The Apprentice 4, Episode 9: Hitting a Sour Noteby Betsy Wasser -- 11/18/2005
Clay, Alla, and Felisha wait to see who from the other team will be fired. Alla hopes it won’t be Brian. In the background is a tally board where the candidates are keeping score of their win/loss record, which is cool. In an interview, Clay says that at least Randal feels good, since his team gave him an exemption before. Clay, in case you forgot, did not give an exemption after his team won last week, and if you couldn’t tell, he’s not happy about it. He’s sure Marshawn will be back.
Well, he’s wrong. Randal and Rebecca return, Brian and Marshawn both having been fired. Clay is surprised, and Rebecca says that it’s “sobering.” Randal is especially surprised that Marshawn was fired. He and Rebecca talk about the fact that they only have two people on their team. Rebecca tells him that she wants to keep their team dynamic the same, to stay positive and not betray each other to get ahead.
Alla, Adam, and Felisha talk to Clay about their team dynamic. Alla asks him to get over his personal feelings. A squabble ensues about how Clay worded his next comment, and watching it made my head hurt a little bit. In an interview, Alla says that she considers Clay a roadblock. He stands in the way of the team. They’ve tried to change him, but he won’t. Alla suggests again that he not take things personally. Adam says that he didn’t give Clay an exemption because his leadership was below par. Clay declares that they’re done and walks away.
The next morning finds Clay making fruit salad when Rhona calls. They are to meet at Model Management, where Trump is with Miss Universe. Clay thinks Model Management sounds like fun. They arrive there, and Trump introduces Miss Universe to Carolyn and George, who feign interest. Just guessing. Trump tells the candidates that they’re down to the final six, so all of them must show their all every week. There will also be no more exemptions.
Clay says that he is not happy with his team and would like to switch. Adam says that Clay is hard to deal with, but on the other hand, thinks he’s being disloyal for wanting to switch. Don’t fight it, Adam. Randal says he’d be happy to have Clay on his team because he’s very creative. Rebecca says she’d be honored to have him. With that, Trump sends Clay to Excel. He exchanges stiff hugs with Rebecca and Randal.
This week, the candidates must develop new talent. That is, they’ll audition unsigned musicians, write songs for them, and have the artists perform them on the air on XM Radio’s Café channel. Ooh, the Café is one of my presets! The song that is considered the best for the Café channel by the XM executives will win.
Clay says in an interview that he really wants to win to prove a point. He hopes Capital Edge loses so that Trump will call them on the fact that their losing was not his fault. He concludes, “sure will suck to be them.”
It’s time for the Trump Lesson of the Week. This week’s lesson is “Creative Balance.” Trump reports that it’s important to balance creativity with practicality. And now for the Betsy Lesson of the Week. Winter is coming, and with it, dry lips. Every winter I buy a whole bunch of chapstick so that I can have one in the pocket of every coat.
Rebecca is the project manager for Excel and is excited about it because she loves music. Randal says that the key is to find a good fit between the artist, song, and genre. The team auditions Jide and are immediately drawn to him. He says that his inspirations are Babyface, Stevie Wonder, and lately, African music, because he’s Nigerian. That would have been enough for me to turn him away, because those artists are not the kind featured on the Café. But hey, I’m not on the team, so they choose Jide. They think he’s versatile and has a lot of flavor. They think he’ll appeal to the Café’s sophisticated listeners.
Felisha is the project manager for Capital Edge and really wants to show everyone how strong she can be. She absolutely loves musician Levi. She’s confident that he has the talent it takes to endure.
Over at Excel, Clay asks Jide about his background. Jide says that he was overweight as a kid, which didn’t help his confidence. Also, he was a middle child. He and Clay talk about how middle children tend to seek attention. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia! Looking on, Carolyn observes that Jide is a good artist and has an interesting story.
Clay thinks that Jide’s background can make a song. He was sort of an ugly duckling growing up, plus he was always looking for attention. Now that he’s older, cuter, and ready to shine, he can ask, “What about me?” Clay thinks it’s perfect. Rebecca disagrees – it sounds too feminine. Randal quickly offers a compromise – “It’s My Time.” That sounds good to me, but Clay doesn’t like it. He thinks it sounds like bragging. Rebecca counters that Jide needs to sound tough. But that messes up Clay’s chorus, which includes the line “It’s all about me.” Rebecca says in an interview that Clay was completely inflexible. His stubbornness brings the team to a stalemate. She says that they’re changing it to “It’s My Time.” Clay sulks because that screws up the 40 minutes he spent working on the lyrics. Forty minutes! Down tubes! Two thirds of an hour of Clay’s life that he’ll never get back!
At Capital Edge, Adam asks Levi about his life. Levi talks about how important his friends are to him as a musician. They’re all broke, and they rely on each other for help, a couch to crash on, and so on. Felisha and Adam brainstorm on that and Adam comes up with the title “Nothing Can Be Everything.” Felisha starts to sing it. George arrives, and Felisha tells him that the song will be pop rock. George says that he used to work in radio. One of his stations had a heavy metal format, which he didn’t like until he found out how much advertising they were selling. It’s nice to hear more from George. George says that the key to this task is to know your format’s listener. Alla says in an interview that her team is much better without Clay.
Jide rehearses his song with Excel. Rebecca reports that Clay’s “chick lyric” has been changed to a sort of Nigerian Seal-Meets-Lenny Kravitz. Clay corrects Jide for getting the lyrics wrong. Clay thinks Jide is perfect for the Café and is going to be a star.
Meanwhile, Felisha isn’t happy with how the music sounds for Levi’s song. It’s too jazzy, and wrong for the station. It should be pop rock, she says. They agree to change things up. In an interview, Alla admires the way Felisha handled that potential issue.
Over at Excel, Rebecca practices her introduction for Jide. She suggests that the three of them enter the room without him, then let Jide make a grand entrance. Randal and Clay like the idea, and my husband immediately wonders aloud how Clay is going to mess that up. She says that when they first met Jide, he lit up the room with his smile, so she wants to give the executives that same experience. She practices her speech, which includes a short bio of Jide. As she talks about his past, Clay makes the violin playing gesture. Rebecca is annoyed, and demands, “Tell me an idea.” Far be it for Clay to do something constructive; instead he tells her that her presentation is not excited. Rebecca repeats, “Tell me ideas.” In an interview, Rebecca says that Clay is consistently disturbing. She knows she can’t work with him again and be successful.
Capital Edge introduces Levi to the executives. Felisha says that they loved Levi’s passion and organic roots. Adam says that it was easy to tell Levi’s story. Levi says that the team really worked with him, and he appreciates their efforts. I wonder how much the two teams actually wrote the songs, and how much they got help from the producers and singers, because I know I wouldn’t have the first clue how to write a song. They play the song on XM, and Trump, in his limo, tunes in. Listeners call in with their comments, and across the board, it’s a hit. Felisha is thrilled, because she felt personally invested in this song. She applauds Levi and tells him it’s all because of him, which is cool.
Now it’s Excel’s turn. Rebecca starts to introduce Jide, but Clay misses his cue and lets Jide in too early, pretty much ankling Rebecca’s presentation. Did I say ankle? Oops, sorry. In an interview, Rebecca says that Clay consistently moves off course.
Randal shows a promotional poster they designed to showcase new artist Jide on the Café. The executives immediately notice that the channel number is wrong. Ooh, that’s not good. However, I am grateful that Randal made the poster so that I could spell Jide’s name right.
They play the song, and while it’s good, it’s totally wrong for the “soft alternative” format of the Café. The executives are not happy, and one asks, “Seriously, I mean, can you hear this on the Café?” They agree that it’s not a good match. The listeners call in, and they’re overwhelmingly negative. One says it had too much of a beat to it, another calls it formulaic. Rebecca can’t believe the reaction and thought these sophisticated listeners would like the song better.
Trump arrives, and the executives report that although the teams made two good records, there was a clear winner. Capital Edge really knew Levi, and they felt his song fit well with the station. Excel had a great story to tell, but they didn’t hear it in the song. It wasn’t right for the Café. Capital Edge wins. Everyone hugs, and Clay doesn’t look happy. For their reward, they’ll take a helicopter tour of New York.
I was feeling sorry for Jide, who was excellent, getting such harsh criticism. But on the other hand, he was exposed not only to listeners on XM, but also to all of us who watched us on TV, so I hope he’s feeling good about that.
Capital Edge climbs into Trump’s helicopter. Felisha is thrilled to spend some time with Donald Trump. Alla says that Trump is the king of New York, no doubt about it. As the team flies by the Statue of Liberty, Adam is reminded of his dad, who immigrated to the United States.
Back in the suite, Randal says that this was the hardest loss yet. It was subjective, so it was disappointing. I think he and Rebecca are also disappointed because they really liked Jide’s music and believed in it. Randal says that the channel number was his mistake, and he’ll own up to it. They agree that the song itself was hot. Rebecca thinks they would have done better without the distraction of Clay on their team.
The candidates head to the boardroom. Rebecca says that writing the song was a group effort, but Clay quickly says that Rebecca took away his concept. Rebecca maintains that “What About Me” was the wrong direction to take. A twenty-four year old man wouldn’t say that; it sounds weak and whiny. Trump reminds Rebecca that they wanted Clay on their team because he is creative. Rebecca says that he wasn’t as good as she thought he’d be. She does think, though, that Clay is more creative than Randal. Well, sure. This coffee mug on my desk is more creative than Randal, but I don’t think that matters since Trump isn’t hiring an artist.
Trump points out that Clay had problems with his previous team. Really, at this point, Rebecca and Randal need to just not screw up, and they’re home free. Rebecca says that Clay was difficult to work with, but she’s not sure if the other project managers had the same problem. Trump says that she’s very honest. Clay says he is honest too. Trump counters that he doesn’t know about that, but he does know that Clay is difficult. Randal and Rebecca, Trump says, were two stars and are now “reduced to nothing” after a task with Clay.
Carolyn asks about the presentation. Rebecca says that she wanted to tell the story, but Clay encouraged her not to with the productive use of violin gestures. Clay says that Rebecca was going in the wrong direction and needed to focus differently. How, we don’t know. Carolyn is surprised that Jide didn’t speak. Rebecca wanted him to, but Clay did not. Clay says he wanted his voice to be heard in the music. Carolyn thinks that was a mistake. Clay says that if it was, it was one of only a few small ones that he made. Carolyn, bless her, disagrees.
Randal admits that the wrong channel number in the poster was his fault. Trump thinks it might be a firing-type offense. Randal agrees evenly that his mistake was “not small.” Rebecca adds that it was huge. She says that Randal missed some main points. Randal disagrees. He adds that he was the one who came up with the idea of making a marketing poster. George says that with the wrong number on it, they might have been better off without it.
George goes on to say that the reason they lost was that they got the format wrong. Word, George. Randal says that they took a risk. George responds that it wasn’t a risk, it was suicide.
Trump says that all of them made mistakes. Clay has been considered hard to work with – does he have a negative effect on his team? Rebecca, Trump says, has been great, but not this week. But he’s most disappointed with Randal. Trump says he’s too good for a mistake like that, and Randal agrees. Trump says that none of them should be proud of how they did, so in a task like this, he has to go by past history. Rebecca, Trump says, couldn’t work with Clay. Alla and Adam said the same. Clay creates problems. Clay is fired.
As Clay walks to the elevator, he winks at the camera. Trump says to George and Carolyn that he had to rely on past performances. In his cab home, Clay says that Rebecca and Randal are not creative at all. He predicts they’ll lose the next task. As for Capital Edge, he feels sorry for them. With him gone, Alla will have no one to pick on.
Next week, we have two episodes back to back, so here’s hoping I can get out of my Thanksgiving-induced food coma in order to write them. One of the teams will resort to sabotage. And, the final four will be revealed. Why not predict them: Randal, Rebecca, Alla, and Felisha are my picks.
Betsy Wasser is the Associate Editor of Reality News Online. Her favorite XM channel is Ethel. She can be reached with any comments at sign up for our e-mail update so you can stay informed about new articles on the site! For more news about this show, be sure to check out SirLinksALot’s Apprentice page!