The Apprentice 3, Episode 6: American Graffitiby Betsy Wasser -- 02/25/2005
As always, the candidates are hanging out in the suite, wondering who will be fired, but this time, there doesn’t seem to be a consensus as to who it should be. Erin thinks it should be Michael, because he has no “hustle.” If this were a soccer team, he’d definitely be fired! Alex hopes it’s Stephanie. Not only is she really negative, but he thinks she’ll hold a grudge if she stays. And there’s no point in trying to change her personality, because she is who she is.
Erin is the happy one, because Stephanie and Bren return. Stephanie says that she won’t take anything said in the boardroom personally, and that she appreciates their honesty. Fighting back tears (and wiping her eyes in that careful way so as to not smudge her mascara that I know very well), Stephanie says that she appreciates everyone’s constructive criticism and is there to learn. In an interview, she vows to change, saying, “some people look at honesty as negativity.” Also, some people look at your “Will Work For Shoes” t-shirt and have trouble taking you seriously. She vows to communicate more clearly in the future. Everyone says they respect her for wanting to change her ways and for not holding a grudge.
The next morning, Angie answers the Trump Phone, apparently the person in the suite who most consistently wakes up early enough to get it. She’s excited to learn that they’re meeting Trump in the offices of Sony PlayStation. There, Trump tells them about a new form of urban advertising – graffiti. He doesn’t like it personally, but says some of it is amazing. The candidates will be challenged to create a billboard for PlayStation’s new game, Gran Turismo 4. They’ll choose an artist to paint the ad on a 20 foot tall wall in Harlem. A focus group will provide feedback, and two Sony executives will choose the winner. Once again, Jill is filling in for Carolyn. I miss her!
Net Worth kicks things off by playing the game. My boyfriend/favorite candidate John tries it and admits that he’s not very good at it. Tara says that she will be project manager. She says that she wants the imagery to have a positive spin, showing a transition from “the mean streets to a new, revitalized city.” John asks if social consciousness is really that important to the ad. Audrey agrees – it’s just a racing game. Tara says that she wants the ad to be fun, but also wants to be sensitive to Harlem residents. They meet with the Sony executives, and Tara asks for the target market. It’s men from the ages of 18 to 34, and they want “a hip, urban demographic.” Tara declares, “I am the hip, urban demographic.” She is confident her team will win and admits that she’ll lose “street cred” if she loses to Magna.
Speaking of Magna, they are getting started as well. Alex volunteers to be project manager and says he’s sick of losing. He feels qualified, adding, “I play video games – I went to college.” Bren and Stephanie meet with the Sony execs to learn what they want conveyed while Alex, Erin, and Kendra meet artists. Alex asks all of them what their philosophy is when it comes to their art. He immediately likes Lady Pink, who says she wants her art to be fun and lively.
Net Worth is meeting with artists, too. John says that they have three main criteria – have they played the game, do they have a great portfolio, and can they work fast? Ernie fits the bill. Tara says that her vision is to show the mean streets with scowling buildings, a car coming through, and maybe a guy with an Afro waving it on.
Magna can’t believe how big the wall is that they’ll be working on. They’re envisioning a tricked out car breaking through a New York skyline background, with jungle vines at the bottom. As they discuss this, Stephanie and Bren return from their meeting with Sony. Stephanie tells them that Sony wants a hip urban look to broaden their demographic. Bren asks why they’re painting plants. Erin tells him that it’s to show the “urban jungle” and also to fill space. Yeah, that’s compelling. Stephanie questions if that’s hip and urban. She and Bren agree that it isn’t hip hop. Alex admits that he really doesn’t know what is hip hop – he’s just not familiar with it. In an interview, Stephanie says that Alex needs to choose a concept fast, because they’re running out of time.
It’s time for the Trump Lesson of the Week! This week: “Shut up and listen.” Trump says that he doesn’t always do what other people tell him to do, but that if he listens to what they have to say, he might learn something. And now for the Betsy Lesson of the Week. Thanks to all of the great readers who emailed me to tell me they enjoy the Betsy Lesson of the Week, and to those readers who congratulated me on my new baby. For you people, I offer a special crossover baby-related Betsy Lesson. This week’s lesson: Baby socks are adorable because they’re so tiny, but it also makes it hard to keep track of them in the laundry. Put all of the little socks in a mesh lingerie bag. They’ll all get clean, and you won’t lose any in the dryer.
On with the show! Jill visits Net Worth and admires the progress so far. Tara explains that they’re showing the transition from the old buildings in Harlem to the new brownstones. Jill says it’s good for the neighborhood, but is it good for Sony? Tara says, “these people live with it,” so they should be respectful. It’s a good point, but doesn’t really answer Jill’s question. Craig says in an interview that the game doesn’t show any “mean streets,” and that Tara is being selfish, choosing to put forth her own agenda instead of considering the client or the customer.
Tara, obviously not knowing how little Craig thinks of her vision, asks him to be in charge of the painting. He’ll assist Ernie and assign tasks. Almost immediately, Craig clashes with Mike DeGeorge’s TV girlfriend Audrey. Audrey feels like he’s talking down to her, like she’s one of his kids. Craig tells Tara that he will not deal with Audrey’s attitude. Audrey tells Tara how bossy he is. Tara agrees that he can be abrasive, but says he’s in charge. She wants one line of communication with the artist. In an interview, Tara says that Audrey has had the most conflict with different people on the task, and that’s telling. If you clash with one person, then maybe it’s the other person. If it’s everybody, Tara says, “That’s you.” Good point.
It’s late at night, and Magna still doesn’t have a concept for the ad. Alex is having everyone work on the background. He admits that his team is a little lost in trying to come up with a hip, urban ad. Erin “looks like she’s a Barbie doll college girl/Hooter’s waitress.” Bren is a country club lawyer. Stephanie’s daddy had a 45 million dollar Gulf Stream jet (I’d like to learn more about that). And Kendra is doing “monologues for dummies.” Wait, there’s a Kendra on this show? Anyway, since Magna is so far from the target demographic, Alex decides to talk to some locals to see what ideas they have. One guy suggests they show money falling from the sky, and all of them introduce Alex to the terms “mad props” and “bling bling.” Alex, by the way, sounds about as comfortable saying “mad props” and “bling bling” as… well… I do. Anyway, he decides to listen to the guys and incorporate those ideas into the ad. Bren suggests showing a fist wearing a PS2 ring. Alex says that it will be “tight.” Please don’t say that, Alex. Still, he’s confident they’ll win.
The next morning, Tara has her team add the tagline “Tear It Up.” Then, Trump arrives “Trump style” in his limo to check out the work. Tara introduces him to the artist, Trump calls it “very good,” then leaves. Tara is overjoyed. Next, he drives over to Magna’s wall, but just slows down and looks at it, not bothering to get out of the car. He calls it “interesting” and heads back to the office. Alex notices this and is really worried. Does Magna look like losers? He says in addition to working hard, he threw out some prayers because “that never hurts.”
The Sony execs arrive at Net Worth, and Tara explains the concept to them. Chris is not happy with her presentation, since she gives no credit to the team – everything is “I.” He also thinks that she’s more concerned with the art than with creating an effective ad. The focus group arrives to look at the ad, and Tana is confident that they’ll win. Oh, hi Tana! Hadn’t heard much from you this week.
Next, the Sony guys go to Magna. Their ad shows the highway, the desert, the New York skyline, and a fist full of cash. Alex awkwardly says that Gran Turismo players love the mad props. When the focus group shows up, Alex gets nervous. He thinks the execs liked the ad, but will the focus group?
The Sony execs meet with Trump in the boardroom as the candidates mill around outside. They tell Trump that they liked the art for both billboards, but that they’re not running an art contest. Time ticks by, the candidates look nervous, and one of the Sony guys tells Trump that their decision was clear-cut. Trump sends the candidates in and shows them the reactions of members of the focus group. First up is Magna. They liked the concept, liked that they showed different scenery, and thought that the money in the fist was cool. One woman appreciates that they showed the game was rated E for Everyone, so she’d buy it for her son. As for Net Worth, the consensus from the focus group is that it’s a nice mural, but not a strong ad. One guy says that it shows a stereotypical view of Harlem, which must have really upset Tara. Trump says that Net Worth created a nice piece of art, but lacked salesmanship. Magna wins – finally. For their reward, they’ll meet with a photographer whose name I have no idea how to spell, and thanks loads for never showing it in captions, NBC. Anyway, he’s a well-known photographer and will take portraits of all of the members of Magna.
After everyone leaves the boardroom, Tara lingers in the hallway outside of the suite. She wants to be alone to analyze the task and what went wrong “because I don’t believe I own this.” That sounds like a tough argument to make, considering that it was 100% her vision from the beginning and that she didn’t listen to the feedback she got from John, Audrey, and Sony.
Reward time. Bren talks to some leggy models about why he wears bow ties. Alex finds it amusing that Bren, who looks like “a stunt double for Orville Redenbacher,” is surrounded by beautiful models. Everyone gets dolled up for their photos, and Trump joins them. Alex says it was a weird contrast to Harlem. He loves getting a taste of Trump’s lifestyle. Back in the suite, the candidates hang up their new portraits.
Net Worth does the post-mortem. Tara thinks they missed the mark. Audrey says that she told Tara there were problems with the ad, specifically that they didn’t show any of the other scenes in the game. Tara asks, “Why didn’t you say something?” She’s mad because Audrey didn’t hesitate to come to her with her problems with Craig, yet didn’t bother to share these concerns with her. Next, Tara goes to complain to John about Audrey not telling her about the additional scenes. John says, “I knew there was other stuff.” Tara can’t believe he didn’t tell her either. John says that New York is one of the scenes, so he just assumed that was the one she wanted to show.
Tara says she’s planning to take Audrey and John to the boardroom for “withholding information. As she talks about her plans to take them down, we watch Audrey painting her toenails and John calmly listening to music. They don’t seem worried.
In the boardroom, Trump asks Tara what went wrong. She says she was missing key information, and that Audrey and John held out on her. John says he assumed she knew there were other scenes, and that the design they used did show one of the scenes from the game. Audrey claims that she made it very clear to Tara that her concept missed part of the game. George points out that Audrey and Tara are giving conflicting stories, so one of them must be lying. Tara then admits that she thought Audrey was talking about version 3. Audrey says that since version 4 isn’t out yet, she’d have no way of knowing exactly what scenes are in it. Tara again complains that Audrey would come to her with her Craig issues, but not with helpful information to win the task.
And what are those issues with Craig? Audrey thinks he speaks in a “demeaningful” way. Craig says he only addressed Audrey one time in the whole task, and that it was when he was in charge of the painting. Audrey says she didn’t know until after the fact that Craig was in charge. Craig pins that on Tara – she should have told everyone.
George asks who came up with the concept, and Tara claims it. She says that her concept did change after they met with Sony. George says that must mean she had a concept in mind before meeting with the client – shouldn’t she have talked to them first? And where did she come up with the “Tear It Up” tagline? Tara says, “That was a hip hop allusion.” Jill thinks that’s all well and good, but that it has nothing to do with the game.
Tara says she thought the ad could both advertise the game and reach out to the community. Jill doesn’t think so, saying, “It’s a Sony ad.” Audrey says that Tara put her desire to reach out to the community overshadowed her desire to sell video games.
Chris says he’d fire Audrey, who is the weakest link. John would fire Audrey because overall Tara is a better candidate. Audrey says she is “so furious” that she’s been called the weakest player. Craig would fire Tara because she was responsible for the concept. Angie and Tana got sucked into an alternate dimension and won’t be telling us who they’d fire. Tara complains that she can’t be responsible for thinking of absolutely everything. Trump agrees, but says she was in charge. Tara chooses Audrey for the boardroom – no surprise there – and Craig. Interesting.
The candidates leave Trump and the viceroys to talk things over. All three of them wonder why Tara picked Craig. Jill thinks it’s personal, since Craig said he’d fire her. Trump sends the candidates back in.
Craig pulls out Tara and Audrey’s chairs for them, and Trump says he’s a nice guy – why choose him? Tara says he was her right-hand person, and his fight with Audrey was a distraction. Audrey says she felt belittled by Craig. Craig then goes on a long tangent about how Audrey is recently married (Trump declares two months “a long time”), makes more money than her husband, and loves calling the shots.
But frankly, it doesn’t matter. Trump says that Tara had her concept before she even met with Sony, owned it throughout the process, and was responsible for it. Tara says it was a miscalculation, and Trump says she just didn’t get the marketing. Tara is fired.
This firing made absolute sense to me. I thought as a piece of art, Net Worth’s ad was better, but as the Sony execs said, this isn’t an art contest. Tara might not have known that Gran Turismo has scenes other than New York, but honestly, if I had been on her team, I would have just assumed that she wanted to show New York because it was a New York ad. And John and Audrey did try to question the concept, but Tara wouldn’t hear it. The concept was wrong, it was Tara’s every step of the way, and she is absolutely the one most responsible for their loss.
In her cab ride home, Tara says that she liked her ad better. Audrey is talented, but lacks maturity. And she really thinks her team should have helped her out more – she can’t be expected to do everything.
Next week, the candidates dress as clowns. The jokes are going to be so easy, people. A secret comes out in the boardroom. And Audrey has a meltdown. Awesome.
Betsy Wasser is the Associate Editor of Reality News Online and learns different Betsy Lessons every day. You can reach her with any comments at email@example.com .