The Apprentice 4, Episode 7 Performance Reviewsby Brian Towers -- 11/08/2005
This series of articles primarily focuses on the business actions of each player on The Apprentice. Toward that end, I’ll be giving a capsulated performance review of each applicant.
Excel: I was surprised to learn that Excel’s margin of victory was a mere 0.9 out of ten. Perhaps their topic wasn’t as “exciting” as sex, but it was a good one, and the participants seemed to have had fun with the third segment. I must assume the audience didn’t find the lecture as informative or interesting as Randal had hoped.
Brian: Brian wasn’t extremely visible this week. He knew that to avoid boring their audience, they needed a “bigger, bigger” idea. Brian gets a SATISFACTORY rating.
Marshawn: Marshawn identified “negotiating and networking” as two possible topics. Even though they weren’t selected, these were good choices. Her superior verbal presentation skills were also very evident. Marshawn gets the hybrid VERY GOOD rating this week.
Randal: Randal was selected to change teams for the second time, showing he has a ton of respect from his peers. He was shown further respect in the boardroom when his peers quickly gave him immunity for next week.
I like the fact that Randal recognized an opportunity and stepped up to be the PM this week. Whether that is superior game play or superior work ethic is immaterial, it was just a superior thing to do.
Randal identified the lecture topic, something they could all comfortably speak about. The layout of the whole event was well structured and quite professional, and you’d never know this wasn’t a regular Learning Annex presentation if it wasn’t for all the TV cameras.
He also delivered a key part of the lecture, and in an engaging, skillful and polished manner. Randal is undefeated as PM and in my eyes, the one most likely to win. Besides earning an exemption from his teammates, Randal also earns the EXCELLENT rating this week from me.
Rebecca: Rebecca expressed concern that maybe “How To Stand out” wasn’t the greatest topic. However, she expressed herself about as clearly as Markus! Finishing by saying “We’re so screwed” and slamming her head on the table hardly inspires confidence or implies that she supports her team. This week, her rating is NEEDS IMPROVEMENT.
Capital Edge: After Randal left them, my first impression was, “These guys are in trouble; most of the weakest competitors are Capital Edge people.” And they didn’t improve my opinion of them through this week’s efforts. I think they were lucky their audience scored them so generously, because it didn’t seem nearly that close to me.
Alla: Alla was given charge of the brainstorming session, and ran it well. She clearly expressed her displeasure with Markus, who decided not to play by her rules. She also came up with their eventual topic that, if handled correctly, might have been a winner. Before they went into the boardroom Alla gave Adam some good feedback on how he should have focused his defense. Amusingly, it was to focus on Clay, not Markus, but it was still good information and showed that Alla’s advice is sought after by her peers.
In the boardroom, she publicly identified Markus’s blather as the nonsense it was. She also tried twice to bring up Clay’s other faux pas, but Adam talked over her and she wisely let it go. I’ll assign her a rating of GOOD.
Adam: Adam volunteered to be the Project Manager this week. However, he gets no real credit for that, as everyone else has done it already. Clearly the best thing Adam did this week was to make a repeated effort to pull Markus aside and attempt to get him back on point. I also liked the way he started out the lecture by popping out of the audience. Right off the top, he had his audience’s attention.
However, the event was badly planned, had little content (according to Carolyn), was incompletely scripted, and unprofessional in tone. It’s one thing to be “less structured” and another to have a free-for-all and it’s no surprise to me that it spiraled out of control.
Right off the top, Adam agreed to a topic he was uncomfortable with, and when brainstorming the agenda, he focused on the “safe” items only. It would have made for a boring, disappointing lecture.
He repeatedly used the phrase “tight-assed Jew” in the boardroom. That was not exactly what Clay had said. He said, “shy, tight, Jewish boy.” If you’re going to sling that around, you do need to be sure of the quote. To his credit, he did a good job of recovering from that in front of everyone.
Bottom line, the class didn’t have the necessary structure to focus on, and when Clay felt the need to fill some dead air, the worst possible things resulted. I don’t see him being any better as PM next time out, but I’m feeling generous so I’ll assign him a rating of UNSATISFACTORY instead of the probably more appropriate UNACCEPTIBLE. Adam is lucky Trump fired four people last episode and has probably limited himself to one-a-week now, or he might well have been in that taxicab along with Markus.
Clay: Again, it was an up and down week for Clay. I am impressed that Clay worked more positively with the group this week, and seemed to exhibit more traditional listening skills. I had real doubts he could do so after the previous couple of episodes – so, well done. When brainstorming, Clay knew the importance of stressing ethics – also good.
I also think that he did a pretty decent job of connecting with the audience… initially. But when he started to get into his questionable areas, there was visible squirming by the class attendees. Felisha correctly identified himself as “The King of Awkward Moments.” I didn’t have real problems with his “gay” segment, though it came across as very unprepared. The other comment, however, was inappropriate. It’s 2005, are we not past the point where race and religion are topics for public humor? Remember, back in Season 2, anti-Semitic comments cost Jen C. her chance (and, her real job).
Clay is a loose cannon, and like Sam from season one, has no place in the Trump organization. Clay retains his UNACCEPTIBLE rating.
Felisha: We didn’t have a lot of Felisha moments this week. When Adam was shying away from the tougher topics, she knew that they had to tackle harassment, but handle it with class, and made sure that was part of the agenda. In the boardroom she summed up the group’s intentions very well. I’ll give her a SATISFACTORY rating.
Markus: Markus get the UNACCEPTIBLE rating. I have no doubt that he is intelligent, but he has a lot of trouble verbalizing his concepts and the result is verbal diarrhea. Trump’s lesson of the week was “Get To The Point,” and it sure applies to Markus.
He had lesser faults. His fumbling with a yoyo in the background during Alla’s presentation was immature and unsupportive. But what is more troubling is that when Alla or Adam tried to direct Markus on a task, he was not willing to try it their way. In business, not doing it the boss’s way is a guaranteed method of shortening your future with that firm – especially when you’re not right.
Adam told him directly, he did not deliver results when assigned tasks. In this game, that’s serious. His overdue firing is a classic case of addition by subtraction – the team is stronger without Markus than with him.
Last words: I’d like to add that although this is a TV show, it’s also a job interview. In most jurisdictions, Trump’s questions about sexual orientation (gay or virgin) are not only inappropriate, but illegal. So he gets a NEEDS IMPROVEMENT as well.
Corrections: Last week, I made two mistakes. I can only blame the shock of the quadruple firing. One, I attributed the addition of 34 + 74 = 111 to Alla, but it was really Felisha. Secondly, I criticized Clay for something he said in an interview. I liken interviews to talking to your dog, thus he should not have been chastised for “harping about Alla.” Mind you, his rating does not change.
Well, those are the performance reviews for this week. I’ll be back next week with a new review of our remaining candidates’ activities.
Brian lives in Toronto where he can be reached at email@example.com. He spent a couple of decades working in middle management at The Prudential, primarily hiding behind the coffee machine to avoid his pointy-haired bosses. He’d like to hear your opinions and promises to respond to all serious email!