The Apprentice 5, Episode 10: Cutting It Closeby Betsy Wasser -- 05/02/2006
As they prepare some kind of lobster dish, Tarek and Lee note that the other team has been in the boardroom for quite a while. Lee likes that- he figures they’re having a vicious battle. Synergy returns, minus Andrea. Allie says that her team fought for her. Sean tells everyone that he supported Andrea, then shrugs sheepishly. Allie says he’s “kind of a fence sitter,” but “went over to the dark side.” Sean says he thought differently, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Allie hugs Roxanne and Tammy, which worries Sean- he may be the scapegoat. Allie tells him that she’s surprised that he was “strategic like that.” Sean says that he might have been fired and was protecting himself Roxanne says she, Allie, and Tammy are straight shooters, that Sean doesn’t have anything to worry about. Allie says that just because the women are “super tight” doesn’t mean anything. She thinks Sean is playing strategically. I really don’t see where she gets that. Sean maintains that he was just trying to save himself. In an interview, Allie says that she doesn’t trust him. “He sold me out, and I’m not going to let that happen again.”
Candidates arrive outside boardroom. Trump banters with the sponsor while Bill and Carolyn watch with frozen smiles. They join the candidates, and for the millionth time, Trump swears that his hair is real. He asks for volunteers to examine his hair. Charmaine looks up close, but she doesn’t actually touch it. Trump says that the world should know, “It may not be pretty, but it’s me.” I’ve always thought his hair was real. If you’re as rich as Donald Trump, you don’t buy fake hair that looks like that. All of this segues to an introduction of Dennis, CEO, founder, and stylist of the Hair Cuttery. Each team will throw a grand opening event at new salons. The team that brings in the most money wins.
Synergy is on the way to the task, and Allie is still talking about the boardroom. Tammy thinks Sean will have trouble recovering from the damage he did with Allie and Roxanne. As Project Manager, she is determined that her team will be able to continue to function. They arrive at the salon, and immediately start work with the staff to shelves of products. Allie figures out how to arrange the shelves. She tells the staff to “tumble on top of” Sean if he’s in the way. Sean thinks that the women are going to be looking for him to fail so they can get him fired. He plans to “not screw up.” Now there’s strategy!
Charmaine is Project Manager of Gold Rush- she knows a little bit about salons, more than the guys do, at least. The message, she says, is grand opening. Clever! Tarek asks for the theme. Charmaine says that is the theme. She is annoyed and asks what he has in mind. He doesn’t have an idea either. Charmaine maintains that “grand opening” is as good a theme as any. Charmaine thinks Tarek is being condescending. He seems to think, according to Charmaine, that she doesn’t understand what he’s saying. Considering that she thinks “grand opening” is a theme, I tend to think Tarek is right on this one.
After all of that discussion, they decide to have a theme after all. Tarek asks Charmaine if, as PM, she is uncomfortable leading the team in a direction that she disagrees with. Charmaine says she’s not leading by consensus, but if they feel so strongly… then she will lead by consensus. In an interview, Tarek says that she goes back and forth too much. Considering that she flip-flopped in the course of one sentence, I can see where he’s coming from. Michael suggests the theme “Making You Happy.” The guys like it, and Charmaine thinks it’s acceptable. Tarek is frustrated because his PC is out of power, but that’s the last we hear of that, so I guess the crisis was averted.
And now for the Trump Lesson of the Week: “Watch Your Back.” Everybody wants Trumps job, so everybody is competition. Trump says you should fight back and win. It’s hard to have the top spot, so don’t give it up. Of course, with the Trump Lesson of the Week comes the Betsy Lesson of the Week. This week’s lesson: when you take your child for their first haircut, don’t just bring a camera- also bring tissues. I’ll explain more later. I’m sure you’re all on the edge of your seats, waiting to hear what I’m going to say, aren’t you?
Synergy offers 50% off of children’s haircuts, and Tammy and Sean talk it up to random people on the street. They enjoy working together. The two of them pass out flyers. Tammy calls the others and says that she and Sean are going to stop for pizza. She asks Allie and Roxanne to join them. Roxanne thinks Sean has flown under the radar and is “a crafty Brit.” Allie thinks that he “sold his soul” because he thought he’d get fired. They don’t think Tammy will be interested in him now. Silly Allie and Roxanne.
Tammy and Sean flirt over slices of pizza, which makes Tammy feel like she’s in high school again. Tammy says that the others think Sean is weak in character, but she doesn’t. For the record, I think Allie is being a gigantic baby about the whole thing. Just because Sean didn’t go after Andrea doesn’t suddenly make him evil. Tammy says that they have good chemistry. Sean says he’s happy that they got to go on a date. In an interview, Sean makes it perfectly clear that he totally lurves Tammy and even makes a growly noise. She’s beautiful and smart and “business-y.” He is “a young strapping chap from London” and anything could happen. Maybe they’ll have “lots and lots of babies” after this is all over. Sean then gets a dreamy look on his face that is adorable.
Charmaine directs Lee to stock the shelves. After that’s done, they’ll get the food set up. Lee asks Charmaine how she likes the shelf that he worked so hard on. She tells him that he did it all wrong. Lee wonders why they’re unpacking now while people are still awake. Wouldn’t it be better for them to do some marketing now and just stay up late setting up? He tells Charmaine this much, and she really doesn’t seem to be interested in what he has to say. She doesn’t feel like the team is respecting her. She then corrects Tarek, who also set up the shelf wrong. In case you’re wondering how you can set up a shelf of styling products incorrectly, the gist of it is that the guys should be setting up the shampoo next to its matching conditioner and so forth. Tarek jokes about how wrong they did things. Tarek says that Charmaine and Michael love paying attention to “idiotic crap” intead of what matters. Lee laments, “Three guys taking orders from a lady.” It’s such a stupid thing to say that I can’t even be bothered to hate him for it.
For the record, I’m with Lee and Tarek on this one. If they had more time to get ready for the task, then the small things that Charmaine is focusing on would make a big difference. But they only have one day to set up and one day of actual task, so their focus should be more on getting people in the door and less on minor details. I know salons make good money selling product, but considering how well staffed the place is going to be, I think they can spare the time for someone to help a customer find the right kind of mousse.
The next day dawns and Gold Rush begins the task. Lee and Tarek are to go out and put flyers on cars while Charmaine and Michael promote to people in the parking lot. Charmaine tries to approach a bald man. Lee and Tarek put flyers on cars, but they don’t think it’ll work. Lee thinks face to face contact would be better, but they don’t see anybody. Lee thinks that if they can get just two people to come in from using the flyers, it would be enough to win the task. I guess technically that’s possible, but since they’re selling inexpensive haircuts and not, like, diamonds, that seems unlikely to me.
Michael and Charmaine are nervous. They haven’t had a lot of people walking in. Michael walkies Lee. He and Tarek lie and say it’s going great. Tarek says that they have been frustrated with Charmaine for a long time. Michael hasn’t been around for as long, so he’s not as annoyed. The two wonder what Charmaine and Michael are up to. Tarek jokes that Charmaine must be getting her hair done.
Guess what Charmaine is doing? Yeah, getting her hair done. Bill arrives just in time to see her asking all kinds of questions about the merits of ceramic straightening. In the van, Tarek and Lee make fun of her. Tarek mocks her saying that she wishes they could all hold hands and love each other. Meanwhile, Charmaine tells Bill that as the only woman on the team, it’s hard to get the others to relate. She tells him that they had a hard time laying out the shelves, then we cut to Lee making fun of the five hours they spent stocking the shelves. Forget marketing! Let’s get the shampoo families together! The two guys talk about what they’re going to wear to the boardroom, apparently thinking it’s a foregone conclusion.
Meanwhile, Allie works her hardest to get people to buy products. It’s a lot faster to buy shampoo than it is to get a haircut, she reasons, so they can do better volume that way. She gets a big sale. A little boy gets his first haircut. Aw! This brings us back to the Betsy Lesson of the Week. My son got his first haircut a few weeks before he turned one. I was completely unprepared for how incredibly grown up he’d look with a proper little boy haircut and proceeded to sob for about an hour, both in the salon and as we walked through the mall. So, seriously: brace yourself and bring some tissues. But I digress. Tammy and Sean flirt outside. Tammy thinks that she led the team well and did a good job. Eh. It’s hard to say- we didn’t see much of what Tammy actually did. This bodes poorly for Gold Rush, of course.
The teams gather in the boardroom. Tammy feels confident. Charmaine says that foot traffic was low at first, but that the day ended strong. Tarek thought Charmaine was “average” as a project manager. Trump jokes, “So much for dating Charmaine.” Charmaine says it was over between them a long time ago. Carolyn reports on Synergy. They sold $363 worth of products, earning $1,005.47. Bill says that Gold Rush didn’t have much direction. They got just $700 total. Trump says it wasn’t even close. Hair Cuttery, Trump says, is “all about style,” so now they’ll meet the stylin’ Burt Bacharach. They will meet him at Steinway Hall and write a song with him. Maybe they’ll get rich. Yeah, maybe not.
It’s time for the boring reward. Roxanne talks about how prolific Burt Bacharach is. One of his new songs has no words, he says. It’s called “In Our Time,” and he wants them to think about lyrics. Allie is thinking laughter and tears, then Tammy thinks of rhyming careers with tears. Allie hates it. Tammy says that Allie ruins everything and makes Sean feel like an outcast. If only they could have love, like what the world needs now, she says, which is hysterical. They sing their song, and Roxanne has the best voice. It is boring. I wish they’d just eliminate rewards altogether.
Charmaine and Lee run into each other in the suite, and Charmaine says he hopes he doesn’t throw her under the bus. He says he won’t unless she attacks him. Lee thinks that if Charmaine went one on one with Tarek, her chances would be better. Trump, as we all know, thinks Tarek is over-rated. Charmaine thinks that Lee is the one on her team who is closest to being an ally. That is sad, because I never got the impression that they liked each other. At all. Lee wishes her luck.
Lee then talks to Tarek. Oh, sneaky! Tarek points out that Charmaine and Michael were in the store all day and didn’t sell any product. Tarek is confident that Lee will be on his side. Tarek thinks Lee is moral and doesn’t want to lie or be a snake.
Ironically, Lee then talks to Michael. He tells Michael that he thinks Charmaine is a good worker bee, unlike Tarek. He suggests to Michael that Tarek needs to go. Then, in an interview, Lee says he’s done ganging up on other people and conspiring. He is? He says he’s not supporting anyone. “I’m done with that.” He’s only going to protect himself.
In the Boardroom, Charmaine looks nervous. She says that they lost because they failed to capitalize on selling product. That made all the difference. She doesn’t think she was a bad PM, nor does she think she was at fault. To Carolyn, she clarifies- it’s not that she takes no ownership of the loss, it’s that she doesn’t think she was the reason for it. Carolyn asks what their plan was. Were they just going to put flyers on cars? Charmaine wanted one-on-one interactions. Carolyn says they had five stylists doing nothing. Bill says that Charmaine had her hair done instead of selling. She thinks that someone needed to go through “the process.” She wanted to know what made it different. Bill points out that there were only three hours left. She should have been looking for customers. Yeah, and come on, Charmaine. It’s the Hair Cuttery. The thing that makes “the process” different is that it’s a really inexpensive place to get your hair cut. That’s it. You don’t have to get a $15 haircut to understand how to sell one.
Trump asks Lee how Charmaine did. Lee plays it safe, saying that there were “missed opportunities.” It wasn’t his fault they lost, and he wasn’t hard to manage. Trump says that Lee is a politician, and for the first time, I can certainly see it. Charmaine says Tarek was harder to manage. Michael agrees. All four should work together, and if one person causes problems, it’s an issue. Carolyn smirks. Trump says that was well stated. Tarek starts to interrupt, but Trump won’t have it. Michael says he believes it in his heart, so it’s easy to speak in such lovely flowers and such. Tarek laughs at how dramatic he is. I’m with you, Tarek.
Charmaine says she and Tarek argue a lot. Tarek says that she is an emotional roller coaster. According to Charmaine, Tarek never relinquished the original title of PM after the first task. He takes too much control. He disagrees. He says that Charmaine leads by consensus and is ineffective. Charmaine says that there is no right or wrong answer in a creative task. Tarek says they were trying to support her, and that she’s sensitive. She says he’s cried twice, Charmaine argues, and it had nothing to do with him. Michael robotically says, “For the record, Charmaine did not cry during this task.” Charmaine says that she never cries “during business.” Trump doesn’t like crying.
Tarek says she wants everyone to love each other. Trump thinks the guys should have taken advantage of that, and he is “not a genius.” Gross, Trump. Tarek says that looking for an angle to win the task is not like going against the team. Charmaine talks about how well she gets along with Lee and Michael, but Carolyn doesn’t care who her friends are. Trump thinks Charmaine gets along with everyone but Tarek. That’s probably only because she doesn’t know how much crap Lee talks about her behind her back. She thinks the team wants her back. Lee says Charmaine is easy to work with. Trump asks if Tarek is better. Lee hops on the fence and says that he worked hard. Carolyn calls him on his non answers and asks if Charmaine is an easier competitor for him. Lee says it’s a tough choice between the two, but she was the PM. Carolyn and Bill smirk at how political he’s being. Carolyn pushes for a straight answer. Lee stammers all over it.
Tarek says he’d fire Charmaine, no doubt. Charmaine says she has never been to the boardroom. Tarek says she’s incapable of running anything. They bicker back and forth. He says she’s the most negative person. Trump disagrees. Tarek calls her a whiner and a nagger. Michael disagrees. Tarek says Michael doesn’t know any better, since he’s relatively new to the team. Trump doesn’t think she’s negative. She’s attractive. Trump makes me sick sometimes. What does the fact that Charmaine is pretty have to do with anything? The team lost, Trump says, because of bad decisions and bad leadership. Chamaine can’t control the “maniac” Tarek. Trump brings up Mensa again. Is Tarek a genius or not? Oh, get off it already! A leader must be able to control the team, and Charmaine failed to do so. Charmaine is fired.
Everyone starts to leave, but not so fast! Trump says that Tarek is “impossible to lead.” Tarek asks for another chance. Trump thinks he’s inconsistent, and is good leader, but a bad follower. He’s impossible to lead, and a great leader must know how to be lead. Tarek is fired.
Trump says it was an obvious choice. Carolyn thinks it could have gone either way. Bill straddles the fence. Trump thinks they’ll fight all the way home. He’s got that one wrong. They have an awkward, silent ride home. It is worth noting that they are both really hot.
I didn’t like the way this episode ended. Charmaine should have been fired, there is no doubt, but not for the reasons Trump listed. She didn’t lose because she couldn’t control Tarek. She lost because she had absolutely no plan, other than putting flyers under the windshields of cars, for getting increased foot traffic in the store. And once people were there, she didn’t make any kind of effort to up sell anyone or to get Michael to do that. Her only plan was the flyers, and that’s a terrible plan. I absolutely hate it when people put flyers on my car, and if I got one, I’d honestly be less likely to go to Hair Cuttery as a result because I’d be so annoyed by it. Instead of focusing on the minutia of where to put the conditioner, Charmaine should have been paying attention to how to increase sales.
As for Tarek, he was going to be fired eventually. Trump has had it in for Tarek for weeks, so it was only a matter of time before he threw that Mensa thing in his face one more time and gave him the boot. But why fire him this week? He did question some of Charmaine’s decisions, but I think he was right. If they gave the event a theme, it might be easier to market it. She could have just said no if she disagreed strongly, since she was in charge. She told him to put flyers on cars, and that’s what he did, just like Lee did. Tarek did spend a lot of time making fun of Charmaine, but so did Lee. The loss was no more his fault than it was Lee’s or Michael’s.
Next week, we’re down to the final six candidates. The task has something to do with college football, so be ready for Trump to ogle cheerleaders.
Betsy Wasser is the Associate Editor of Reality News Online. She can be reached with any comments at email@example.com