The Apprentice: Los Angeles, Episode 4 – A Passion for Chicken Suitsby Betsy Wasser -- 01/29/2007
Heidi’s team has a pow-wow to talk about their direction moving forward. She says that they need to maintain their strong dynamic. In an interview, she says that her team is more reserved than Team Arrow. To prove that point, we see the other team drinking wine out of plastic cups and talking about cheese doodles. Awesome. I have to say, Arrow seems like a lot more fun, but maybe they do need to take things more seriously. Trump calls, and Marisa and Aaron answer. Trump lets everyone know that Michelle has quit and that he hates quitters. Because Arrow has been decimated and is “pathetic,” (for the record, they’ve lost two challenges to Kinetic and Kinetic didn’t compete in the third, so I’m not sure how pathetic that is) he wants someone from Kinetic to join Arrow.
There is a long, awkward pause. Heidi says she’s trying to get some consensus about who will go. Arrow is amused by this turn of events, but the faces at Kinetic are grave. Heidi volunteers to do it, but Aimee, Marisa, and Surya all say they’re willing. Aaron requests Surya, who heads outside to join his new team. Trump tells them to meet him the next morning for their next task.
Aaron says that they need to embrace Surya with “a huge hug.” As Surya walks out the door, he tells Kinetic to keep up the good work. Aaron says that although he doesn’t know him well, he can tell from Surya’s body language that he’s calm and level-headed. Aaron thinks they need someone like him for balance. Surya is indeed covered in love bombs by his new teammates, and Frank immediately offers him a beer. Three Kinetic members wave at Surya over the hedge.
Surya is all business. He’s been there for two seconds and has already pulled out a notebook. He says that the team needs need discipline and structure. In an interview, he says that he has a broad experience and can make the changes they need. He tells the others that he thought there was a reasonable chance that he’d end up joining their team, and has given some thought to how they might handle things. In fact, he has some rules to share. He wants them to be open and to feel like someone has your back at all times. There shouldn’t be instances of letting someone fail, for example, so they can use it in the Boardroom. They need a clear chain of command… and with that, we see a montage of Surya giving a long list of ideas as the rest of the team wanders around restlessly. Surya asks if he’s being annoying. Poor guy. It sounded to me like everything he had to say was valid, but it was the wrong way to bring it all up.
Trump has one of his usual fake conversations with a fellow executive. I’m sure it will surprise no one to hear that business is booming. They join the candidates, and Trump introduces the latest Apprentice winner Sean, who will be his viceroy for the task. Trump blathers about the importance of cars to Los Angeles, which sedgeways awkwardly into the fact that people eat in their cars. Drive through restaurants are huge. The two executives from El Pollo Loco, Steve and Karen, will aid Sean in overseeing the task. The teams must create, promote, and sell a new version of the pollo bowl. Heidi and Aaron are Project Managers.
The two teams start putting their bowls together. For Arrow, Stefani creates the “chicken tortilla bowl,” which everyone on the team loves. Kinetic loves their bowl as well. Kristine put mango pineapple into it, which sounds darned tasty. Derek and Marisa will handle Kinetic’s the marketing. They need to come up with a name. The main group – that is, everybody but Marisa and Derek - likes Paradise Pollo Bowl. Marisa thinks “Bravado” would be better, a nod to the boldness of combining spicy with sweet. Derek shrugs and tells her that she’ll have to convince Heidi of it. Can you tell that the team is starting to lose their love for PM For Life Heidi? Marisa tells her that the name is not original. She suggests some taglines, and Heidi nixes them without discussion. Marisa calls her back with more ideas – someone in a huge chicken costume at a busy intersection. Heidi nixes that one too. Marisa sighs. She calls again to suggest some slogans based on Bravado.
In an interview, Derek says that Marisa has no idea how abrasive she can be sometimes. It doesn’t matter what they name the bowl; it matters that they get the word out. He tells Marisa to drop the Bravado idea. Marisa thinks that she owes it to the team to fight these battles. She says in an interview that her ideas are being suffocated by the group. She will dissent if she thinks something’s wrong. Marisa calls again, to push Bravado. Heidi rolls her eyes.
Aaron tastes his bowl and totally loves it. He tells the team that they’re going “from outhouse to penthouse.” He has balloons all over the store and signs promoting the new bowl. James holds up signs outside. Tim works the register and suggests the bowl to a customer in a friendly and effective way. Things seem to be going well, but it’s time for a bigger push. Frank and Tim go out to get bulk sales in time for the lunch rush. Aaron says it was a risk sending two of his strongest team members out for business that they might not even get.
Things are looking awfully quiet in Kinetic’s restaurant. They don’t seem to have any special signage or anything. Sean visits gets a status report from Heidi. The team seems very organized, and Marisa and Derek are outside giving out samples. They’re wearing their suits, which is kind of off putting. I think it would be weird to drive up to a fast food restaurant and have someone in a suit offer me some chicken. They’d have been better off just wearing the uniforms. Marisa thinks that the chicken costumes would have been more attention catching. Compare to what they’re doing, she is absolutely right.
Arrow is backed up with tons of customers. Surya explains that they need to be more efficient. He thinks that sending Frank and Tim away was a mistake. He tells Aaron to bring them back. Aaron explains in an interview that Surya is more conservative than he is, and that he needs to do something bold in order to win.
Tim visits and office and he and Frank score an order of 22 bowls. Aaron is thrilled. He says in an interview that he wonders if it’s too good to be true. Ooh, don’t tempt the Irony Gods that way!
The teams file into the Boardroom for their results. Trump barks at everyone to take their hats off. Aaron says he thinks his team won. Heidi says that her team is full of hard workers. Sean reports that Kinetic had limited marketing strategy and could have pushed harder at point of sale. They brought in $315 and change. Arrow showed “enormous spirit” and sold $480-some dollars, thanks in part to the big sale. They all celebrate as Marisa looks tense. Trump thinks that Surya must have had a positive impact. For their reward, they will go to Malibu for a performance by Andrea Bocelli. Afterwards, they’ll see a fireworks display on the beach. Aaron will be Project Manager again next week and will sit in on the boardroom. Kinetic will be sent to the tents.
Tim and Aaron celebrate. Frank packs, and Nicole grins from ear to ear. Kinetic is much quieter. They feel a little humility will be good for them. Arrow races into the mansion, thrilled. They guys dive into the pool fully dressed. Stefani resists getting thrown in after them.
Kinetic is horrified at the mess that Arrow left the camp in. Muna says she respects them a lot less after seeing the disgusting state of the place. She claims it’s not just messy – it’s filthy. Muna says she’s not going to shed a tear over moving, as it’s only temporary.
Arrow’s reward is a concert on the beach with Andrea Bocelli. Aaron says that it was amazing to see. Frank says that his family listens to Bocelli’s music every Sunday. He can’t wait to tell his mother about the concert. They’re thrilled to have finally won. Meanwhile, the others cook on a camp stove, no lobster with drawn butter in sight. Tim plays the piano, which just makes him even hotter. I definitely made the right choice with him as my boyfriend. Nicole feels the Tim love, too. They watch a fireworks display. It’s hard to be wowed by fireworks on TV, but they all seem to really enjoy it.
Back at camp, Heidi dreads that she is going to have to bring someone into the boardroom. She’s thinking she needs to bring in one cashier and one marketing person, since they lost at point of sale and marketing. Aimee says that they sold as well as they could, given the lack of traffic. Heidi wonders what they could have done differently. Derek snickers, “chicken suits,” then says he’s laughing because he had to listen to Marisa (who we see putting on makeup) all day long. Heidi thinks they are there to run a business. Marisa is the only person she feels she has to manage. Kristine and Aimee agree that Marisa should go, for the strength of the team.
Kinetic goes to the Boardroom for the first time. The Pollo Loco executives think that marketing was to blame for the loss. The team gathers in the Boardroom. Kristine says that she came up with the recipe, and she doesn’t think they lost based on taste. Trump isn’t impressed with the fruit-chicken combo. Aaron thinks his team won based on price and quantity. Sean adds that Arrow did a good job of selling. They convinced people to order something different. Jennifer, Kristine, and Aimee didn’t do that. Jennifer thinks that marketing was weak. Marisa says that her “outside the box” idea was shot down immediately by Heidi. Sean says that the other team created a spectacle, showing that something different was going on. Marisa keeps trying to interrupt Sean by saying that’s what she wanted to do. Sean says their restaurant looked “like any other normal day.”
Trump asks Marisa who shot her down. She says that the entire rest of the team did, saying that people in chicken suits wouldn’t fit “the integrity of the restaurant.” Marisa points out, quite rightly, that a place called The Crazy Chicken doesn’t exactly take itself that seriously. Heidi rolls her eyes. Marisa thinks her idea would have been excellent. Muna says that Marisa needs to improve her listening, pointing out that she has interrupted several times. Trump says that Marisa does, however, have a great spirit. Like a moron, Marisa interrupts him, a point that Trump immediately latches on to. Muna says that they are a group, and Marisa is not a good team player. Marisa says that she’ll vocalize it when she doesn’t agree, and feels like she’s always dismissed. Heidi dismisses that idea. Heh.
Aaron thinks Marisa has a leg to stand on. Heidi doesn’t think they lost for lack of chicken suits. Marisa says that the team also shot down the name Bravado Bowl, which she says was Derek’s idea. Trump tells Marisa to take it easy. Aimee says that Marisa is the weakest member of the team. She has great ideas, but they all do, and she needs to let it go sometimes. Marisa says she needs to stand up for what she believes in. And she believes, apparently, in chicken suits. She thinks Aimee should be fired – she was the weak link. Well, that was random. Aimee argues that her job was drive-through sales. She thinks that Marisa is disruptive. Derek says that Marisa is the weakest, as does Kristine. Marisa says that they are ambushing her.
Heidi chooses to bring Marisa and Aimee back. Sean says he likes Marisa’s spirit and passion. Aaron says that he’s a sales guy, and he can’t tell who was in charge of sales. The three women return to the Boardroom. Trump asks Heidi what he should do. Heidi says that she’s taken the team to two wins, so she shouldn’t be fired. She brought Aimee back because she was part of the sales team. Was she in charge? No. Heidi says that she thought it was interesting that Marisa named Aimee as the one she’d fire. Aimee says that she tried her best to sell the bowl. Trump says Aimee wasn’t that great of a seller.
Marisa says that her idea was a good one. Heidi sighs that Marisa can’t let it go. Marisa doesn’t think she should be back there. Trump says that the entire rest of the team named her. Trump says she was in charge of marketing, but only seems to have come up with one idea. Marisa says that she had more ideas than that. Trump says that he has to go with what the rest of the team said, and they all named Marisa. Marisa is fired.
Trump says it wasn’t easy, and of course, the two viceroys agree that he had no other choice. Heaven forbid anyone should tell Trump he fired the wrong person. Marisa gets in the Cab of Defeat as Heidi and Aimee look on. She says that she thinks they’d have won if the team had listened to her. The restaurant has a mascot, and they should have used it.
On one hand, it makes sense to fire Marisa. Marketing is more than just the name of the product (which is certainly not the reason the team lost) or any one promotional idea. If the rest of the team nixed the idea of chicken suits, Marisa should have come up with something different. She should have had multiple ideas to push, not just one. The marketing ideas that Arrow came up with weren’t exactly revolutionary. They got some balloons and made banners, then followed that up with a sold sales effort. It wasn’t exactly brain surgery, but it worked. As the person in charge of marketing, Marisa should have done more.
On the other hand, it is crazy to me that Kinetic’s sales and marketing efforts were as pitiful as they were. Shouldn’t the Project Manager take responsibility for the way the task was run? If Heidi didn’t like any of Marisa’s ideas, she should have put someone else on marketing, at the very least coming up with something other than free samples. She didn’t designate anybody in charge of sales. The team didn’t show the same kind of energy that Arrow did, and I think that goes from the top down. If I had been in Trump’s shoes, I would have asked Heidi a lot more probing questions than he did. Perhaps she, as the person in charge, should have used her staff to better effect.
There’s no Apprentice next week, but the task we’ll see in two weeks somehow involves bees. Get ready to enjoy the honey of victory and the sting of defeat. See you then.
Betsy Wasser is the Associate Editor of Reality News Online. She can be reached with any comments at betsywasser@gmail..com