed that Verna quit. After all, you have to have a burning desire to win, and obviously, Verna didn’t have it. Michael thinks it’s lousy for the team that Verna left. She just must not be used to a fast-paced environment, he reasons. As the rest of the team prepares dinner, Verna wheels her suitcase out of the suite and off of our TV’s. Bye, Verna. See you at the reunion show.
With that, it’s time for the Trump Lesson of the Week. This week’s lesson: “Lead With Authority.” Trump says that a great leader must think independently and cannot lead by consensus. And hey, in the group of people Trump is talking business to is none other than Bill Rancic. Hi, Bill!
The next morning, Danny calls Rhona and tells her that Verna quit. She agrees to pass the message on to Trump and sends the candidates to Times Square. When everyone arrives there, Trump says that he told them all the challenges would be tough, and that, “Verna couldn’t hack it.” He gives everyone else a chance to quit, and of course no one does. On to the task! The candidates have a budget of $75,000 to come up with a marketing campaign for Nescafe’s Taster’s Choice coffee. Whichever team creates the most buzz (pun apparently not intended) wins.
Magna gets to work, and Bren nominates Danny for project manager, since he has marketing experience and is creative. Everyone agrees, and they start brainstorming. Michael says that everyone loves the “European lifestyle,” and suggests that they use European models, give away Vespas, and so forth. I could be wrong, but I always thought that the European lifestyle in part involved not drinking crappy instant coffee, but then again, I am a coffee snob. Stephanie thinks Michael’s ideas are silly, and that he’s just taking advantage of the fact that, as last week’s project manager, he’s exempt from being fired. Erin tells Michael that his idea of having hot models “alienates women.” Whatever, Erin. Danny is annoyed with Michael’s antics and says, “Eventually, he’s gone.”
And now, for a moment’s digression. Regular readers of my recaps (hello, you gorgeous, intelligent people) may recall that during Season 2’s ice cream challenge, I was pregnant. Watching the candidates make ice cream unleashed some unholy cravings in me. Well, now my son is six weeks old, and I have replaced sleep with coffee. Watching this episode has made me crave it even more than I ordinarily would. I’m willing to bet Jack will make the cravings even stronger by waking me up several times tonight after I stay up to write this recap. And if this digression didn’t make sense to you, we can blame the aforementioned sleep deprivation! In conclusion, mmm, coffee!
At Net Worth, Chris immediately suggests that they raffle off a cash prize. Let’s not get too ahead of ourselves, Chris – we need a project manager first, and Angie volunteers for the job. She wants to capitalize on the “choice” in Taster’s Choice with an all-American, patriotic theme. “You have a choice,” she says. She’s picturing lots of red, white, and blue, a marching band, baton twirlers, and so on. The rest of the team likes the idea. In an interview, Tana says that she thinks Angie will do well as the leader if she can keep her cool. “The day of the task,” Tana says, “she’ll be my mother on Thanksgiving morning. She’ll be insane.” That is hilarious! Tana just gained some points in my book with that remark.
Meanwhile, at Magna, Stephanie is looking for an event planner that they can use to… um, plan their event. As she sends out requests for quotes, Michael is playing with a bunch of dry erase markers. Way to help the team, Michael! Stephanie is worried about how the even is going to go because they don’t have a focus yet. She ducks under the table to call an event planner. The price is $47,000 for everything.
Danny can’t decide if he wants to spend that much money on the event planner. Darren, the planner, says that they need to make a decision, soon, because he can’t hold that quote for too long. He decides to put it to a team vote. Most people seem to be voting yes. Stephanie says no, since they don’t even have an idea yet. Still, she’s outvoted. Danny gets Darren on the phone and says yes. Stephanie is still concerned about how the task is going to go because Danny is so “unorganized.”
At this point, things don’t look too good for Danny, since the Trump Lesson of the Week just told us that you shouldn’t try to lead by consensus. Should Danny go ahead and pack up his guitar and suitcase full of leisure suits? These are my thoughts as we go to commercial.
Break over, Magna is still trying to come up with a big idea. Finally, Bren says he’s noticed that lots of people in NewYork have iPods – maybe they could give those away. Alex likes the idea and says that iPods are so inexpensive that they could give one away every ten minutes. Everyone on the team thinks it’s a good idea… except Michael. Stephanie thinks Michael is not open to any ideas other than his own and calls him childish. She may have a point, because as the team figures out how they need to spend their remaining money, he’s sitting in a corner balancing a tray on his head. Danny says, “Mike, if you need a time out in the corner, let me know.” Michael keeps complaining about the idea until Danny finally tells him to stop talking about it. The two swear at each other for a while and Michael concludes by telling Danny not to cross him.
The next morning, Magna starts moving merchandise to the park where they’re holding the event. Michael is there, but he’s not actually doing any work. Danny yells at him to get off his butt and get to work, and Michael totally freaks out. He threatens to throw Danny out the window, or maybe just slap him. Bren can’t believe it. In an interview, he says that Michael totally overreacted. All Danny did was call him a name, and Michael threatened to hurt him. Bren’s feelings are perhaps even better illustrated by a drawing he has. It reads “Task Three” and features a lovely handbasket and an arrow pointing to hell. Enough said.
Hey, remember that other team? Turns out, Net Worth is still on this show, too! Their event in the park features lots of red white and blue balloons, performers dressed as Uncle Sam, free hot and cold coffee drinks, and a $10,000 giveaway. Chris is screaming at passersby on the street to register for the giveaway, but he’s more menacing and creepy than inviting. My favorite candidate John tells us that they’ve set up the event like a political rally, with people debating hot coffee versus cold coffee. As the event draws to an end, Angie says, “It was brilliant.” She’s happy because the entire team was passionate about the event.
At Magna, Danny says that the key to promoting the Taster’s Choice brand is to get people to stay at the event for as long as possible. To that end, they’re giving away iPods frequently so people will stick around for the drawings. Michael passes out flyers as Danny says in an interview that he stuck him with busywork. A quick pan around the event area shows the team passing out samples of coffee, a guy dressed as a coffee cup, and a mime. Well, who doesn’t love mimes? Michael says that there was nothing special about their event. I have to say, I tend to agree. It’s hard to see what the event planners pulled together for them. There are banners, Taster’s Choice flyers, free samples, and, of course, the mime. Is that really worth $47,000?
Everyone gathers to hear the results. Both Angie and Danny are confident that their teams will win. The Taster’s Choice execs tell us that Magna did a great job of delivering the message, but didn’t have a big, coherent idea. Net Worth, on the other hand, not only gave out samples, but took it to the next level by giving out both hot and cold coffee drinks. They also had a very creative idea. Net Worth wins.
As a perk for winning (pun totally intended), good times are brewing (another one intended, but don’t worry, I think I’m done). After all, Net Worth creamed the competition (hey, turns out I wasn’t done). The team will take a helicopter ride around the city. In the helicopter, the team admires the view. Chris says that it’s important that they all keep having fun. Angie toasts the team.
Back in the suite, Michael says he’s sick over the amount of money they blew for such unimpressive results. He thinks that, without question, Danny failed. Danny, on the other hand, thinks Michael slacked off on the task. Erin says in a very melodramatic interview, “Michael sat back on a comfortable golden bed of exemption and did nothing.” She thinks that by not working hard, Michael showed a real lack of integrity and thinks the team should tell Trump about it. I think she should leave out the part about the golden bed, though. I’ve seen Trump’s apartment, and he’s going to want a golden bed of his very own. Alex and Erin talk to the rest of Magna, and they agree that maybe Trump should make an exception to the exemption rule.
The team heads to the boardroom, and Trump asks Danny what went wrong. Danny says that first, he’d like to talk about Michael’s poor performance. With the exemption, Danny says, Trump gave Michael and gift, and Michael abused that gift. Trump argues that it wasn’t a gift, but that Michael earned it. Erin gives a long speech which basically boils down to, “There’s an exception to every rule.” She says that it’s Trump’s decision, but if she were in his place, she’d fire Michael. Because he didn’t perform, she believes he lacks integrity.
Trump asks whose idea it was to give almost $50,000 to the event planners. Stephanie says that she found the planner, and that they gave a great event. I can only assume that if that’s true, there was a lot we didn’t see on TV. Erin agrees that the planner was worth it, and that without them, they’d have had nothing. Stephanie says that Danny took too long to make decisions.
Trump asks Bren who was responsible for the team’s loss. Bren says that for the loss itself, Danny is responsible, but that he would fire Michael due to his lack of integrity. Erin maintains that they should fire Michael. Trump asks if Michael was so bad that he should violate his trust. Erin answers, “He violated your trust.”
George has a good question: if Michael was so bad, why didn’t Danny just jettison him? Danny says that he handled it “like a gentleman.” Apparently, a gentleman would call Michael names and otherwise just avoid the issue. George says that what Danny did was inadequate, and that he should have told Michael to get lost. Danny says he had to stay focused. Michael thinks that’s ridiculous and says that Danny was lost the entire time.
Trump says, “Danny, it’s time. You’re the team leader… sort of… a little bit.” Ooh, burn! He tells Danny that the task was a disaster, and that it’s time to choose two people to take to the boardroom. Danny asks if he can take Michael and if he could be fired. Trump says he can suggest it if he wants to. Danny picks Michael and Stephanie.
After the three candidates file out, Trump asks Carolyn and George for their feedback. Carolyn says that Danny can’t make decisions, and that bringing Michael was dumb, since he’s exempt. George agrees. Michael was not the reason the team lost and has an exemption besides.
The candidates return. Trump says, “Michael, they do not like you.” He asks if Michael deliberately slacked off, or if he’s just incompetent. Michael says neither – he came up with ideas, but they didn’t take them. He adds that he thought using the event planner was a mistake. Danny says that he took a vote on using the planner. Trump says he can’t believe Danny did that, because you cannot lead by consensus. Danny insists that he’s a good leader. Michael says that just because he’s got some weird clothes and plays the guitar doesn’t make him a good leader or a creative person.
What did Stephanie think of these two guys? She wasn’t impressed by either. Trump asks if they are “two male losers.” Guess he forgot that he’s not doing the gender divide this time around. Stephanie says that it was ridiculous for Danny to take a vote about using the event planner, and that he should have taken ownership of the decision. Danny points out that she found the vendor. That’s true, and I think some people might criticize Stephanie for that. I don’t think that’s fair. It was her job to get bids for an event planner. She did, and I assume that Darren’s was the lowest acceptable bid. Just because she got the pricing for it didn’t mean the team had to buy the service.
Michael says that he did a great job. An incredulous Carolyn asks, “How?” Michael says again that he had great ideas. Trump says Michael did a terrible job. Stephanie, on the other hand, is better than he thought. She found the event planner that the rest of the team seems to think was good, and she just wanted to get to work sooner rather than later. He tells her she has nothing to worry about. Stephanie wisely says thanks and then shuts her mouth. Trump tells Michael and Danny that they should both be ashamed of themselves. Danny was slow to make decisions, paid too much for the event planner, and chose an exempt person to go to the boardroom. That “either shows a lot of imagination or someone who doesn’t want to play by the rules.” Michael is terrible, but he’s exempt. Danny is fired.
After the candidates leave, Trump tells George and Carolyn that it was an interesting decision, but not an easy one. I think it was probably a good one. It looks like the team was indeed disorganized. Danny showed a real weakness as a leader by putting such a major decision to a vote. And for someone who is supposed to be so creative, he really didn’t come up with much of a big idea – in fact, the iPod idea was Bren’s. As for Michael, I agree that he showed a lack of integrity by not working hard while he was exempt. But wouldn’t Trump have also showed a lack of integrity if he’d gone back on his word and changed the rules? Because of the rules, Michael lives to see another task, but I’m sure Trump will remember what happened and will respect Michael much less from here on out.
In his cab ride home, Danny sings about how he had integrity and had a good time. I bet the rest of his team will not miss that guitar one bit. The one good thing I can say is that the word “unbelievable” did not appear in Danny’s final song.
Next week, the candidates must make commercials with our old friend Donny Deutsch. Tempers flair, and someone does something that Trump calls “disgusting.” And he apparently brings both teams back into the boardroom and says that someone did something offensive. Ooh, I can’t wait to see what it is!
Betsy Wasser is the Associate Editor of Reality News Online. No coffee was harmed in the writing of this recap. You can reach Betsy with any comments at firstname.lastname@example.org .