The Apprentice Los Angeles Sneak Preview: Pitching a Tentby Betsy Wasser -- 01/05/2007
It’s almost time for the sixth season of The Apprentice. If you want a quick snapshot of this season’s changes and an introduction to the candidates, check out my preview article. If you’re really excited about the show and just can’t wait until the premiere on Sunday night, then you’re in luck. NBC has posted the first 20 minutes of the show on their website. Here’s a recap of what happened.
Trump calls his wife Melania from his car phone. He tells her that he’ll see her in Los Angeles soon, and we hear their son Barron coo adorably in the background. Trump introduces himself, as if we didn’t know him already, especially given his current feud with Rosie O’Donnell. Trump drives past some palm trees in a gorgeous convertible and tells us that he loves L.A. and is building a house there. But at the same time, of course, he is looking for someone to run one of his companies. He wants to find someone who is a problem solver and an ace negotiator – someone who will be his next Apprentice. There are 18 candidates vying for the job, and Trump says that they are a talented group with diverse backgrounds.
Trump arrives at the mansion where he has a temporary office, complete with boardroom. Melania and Barron (who is totally cute) greet him. The three gaze seriously at the camera (okay, Barron might not look that serious) as Trump tells us that only one candidate will be the next Apprentice.
The candidates arrive in the reality TV standard fleet of black SUVs, meeting Trump in the driveway of the mansion next to his. Trump welcomes them and promises them “a very, very tough time.” All of the candidates briefly introduce themselves. They all seem very confident in their impressive resumes, but one of them in particular seems to make an impression on those assembled. That’s Angela, an Olympic medalist and Harvard graduate. Trump says he saw her play and gives her a hug. Several more candidates introduce themselves, then we come to Martin, who tells Trump that he’ll hug him too if he can take a bathroom break. Trump, ever the harsh one, tells him to hold it. If I were in a job interview and the prospective boss wouldn’t let me use the restroom, I’d be out of there in a flash, but none of the candidates seem to see this as a red flag.
Introductions over, Trump tells the candidates that they’ll get to know each other by completing a task together. He directs them to the yard next to the mansion and tells them to assemble a large tent. Once the tent is up, they will meet him in the boardroom.
The candidates swarm on the tent box like very well dressed mice on a glob of peanut butter. Things are pretty chaotic at first, but Heidi yells for everyone to pay attention to her. She says she’s done a lot of camping and knows what she’s doing. People follow Heidi’s directions. But then, Angela tells us in an interview, Frank decides to take over.
Frank does that loud whistle with his fingers in his mouth, which my mom used to do and I could hear from about six blocks away. He tells them to pull together all of the bases, to make sure they have all the pieces they need. James says that Frank is frenetic, like a cartoon character. Trump, watching from a window, observes that Frank has a loud voice and yells at him to keep it down. Ironic.
Let’s step back for a minute and look at what’s going on. Frank’s idea – having everyone find the bases so they can start there – is a good one. It’s kind of like putting together the flat edges when you make a jigsaw puzzle. Unfortunately, his approach was off putting. Heidi was doing just fine leading the group. Things seemed to be running smoothly. But Frank, it seems, couldn’t leave well enough alone. Heidi wasn’t quiet when she took charge either. It’s not like her yelling was more pleasant than his whistling. But the difference is that when Heidi got everyone’s attention, there was no one steering the ship. He was desperate to take charge, so he steamrollered over everyone else.
Anyway, the tent building continues. Frank notices that Martin is standing on a rock watching everyone else. In an interview, Martin explains that he was taking “a supervisory role,” to unify the group. Something tells me that others won’t see it quite the same way. The tent is complete, and everyone gives a group cheer of “TRUMP!” They group walks over to the mansion, wondering what’s going to happen next. Aaron thinks maybe someone will go home already.
The candidates meet in the boardroom, where they are joined by Trump and his awesome daughter Ivanka. Trump tells everyone that Ivanka will act as his eyes and ears, and that he will have “a special guest” join them in the other chair later on. He asks the group if putting up the tent was hard, and someone says that there were too many chefs. Frank, though, says that the tent is nice and, “I’d sleep in it tonight.” Poor guy. Little does he know that’s a real possibility. Trump asks him who the best leader was. Frank, too modest to answer himself, names Heidi. James says that both Frank and Heidi were active, vocal, and stepped up to take charge. Trump names the two of them team captains and the first project managers.
The two pick teams. Heidi gets Derek, Amy, Marissa, Angela, Surya, Christine, Muna, and Jenn. Frank selects Carey, Tim, Aaron, Nicole, James, Stephanie, Michelle, and last of all, Martin. Martin is upset at being last picked. In an interview, he says that people don’t like him at first, but tend to warm up to him later. “At first, they can be standoffish.” Oh, Martin. Do you really think that every other person in the universe is at fault here? That it’s not, maybe, you who is the problem?
It’s time to get back to work. For the first task, the candidates will run a car wash. The team with the most money at the end wins. The losers will go to the boardroom, and the winning project manager will remain project manager until his or her team loses. Ivanka, of course, will observe.
Frank’s team gathers at a car wash, and the first order of business is that old Apprentice favorite: running to Kinko’s to make flyers. They quickly agree on a base price of $10, with optional upgrades. Martin says that the scene was absolute bedlam, comparing it to the beach and Normandy. Someone else says, “Frank led like a hyperactive three-year-old on grape soda.” Alas, we don’t know who said it. More’s the pity.
Frank grabs Aaron, and the two of them take off to make flyers. Unfortunately, the team hasn’t yet set the upsell prices. Tim decides to take over, gathers everyone together, and quickly sets three price points. Frank then calls them and tells everyone to hurry up and get some cars in. He’s afraid the other team is already making money while they stand around. He wants the women in the street pulling in business. To the women’s credit, when they change clothes it is not, as I’d feared, into bikinis, but rather shorts and tank tops. Big love to the women for their lack of skankiness!
Meanwhile, Frank and Aaron run like crazy to Kinko’s, not quite sure where they’re going. In an interview, Tim says they’d better come back with something really great to make it worth this effort.
Heidi’s team is also hard at work. They quickly grab pieces of cardboard and make really crappy looking signs that offer a free lunch with a car wash. Heidi explains that their car wash is located in a gay neighborhood, so they hired some guys to stand at the street shirtless holding their signs. Is it sad that I find it a wee bit of progress when this show exploits men instead of just women? Yeah, I think it’s sad.
Ivanka arrives, and tells Amy that she’s surprised that they’re not doing more detailing. Amy says that they are going for volume, rather than the more expensive but slower service. In an interview, Ivanka observes that it’s an interesting strategy. She’s not sure if it’ll work. Ivanka then says hi to one of the shirtless guys. He asks, “You want to take your shirt off and help us out?” Ivanka laughs and politely declines.
Let’s just take a moment to think about how our dear departed Carolyn would have shot ice daggers into that guy for asking her that. It would have been a thing of beauty.
Over at Frank’s car wash, the flyers are finally there. The team does their best to yell at passing cars and show them the flyers, but the papers are just too small. In an interview, Carey says that while he loves Frank’s enthusiasm, they really need signs to be effective. He grabs someone (Frank, I think) to buy some posterboard and markers at a nearby store. Nice work, Carey.
Just then, Ivanka arrives and is surprised that Frank isn’t around. Aaron shrugs and says that Frank is delegating well. It’s nice to see that he’s not ready to immediately badmouth the team leader. Ivanka notes that they really need signs. Aaron tells her that he’s tired, and Ivanka laughs that it’s awfully early for that. Meanwhile, Martin wanders aimlessly, no cars to wash.
Heidi’s team has the opposite problem. Cars are backed up and they don’t have enough people washing. Surya wonders if maybe their marketing was too effective. Customers are getting frustrated, so Heidi gathers everyone around and assigns them to new tasks, concentrating on washing cars. She crouches down in her lovely suit to scrub someone’s car. Marissa says that everyone pitched in. Angela says that the only reason she can think of that they’d lose is if things are a little too chaotic.
Franks’ group is finally getting some customers. James says that two-thirds of the way into the task, they got signs, and it seems to really be making a difference. Tim, Martin, and James are working on up-selling the customers, and Martin appears to be failing. Martin sees it differently, explaining that he has a more subtle approach. He says that there’s an old saying: Drip, drip, drip, water cracks the stone. He is like that water. As the day ends, James notices that Martin is reviewing a little notebook with his sales in it. James takes that to mean that Martin is worried that his efforts might not have been good enough – he and Tim aren’t at all concerned about how much they sold.
Time’s up! The candidates all gather in front of the mansion. Frank is confident, saying that they had a constant flow of traffic and did lots of up sells. Heidi is proud of her hardworking team. Both, of course, think they won. Who did win? I guess we’ll find out Sunday, because the preview ends there.
I’m not feeling a whole lot of suspense. The lack of signage was a huge problem for Team Frank for most of the task. Plus, we saw two potential people to blame for a loss – Frank and Martin. From what we saw of Heidi’s team, there really wasn’t anyone falling down on the job. Of course, I could be wrong, and those sneaky editors might be trying to trick me. I’ll see you on Sunday night to find out what’s next.
Betsy Wasser is the Associate Editor of Reality News Online. She can be reached with any comments at firstname.lastname@example.org