The Apprentice 5 Weekly Performance Appraisals, Episode 2by Brian Towers -- 03/09/2006
In this series of articles about The Apprentice, we will be focusing on the business actions of each player. Toward that end, I’ll be giving a capsulated performance review on each applicant each week. Warning, a few comments on game play just might sneak in there, too!
Gold Rush: Gold Rush didn’t start well. This was a simple task – do something to get the attention of passersby for twenty seconds and have them send a text message for you. It isn’t rocket science. No significant budget to worry about, nothing complicated about the technology, no speeches or formal presentations, no difficult clients - just who can say, “Hey buddy, got a second?” and get a response more often.
Gold Rush did their best to use a sledgehammer to crack walnuts, trying for a complex solution where none was warranted. But this week, it was not about the Gold Rush squad. Therefore, NO RATING is given out to six of the eight team members, namely: Bryce, Charmaine, Dan, Leslie, Theresa, and Tarek.
Lenny: Last-picked Lenny did the best work of anyone this week. He didn’t let Lee’s micro-management of the task drag him down. He recognized that time was being wasted, got his mini-team out on the street, and was productive as soon as possible.
He showed leadership by taking control of that team, plus in insisting that Lee get the rest of the team out and working instead of navel-gazing.
Lenny also exhibited good teamwork skills by humbly accepting Lee’s acknowledgement that he (Lenny) was right about the way they were approaching the task.
I’ll rate Lenny as VERY GOOD. If Lenny had not openly shown his impatience with Lee by first shouting on the phone and then hanging up on his PM, I’d have rated him even higher.
Lee: Lee stepped up to be PM, always a good move in this show. The team got off to a good start but got bogged down in needless trivia.
There was far too much effort wasted trying to decide what their buzzword was going to be. Myself, I’d have made it the number five so it had some link to the product, yet was ultimately simple for the folks on the street to text message. And, we wouldn’t have voted on it. If someone were foolish enough to stand up in the boardroom and say they lost because of a bad choice of word, Trump would surely fire that person on the spot.
Even after Lenny, Charmaine, and Leslie left, the planning meeting continued. They did come up with the good idea of targeting the clubs, as text messengers tend to be a younger crowd. However, the time Lee wanted to spend traveling about town didn’t seem justified.
I liked Lee for acknowledging that Lenny had the right approach to the task. His ability to admit his error, learn from it, and adapt is an excellent indication that there’s hope for Lee yet. I’ll give him a SATISFACTORY rating. He didn’t do a very good job, but since the other team was such a train wreck, he got away with one.
Synergy I think I have to be mad at the editors over this week’s show. Everyone on the team was adamant that the efforts expended in handling Brent derailed them by wasting a lot of time and blocking the development of ideas. We did see a few minutes spent addressing the Brent-Stacy issue, but for the most part we saw very little evidence of this. In fact, we saw almost no one BUT Brent coming up with ideas! However, it seems unlikely that the whole herd… er, team… was similarly deluded, so without more data to go on, I blame the edit.
The loss this week can be attributed to three things – poorer locations, a dearth of decent ideas, and not enough time putting those meager plans into action. The last one was most important. Too bad, because when they finally started to function, I think they actually had more sales per hour than Gold Rush.
Not generally visible this week except to generally agree that Brent was the bane of their existence were Andrea, Sean, and Tammy, so they get NO RATING, though NEEDS IMPROVEMENT seems indicated.
Allie: Every season it seems there’s a guy something like Brent. In the first season there was Sam, then we met Raj, then Danny and Brian, and last season it was Markus. None of them last long, just long enough to evoke the chaos necessary to disrupt and dispirit their teams. Wasn’t it obvious to all that Brent was “that guy” for this season? They should have fired Allie for picking Brent instead of taking Lenny.
OK, that wasn’t a serious review. Actually, Allie is in the same group as Andrea and the others listed above. But it had to be said, you know?
Michael: I don’t think Michael stood up for himself very well in the boardroom. When Trump attacked his eleventh-hour bathrobe idea, Michael passed the blame on to Pepi. Well, the whole team agreed with the decision and Michael might have considered steering discussion towards the overall lack of alternatives instead.
Apparently for Mr. Trump, it’s worse to submit the only idea when it isn’t great rather than offer no ideas at all, for the only person pulled back into the boardroom for “bad ideas” was Michael.
Michael tells us he wasn’t happy with the location and wishes Stacy would have moved them elsewhere. I wonder if he conveyed that to Stacy or the PM? Seeing a problem and not fixing it shows poor teamwork skills. Since we don’t know for sure, SATISFACTORY is the best I can come up with for Michael.
Pepi: Having it said in the boardroom that you have someone on your team you can’t control isn’t great, but letting your team railroad you into making an unconvincing and ultimately unsuccessfully attempt to eliminate that player from the current task, that was legendarily weak.
It’s hard to believe that your team met all evening long and never came up with a better way of attracting attention to your campaign.
Also, it was a major, avoidable, and unforgivable error that it was noon before the whole team got to the location. We don’t actually know what they did besides eat a leisurely breakfast. I’m guessing it’s when they rented a megaphone and got a couple of signs made. Whatever it was, the task was lost by the messages Gold Rush had already generated.
Compounding all this for Pepi was his boardroom performance. His oral skills were only marginally better than those of Markus. Although I can understand being afraid of Ivanka, Pepi could give her NO examples of how he led the team.
The bottom line is, his performance as an ineffective PM garners him an UNACCEPTABLE rating.
Roxanne: Roxanne was a top-notch performer this week, and she gets a GOOD rating. It would be higher but we never saw her generating any marketing ideas.
When Roxanne recognized that Stacy was overreacting counterproductively to Brent, I thought it was clever when she playfully restrained Stacy with a mock headlock during the planning session.
And of course, if Roxanne hadn’t woken her team up, possibly they’d never have made it to Times Square until the task was over.
Finally, she was the only person we saw with the integrity to identify Pepi as the one who was primarily responsible for the loss. This shows she’s not just running with the pack but sees the big picture around her. Oh heck, make it a VERY GOOD rating!
Stacy: One reason Trump fired her was for her choice of location – the same location as the winning team! However, the perception was that their specific locations within the Times Square area were a problem and she didn’t have them move. Or, she moved them but not effectively. But that wasn’t her biggest problem.
In the initial planning session, Stacy continually interrupted Brent. It seemed to be getting personal. I replayed the hallway confrontation scene between Stacy and Brent several times, and it’s my impression that Stacy was noticeably annoyed at Brent, but not fearful. However, after playing that card, in the boardroom she let Trump’s opinion that she shouldn’t have been scared of Brent remain unchallenged. Coupled with her earlier waffling in the suite and her selective memory about the word “threatened,” her credibility took a big hit. I draw the conclusion that Stacy overplayed her response to Brent and got trapped.
There’s only one possible rating for Stacy and that’s UNACCEPTABLE.
Brent: Clearly, Brent is unpopular with his team and has trouble getting the others to listen to him. Even if he is being stifled, he needs to find a way to edit himself and get only his best ideas on the table and be considered a valuable contributor. Of course, the ideas have to be better than some we’ve seen. The “guys in shaving cream” idea was impractical, as one would have to be constantly reapplying the stuff.
I applaud Brent for standing up to Pepi when he tried to send him back to the suite. No one ever got to be the Apprentice by agreeing to be sent home. Not that Brent needs to worry about winning the game, not in this universe.
Brent’s eerie dancing struck me as a cross between Apprentice Jim at the Tide-To-Go event on the Martha Stewart version of this show, and the Toronto Raptors trying to rebound. Most of Synergy was critical of the dancing, either at the time or later in the suite, but the whole team clustered around him to successfully have the messages sent that they needed. We know Toral would never have done this.
Overall Brent did better work this week, but I’ll rate Brent as NEEDS IMPROVEMENT nonetheless. I think he’ll own that rating until he leaves the game.
The team meeting in the suite where an absent Brent was raked over the coals indicates how much his team doesn’t want to work with him. No contestant has ever had less respect from his peers, and to my mind, the situation is not recoverable. Everyone finds him an unskilled, disruptive clown with nothing at all to offer.
Expect the team to attempt to minimize Brent’s impact in future tasks. His only chance to survive this game is to get traded to the other side, though suite scuttlebutt has probably poisoned that option as well.
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!