The Apprentice 4, Episode 8: Fired, You Areby Betsy Wasser -- 11/11/2005
I can’t remember the last time I was so excited to watch an episode of The Apprentice. Not only did we have the pending hissy fit that Clay was about to throw at the end of last week’s episode, but the task features Star Wars. Considering that I briefly considered naming my son Luke Sky Wasser, you might say that I’m rather fond of the movies. Let’s get to it!
Alla and Felisha wait in the task for the results of the Boardroom. Alla says that if Clay survives, they’re in trouble, because he’ll be vindictive. “It’s war,” she says, because Clay is totally in it for himself. Clay and Adam return, Clay slamming the door open and shooting Alla and Felisha a smug look. The two of them notice and figure they’ll deal with him. They give Adam a hug, and the three of them go off to talk without Clay.
Felisha thinks that Clay might sabotage the team out of spite. Adam tells the women that Clay refused to shake his hand after the Boardroom. Alla says that’s how Clay is going to act from now on, because he is vindictive. Alla is afraid that at this point, Clay doesn’t care if they win or lose, and it’s going to be hell.
The next morning, Randal answers the Trump phone and gets the instructions to meet in the Boardroom at 8:00. They file in, and Clay already looks mad. Trump arrives and tells us that Bill will be filling in for George. It’s always nice to see Bill. Trump wastes no time in showing the candidates the trailer for Star Wars: Episode III. Randal is grinning from ear to ear, and I spot a fellow Jedi. Trump says that Star Wars is a very successful franchise. If you add up ticket sales, merchandising, and so forth, it’s brought in $13 billion. The task will be to create an in-store display featuring the new DVD as well as the game Battlefront 2 at Best Buy. They will have access to Lucasfilm staff in putting together their displays, and at the end the display that is judged best by executives from Best Buy and Lucasfilm wins. Trump sends them on their way with, “May the force be with you.”
At Capital Edge, Clay reveals his allegiance with the dark side of the force by demanding that he be project manager, after the way he was treated in the Boardroom. I really don’t know why he’s so shocked that anyone tried to get him fired; perhaps he’s never watched the show before. Felisha says she’s not pleased with the idea of him being in charge, since he’s so bitter. Clay says that he knows they want him off the team, and everyone lies and says that’s not true. Felisha tells him that they are a team. Clay says he wants to lead them so that he can learn to trust them again. I’m not sure why that’s a selling point to the other three, but whatever.
In an interview, Clay shows that he himself isn’t to be trusted – he wants to be in charge so that he can tell everyone what to do. If they don’t listen, he’ll have an easy time getting them fired. He asks if anyone else wants to be project manager. Adam says he won’t do it, which is fair enough since he did it last week. Like morons, Felisha and Alla don’t volunteer. Alla says that she just wants his respect during the task. Clay agrees, but in an interview, says she’s the person he’d most like to have fired. Alla vows to put in 200% in the next task.
Over at Excel, we quickly learn the disturbing fact that other than Randal, no one on the team really knows anything about Star Wars. How can that be? Were Marshawn, Rebecca, and Brian raised by wolves? Randal, however, can’t be project manager since he was last week and has an exemption. Brian says he’ll do it, but that he’ll need the help of the team. He adds again that he knows very little about Star Wars. I am still not sure how that’s possible.
Capital Edge goes to meet with the Best Buy and Lucasfilm executives to learn what they’re looking for. The two men explain that Episode III is the last Star Wars film, and it’s important because it’s an origin story for Darth Vader, one of the greatest villains of all time. Alla says in an interview that it was great meeting with the two executives. They told her everything she needed to know about the movie, and she learned that in particular, they should focus on selling the game and the DVD. She is confident that they have what it takes to win.
Excel has the same idea, and Randal sets an appointment to meet with the same men. Brian allows 15 minutes to get there. Marshawn is a little surprised at that – she thinks it would take more time than that, but since Brian is from New York, she figures he knows what he’s doing. They end up leaving after 10:00 for a 10:15 appointment, and Rebecca says she hates cutting it so close. Brian calls to say they’re running late. He’s surprised at how bad traffic is.
It’s time now for the Trump Lesson of the Week: “Loyalty.” Trump talks about a guy he was planning on hiring until that guy started talking trash about his current boss. Trump didn’t hire him because he was disloyal. Trump says that if there’s someone disloyal on your team, you should get rid of them. That doesn’t bode well for Clay, now does it? This week’s Betsy Lesson of the Week is simple: Let the Wookie win.
It’s now 10:30, and Excel is officially late. Brian calls to apologize, and the executives are polite about it. By the time they get there, it’s 10:45. The executives say that they’d like to talk to them, but they have to leave for another meeting. Excel is out of luck. Rebecca is not pleased and thinks that having made the judges wait will really hurt them. Brian sighs, “We’re screwed.” See, if they had watched Star Wars, Rebecca would have said, “I have a bad feeling about this,” and Brian would have said, “We’re doomed.”
Now seems as good a time as any to mention that several of the scenes in this episode transition with swipes, just like in the Star Wars movies. Apprentice editors, you rock.
At Capital Edge, Alla says that the origin story of Darth Vader is the key to the movie. In Episode III, she says, all questions will be answered. The team discusses who will be at the photo shoot, and ultimately, Clay and Alla go. Darth Vader, Chewbacca, and several Stormtroopers arrive. By the way, my spell check recognizes Chewbacca, which is pretty awesome. Anyway, Alla starts directing the photo shoot, and Clay leaves to flirt with a cute guy. Alla is frustrated and wonders why Clay is even there in the first place.
Meanwhile, Brian realizes that his best Star Wars resource is Randal and asks for a complete run-down of all six movies. I would love to have seen this in its entirety, but we do see Randal explaining such basics as that the main character of the original trilogy is Luke. I wish I had seen, like, a stunned reaction from Brian upon learning that Darth Vader is Luke’s father. That would have been hysterical. Rebecca says in an interview that Randal knows the movies well, but it’s no substitute for talking to the executives and learning how the movie and game are being marketed.
Randal starts to sketch the display and wants to show a transition from the good Jedis to the evil Sith on the Dark Side. They discuss which characters to feature. Randal is thinking the Emperor, Yoda, Obi-Wan (mmm, Ewan McGreggor), and C-3PO. Marshawn says that everyone knows those characters already, so why not choose some of the new ones from this movie. Wow, she really doesn’t get how cool it is to see, say, a young Yoda hanging out with a young Chewbacca. Marshawn suggests a random character because she likes his costume and he looks interesting. Brian asks Randal if that’s a good idea, and Randal advises against it. Marshawn backs down, saying that she just wanted to suggest it.
Clay and Alla start putting together their display for Capital Edge. The idea is to step into a mini room and experience the movie and the game. In an interview, Felisha says that Alla might as well be the project manager, since she is clearly in charge. She really regrets letting Clay be the project manager, as he contributes nothing.
In a commercial, Yoda says, “Faith in your new apprentice misplaced may be.” Hee! Cool.
Bill watches Clay and Alla set up. Alla has to tell Clay which characters are the good guys and which are the bad guys. Alla lived in freaking Russia until 1988, yet she knows the movie better than Clay does. I’m sorry, but this is baffling to me. Didn’t everyone have the toys and have practice Jedi training with their siblings? Just me? I don’t think so. Anyway, Bill takes all of this in, including the fact that Clay can’t make a decision without looking to Alla for affirmation.
Excel sets up their display. Marshawn is in charge of doing the presentation, and considering how well she spoke during last week’s Learning Annex challenge, she’s a great choice. But hang on a minute – she’s not sure she wants to do it. She feels weird about the fact that the presentation has been her only key role in the project so far. She wonders if it’s on her so she’ll be a part of the team, or if Brian is setting her up as a scapegoat if they lose. Gee, could it be because you’re a good presenter and your manager wants to use that talent of yours? Brian is confused about whether the Stormtroppers are good guys or bad guys, which again blows my mind. Carolyn watches, and says that their display is only average. There are no lights or music to go with it. If they’re going to win, they’ll need a great presentation.
Speaking of which, Marshawn says she’s not sold on the display and wants Brian to do the presentation. She says she’s not passionate about the project. She and Brian argue about which of them should do it, as Rebecca looks on. In an interview, Rebecca says, “Someone at this point just needs to step up and say ‘I’ll do it.’” So, Rebecca steps up (well, hobbles –she’s still got the crutches) and volunteers. What I want to know is why they didn’t have Randal do it. Randal is a terrific public speaker, a likable guy, and a huge Star Wars fan. Where is he?
Capital Edge begins their presentation. Adam is dressed as a Padwan, complete with braid, and Felisha is Queen Amidala. Clay leads the presentation, much to Alla’s frustration. In an interview, Alla says she feels like Clay is taking credit for the whole thing. Felisha watches and says that Alla should have given the presentation. For her part, Alla interjects periodically to clarify what Clay is saying or to explain things better. Clay doesn’t like that one bit and says in an interview, “I didn’t want this to be ‘Alla saves the day.’” Too late, dude.
Excel, clad in matching Best Buy shirts, gives their presentation. Rebecca talks about how they want to allow customers to bring the Star Wars experience home. She shows the transition from good to evil and sound really good, considering that she only had half an hour to prepare. In an interview, she says that it was awkward working from Marshawn’s notes and off the cuff, but someone had to do it. One of the executives asks why they didn’t show Darth Vader, who indeed is nowhere to be seen (other than as Anakin, of course). Rebecca says that Vader is an imposing figure and would have dominated the display. Yes, and that would have been cool. Were they familiar with the movies, they’d know that you must confront Vader or forever will it dominate your destiny. One of the executives notes that the product is not front and center. Brian jumps in with a suggestion as to how they could change it. After the presentation ends, Rebecca says that it wasn’t her best work, but she had no choice since Marshawn dropped the ball.
Trump meets with the executives in the Boardroom and learns that one team did considerably better than the other. The candidates enter, and Clay and Brian both say that they’re proud of how they did. Trump says that the executives said Capital Edge had a great tagline, merchandised the display well, and made the product easy to find. Excel, on the other hand, barely showed Darth Vader and wasn’t even close to winning. Capital Edge wins.
Trump asks the team if project manager Clay deserves an exemption. One by one, Adam, Felisha, and Alla say no. Alla adds that she felt like the task was on her shoulders. Clay seethes. Careful, Clay. Anger. Fear. Opression. The dark side are they. For their reward, the team gets to go to White Plains to spend a day with Jedi Master – ooops, I mean original Apprentice Bill. That’s pretty cool. Trump reminds us that Randal is exempt.
Capital Edge dons their Omarosa Maningault-Stallworth Memorial Hardhats to tour Bill’s building. Felisha is energized by the experience and loves real estate. Adam is happy to get Bill’s input. Bill says that to win, you need passion, creativity, and innovation. Clay somehow interprets this as, “In the end, it’s all about you.” He says that the time for teamwork is over. The emperor tells him to rise.
That last part might have just been in my imagination.
Excel gets ready for the boardroom. Brian says he’s packed all of his bags, noting that Randal doesn’t have to. Randal is about 50 feet taller than Brian, bringing to mind images of Chewbacca and Yoda from Episode III, though again that might just be in my mind. Brian says he’ll fight, but he’s worried. Randal thinks that the other team was more creative, but more importantly, really hit the mark. Randal thinks Brian is responsible for that, as team leader. Brian burns the cookies he’s baking and says in a voiceover that although he bears some of the responsibility, his team let him down. Rebecca talks to him about Marshawn backing out of the presentation. She thinks Marshawn should be fired for dropping the ball.
The candidates head to the wretched hive of scum and villainy that is the Boardroom. Brian explains their good vs. evil concept. Randal admits that is was his idea and thinks that the concept itself was good, thought he execution was not. Trump heard about their missing the meeting and asks about it. Rebecca says that it was Brian’s fault that they were late. Trump says that giving yourself just 15 minutes to get to a meeting in New York is crazy. Brian admits that he lives in Manhattan, and Trump is even more blown away that he thinks it would work to get there in 15 minutes. Brian blames traffic, but Trump isn’t having it. Trump says it would take 45 minutes to an hour to get there.
As soon as this episode ended, New Yorker C. Brian Devinney emailed the staff of RNO to say that’s not the case, that it’s possible to get from Trump Tower to Chelsea in much less time than 45 minutes. I suspect I’ll hear from plenty of New Yorkers with an intimate knowledge of geography in Manhattan, but I’ll say this. Just because you could get there in 15 minutes doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to give yourself so little time to get to a key business meeting. I always leave for meetings well in advance, just in case I get stuck in traffic, get lost, or what have you. I hate being late and find it incredibly unprofessional. Brian should have given himself plenty of time to get there, even if it meant they had to kill some time because they got there early. Showing up late for that meeting was not only rude and unprofessional, but really started a bad domino effect for the team.
Brian says that he was not familiar with Star Wars, though he knew the main characters, and I have still not gotten over my shock at that. Randal says that they really should have met with the executives to get the right direction. Carolyn says that missing that meeting had a profound effect on the task, and Brian agrees.
Out of nowhere, Trump says that he feels like Brian hasn’t stepped up in weeks. Marshawn agrees, saying that Brian’s heart doesn’t seem to be in it anymore. Marshawn probably should have been quiet, because that prompts Carolyn to ask about the presentation. Why didn’t Marshawn do it, Trump wonders. He says that Rebecca did quite well for having so little preparation time. Marshawn says that she was going to do the presentation, but thought Brian would have done better. Trump says that Brian would have been the worst. Brian, seeing a way to take the heat off of him, says that he is a terrible presenter. Marshawn says that she didn’t back out at the last minute, that Rebecca had two hours to prepare. Rebecca counters that it was only half an hour. Either way, that really isn’t good. Rebecca explains that since neither Marshawn nor Brian wanted to do it, she volunteered. Did Randal lose his voice? Anyway, Marshawn says that she doesn’t think Rebecca did better than she would have, but that she did well. Rebecca said she just wanted to get the job done.
Bill now turns to Marshawn and says that at this point in the interview process, she should really try to show her strengths. Why didn’t she take this opportunity to dazzle Trump? Marshawn says she was prepared to do it, but ultimately did not. Trump gets her to admit that it was her idea to not present. Bill thinks she abandoned her team. Carolyn still doesn’t understand why Marshawn didn’t present and demands an answer. Marshawn says that she thought Brian should have done it because it suited his “communication style.” Trump thinks that’s crazy. Bill asks, why take the gamble? Why not have Marshawn, who does public speaking professionally, do it?
The answer, of course, is not that Marshawn thought Brian would do better. In reality, she was afraid they were going to lose and didn’t want to be responsible for anything, near as I can tell. It was a bad tactic to take. Because Rebecca did do the presentation, and did a totally respectable job of it, she wound up being a shining star in an otherwise pitiful task. Marshawn just came across as a shirker.
Trump says that Brian was a terrible leader and should have known better than to leave with so little time to get to an appointment. Brian is fired. And, for good measure, so is Marshawn! He hates that she let her team down. Wow, I was not expecting that at all, since Trump just had a multiple firing. They both deserved to go. Brian’s decision to leave so little time to get to an appointment was a huge mistake. It was rude and unprofessional, and it cost the team the opportunity to learn from the executives. Considering that all of them but Randal have been living under rocks and don’t know Star Wars, they really needed that expertise. Marshawn was also unprofessional, backing down from her responsibility at the eleventh hour. The team has a great public speaker on the team, but she refused to let them use her talents. Up until this episode, I thought Marshawn was really smart, but she sure wasn’t this week.
Trump boots everyone out of his office and says that Brian never stepped up, and that Marshawn disappointed him. Carolyn agrees that Brian should have been fired, and Bill thinks Marshawn should have been the one to go. Hey, everybody wins. Well, okay, not Marshawn or Brian. But everyone else wins!
Marshawn and Brian share a cab, and Marshawn has a lot to say about how Brian screwed up. Brian sits in awkward silence.
I’m hoping for a Randal/Alla final two.
Next week, we’re down to the final six. The candidates will have to write a song for XM Radio, which I love almost as much as I love coffee and Tivo. And one of the candidates will make a fatal mistake. See you then!
Betsy Wasser is the Associate Editor of Reality News Online, which puts her on the RNO Jedi Council. She can be reached with any comments at firstname.lastname@example.org .