The Apprentice 4: An Analysis of the Final Twoby Betsy Wasser -- 12/07/2005
As disappointed as I was that Trump fired Alla along with Felisha last week, it does help me out a little bit – I’d planned to write an analysis of the records of the final three candidates, not the final two. Thanks for saving me some time, Trumpers! This is the fourth season of The Apprentice and the fourth time I’ve written an article predicting the winner. I correctly pegged Bill and Kelly as the winners, but I was wrong last time when I thought Tana would beat out Kendra. We’ll soon find out if I can improve my record. Let’s look at Randal and Rebecca, their strengths and weaknesses, and see who deserves to be the next apprentice.
Experience: President and CEO of a multi-million dollar consulting firm. Five academic degrees, former Rhodes Scholar
Project Manager: Best Buy (won), Learning Annex (won), Shania Twain (won)
Trips to the boardroom: XM
Unfortunately, the first way we got to know Randal was that his grandmother passed away. He admitted that he was having a hard time focusing on the task at hand, but didn’t want to miss such an incredible opportunity.
After a trip to Philadelphia for his grandmother’s funeral, Randal led the Best Buy task. Clay and Markus argued about whether or not to feature Tivo in their demonstration, and Randal gave Markus the go-ahead. Markus’s Tivo presentation wound up being successful, plus Randal was perhaps the only project manager to use Markus in a successful way.
Randal’s theme for the expo is “Connecting the Generations,” a great way to capture the seniors’ interest. The team’s presentation was dynamic, attractive, and appealing – with, according to George, good food. At the end, the team was unanimous in giving him an exemption for being a good project manager.
Randal has been criticized for being uncreative, but in the fourth episode’s Dairy Queen challenge, he worked well with his team at writing a jingle to promote their new mascot. Unfortunately, that jingle never saw the light of day, since project manager Clay told the guys not to use it. We’ll never know if the jingle would have been succsssful, but to say that Randal doesn’t have a creative bone in his body is obviously not true. Maybe it’s one of those teeny bones, like the ones in your ears, but that remains to be seen.
In the fifth episode, we learned that Randal has the absolute respect of the other candidates. The women needed another member to bump up their numbers, and without hesitation, they chose Randal. Felisha said that Randal was an easy pick – not only would he help him, but his absense would hurt the men. She was right – Josh said that Randal was the “special sauce” that helped the team win. Of course, not even Randal could help Capital Edge win after Jennifer repeatedly mispronounced Zathura. After the team lost, Randal noted that there were big problems with the team dynamic. Too many people were talking without listening. To that end, he advised Trump to fire Kristi. Randal showed in this episode that he has a good understanding of what makes a team successful.
In Episode 7, after Excel had the devastating quadruple firing, the team asked Randal to rejoin them. Once again, it was clear that the other candidates think Randal is the best among them. That respect is bound to be impressing Trump. Brian explained that he wanted Randal on the team because he is analytical, smart, and overall a great guy to work with. Randal demonstrated his strengths right away by volunteering to be project manager in the Learning Annex challenge. The rest of the team worried that he wasn’t very creative, and they might have been right to be concerned. George observed that Randal’s “Make Your Mark” was a dull topic.
But the not so dynamic topic didn’t hold Randal back. He was a fantasic speaker, commanding the attention of the audience. The comments from the audience specifically called him out as being outstanding. He was also a good leader – without hesitation, his team gave him an exemption.
In the next episode, Randal’s star didn’t shine nearly as brightly. That was the Star Wars task, and it’s understandable that even though he’s a fan, Randal didn’t lead the team – he’d just led and it was someone else’s turn. He was helpful to Brian by giving him a quick and dirty recap of what happened in the movies. He also came up with the basic layout of the display, putting the good characters on one side and the bad on the other. But that was pretty much all we saw of Randal. The oddest part came when Marshawn and Brian debated who should give the presentation. It is still a mystery to me as to why Randal, both a great speaker and a Star Wars lover, didn’t volunteer.
Randal’s esteem slipped a bit more in the next task, in which the team produced a song for XM radio. Randal did help Clay and Rebecca come up with a compromise song title, ending their argument about what Jide would or would not say. He also had the idea of creating a poster to show how XM might market the new artist. Unfortunately, Randal didn’t do very well with the poster. In the clip show, we learned that Randal chose an incredibly boring picture of Jide for the poster. Worse, he put the wrong channel numbe r on it, a mistake that the executives noticed immediately. To his credit, Randal owned up to the mistake in the boardroom, but he took quite a beating for it. Rebecca said he was uncreative and did not step up. Worse, Trump told him that he was disappointed in Randal, that he was too good to make such a careless mistake.
Randal knew that he’d have to make up for those problems in the next task. After the boardroom, he immediately had a talk with Rebecca. He told her that he didn’t appreciate the accusation that he didn’t step up. Question my judgment, he said, but don’t question my dedication. Randal was clear and direct without being accusatory, and he and Rebecca wound up having a productive conversation that left both of them feeling good. Then he volunteered to lead the Shania Twain task. He came up with the idea of having people in sandwich boards promote the fragrance. It was not an especially creative idea, but in the end that didn’t matter because it worked. Randal used his resources very well. He called two temp agencies, easily securing 60 temps. He gave them an effective pep talk that got everyone motivated. Then he put the strongest, most dynamic of the workers in a van with a bullhorn. Randal absolutely reproved his worth in this task.
In the most recent episode, Randal showed that he doesn’t need to have all of the glory for himself and is more than happy to be a good team member – he cheerfully let Rebecca take charge of the task. He said that she needed the win, and vowed to do everything he could to help her. During the task, Randal did just that. He saw Rebecca’s frustration with one of the actors and pulled her aside, suggesting that maybe she should fire him if she wasn’t getting the right energy from him. Rebecca agreed and asked him to step in. Randal did just that and did an excellent job. When the task was over, Randal once again showed that he is a team player by telling Trump that she was an excellent project manager.
All in all, Randal’s record is outstanding. His Achilles heel seems to be a lack of creativity. I doubt that will do him in. In the final task, Randal will likely have other candidates to work with, and since everyone seems to respect and like him, he’ll be able to get someone to help him with that problem. He is a very strong project manager and won every task he led. The only time he’s ever been in the boardroom was in the XM task when there were only three candidates on the team. Randal has an outstanding record. But can he beat Rebecca?
Experience: Investment banker and financial journalist
Project Manager: Best Buy (lost), XM (lost), Microsoft (won)
Trips to the boardroom: Best Buy, XM
Just as we didn’t see much of Randal in the first few episodes, we didn’t see much of Rebecca either. The one thing we learned about her is that she isn’t the best ice skater in the world – during a reward, she fell and broke her ankle.
Because of that broken ankle, Rebecca volunteers to lead the third task. She wants to make it clear that her injury won’t hold her back. She began by leading a brainstorming session and requested that everyone say her peace and that everyone listen. Considering that listening was an ongoing problem for Capital Edge, that was probably a smart way to go. Alla, however, found her style abrasive, saying that it’s not a good idea to be forceful when leading a group of strong women. In retrospect, that’s rather rich coming from Alla. That aside, the women say that Rebecca doesn’t have them especially pumped up about the task. In the end, the event was incredibly lackluster, especially compared to the men’s, and Capital Edge lost.
In the boardroom, the team was clearly against Toral. Toral, they said, did not contribute to the team, and did a bad job of demonstrating HDTV. Rebecca and Toral had become friends after Toral took her to the doctor for her broken ankle, and the other team members said that to not bring Toral to the boardroom would be showing very bad judgment. Rebecca, though saw things differently. She thought Toral had the potential to win and refused to bring her into the boardroom. Trump told her she might be fired for that mistake, but Rebecca said her integrity was more important. In the end, Rebecca survived, since Trump saw potential in her.
After the Toral debacle in the boardroom, Rebecca had an honest conversation with Toral, along with the rest of the team. She told her friend that she expected great things from her, then was disappointed when she didn’t offer to lead. As the task went on, Carolyn noted that Rebecca and Toral were the outsiders in the sorority that was Capital Edge. This time in the boardroom, Rebecca knew better than to defend Toral. She told Trump that Toral deserved to be fired. It’s hard to say what to make of Rebecca’s involvement in the whole Toral issue. Trump said he appreciated her loyalty, but thought it was misplaced. Rebecca’s status as an outsider among the rest of the women never really changed. It could affect her ability to lead them in the final task.
In the sixth episode, Alla sent Rebecca to Excel as one of the people she thought contributed least. That task was the ill-fated Dick’s Sporting Goods task that decimated Excel. Rebecca performed quite well on this task. She recommended soccer as the sport of choice, which might have been better than baseball. Soccer is incredibly popular with kids, which would lend itself to a fun event, plus it is equally popular with girls and boys. When the team chose baseball, though, Rebecca still contributed. She was one of the players who actually managed to do some selling, despite the fact that she never claimed to be a master seller like Jennifer – and she was on crutches. Her good work spared her from the mass firing.
Rebecca impressed me less on the Learning Annex class. She thought Randal’s topic was boring, and just decided that it was on him to make it good. The best candidates don’t just throw up their hands and wait for the project manager to screw up. I would have liked to see her make the best of the task rather than just complaining about it.
She more than made up for that, however, in the Star Wars task. Brian and Marshawn were arguing about which of them should handle the presentation. Rebecca heard enough of that, and simply offered to do it herself. With just half an hour to prepare, Rebecca did, by all accounts, an excellent job. She was more than ready to step in where her team needed her.
In the next episode, Rebecca volunteered to be project manager. Her team lost the task, and it was largely Rebecca’s fault. The object was to find an artist that best fit in with XM’s Café channel, and Rebecca’s choice of Jide, though a great musician, was totally wrong for the format. She misunderstood the kind of performer they needed to find, leading directly to Excel’s loss. That said, she did an outstanding job as project manager. Clay was very difficult to work with, and Rebecca handled him well. She asked him to select a new photo to replace the boring one of Jide that Randal picked. Not only did she get a better picture, but she made Clay feel good about his contributions. Later, when Clay made his violin gestures to express his dislike of her presentation, I absolutely loved Rebecca’s reaction. She demanded that he “tell me an idea,” rather than just complaining. It absolutely shut him down, and well done.
In the boardroom, as we previously discussed, she accused Randal of not stepping up. She is equally praise-worthy for the way she and Randal handled that discussion. She vowed to work hard with him and did just that in the Shania Twain task. It was her idea to snag the bullhorns away from Capital Edge, a slightly shady move that Trump and Bill both got a kick out of. She also had the good idea of sending Spanish-speaking workers to Spanish Harlem. As a result, she and Randal were able to appeal to a wider demographic.
Finally, Rebecca volunteered to manage the Microsoft task, knowing that she needed a win. It was a tough decision for her to fire the actor, but she did it and quickly replaced him with Randal. Later, she apparently decided to act in the commercial as well, and did a very good job. In the end, Randal paid her the ultimate compliment of saying she was a good project manager. Rebecca has made some bad decisions in the past, but has shown herself overall to be a solid worker and was a very good project manager in the last task.
So who will win? Frankly, I think Randal has this one in the bag. I don’t think Rebecca will fail in her task by any means. She is far too smart and competent for that to happen. But Randal has more than proven himself to be those things as well, along with being a strong leader who has the respect of everyone he’s worked with in the past. Trump can look to what I’m sure will be a successful final task, along with a great record both as a player and as a project manager, not to mention an incredible resume. Randal will be the next Apprentice.
Betsy Wasser is the Associate Editor of Reality News Online. She can be reached with any comments at Betsywasser@gmail.com.