The Apprentice: Los Angeles, Episode 5 – A Honey of a Taskby Betsy Wasser -- 02/12/2007
As Heidi, Marisa, and Aimee fight in the Boardroom, the rest of Kinetic hopes Marisa gets fired. They’re in luck, and Trump gives her the axe. The team cheers when Amiee and Heidi return. Heidi says it was strange to be on the losing side. She notes that Aaron didn’t say much in the Boardroom. Over the hedge, Aaron says that he did not at all enjoy his experience. Heidi laughs and says now he knows how she’s felt all these weeks.
Aaron tells the team about how Trump admonished him for being quiet. He tells the group that it honestly wasn’t much fun being on the other side of the table. You don’t want to put your neck on the line, he adds.
The next morning, Trump tells last season’s winner Sean that he’ll be out of town and will need Sean to watch the task. Trump tells Aaron again that he wasn’t very vocal in the Boardroom. Aaron says that he let Trump take the lead. Trump goes into his traditionally long transitions about the task, including a claim that he loves honey. Right. Anyway, the candidates will work with Sue Bee Honey, harvesting, bottling, and selling honey in Ralph’s supermarkets. The team with the most money wins.
Stefani admits that she is “scared out of her wits” of the bees. She can’t believe that a tiny thin suit is the only thing separating her from the bees. Frank freaks Stefani out further by talking about how bees smell fear. But, she tries to stay calm and works with the rest of the team. Frank gives Stefani a thumbs up (literally) for facing her fears and getting right in there.
Aaron, Surya, and James brainstorm as to how to sell the honey. Surya feels really confident that he can contribute, since this is so similar to his normal job as a brand manager. Surya says that the packaging needs to show versatility and an “RTB” or reason to believe. James thinks that Surya is making everything too complicated – he’s robotic and uses too much business jargon. James says all they have to do is make honey and sell it. “Revenue maximization,” answers Surya. James looks at him incredulously and says, “Making money?” I like James.
Aimee is the Project Manager for Kinetic. She and Jenn review packaging while the rest of the team harvests the honey. They have worse luck with it than Arrow did – Derek gets stung through his suit. Ouch. The team was away for quite a while getting the honey and expects Aimee and Jenn to have accomplished a lot. Then they arrive and discover that the two of them have stalled out on naming the honey. Come on, people. Like James said, just make it and sell it. Ooh, or maybe name the honey “Bravado” to really rankle the departed Marisa. Kristine is incredulous and thinks that Aimee needs to step up and get things done. In about two seconds, they come up with the name Bee More. Kristine is not impressed with Aimee so far.
Over at Arrow, Frank explains how the team works the production lines. It’s very I Love Lucy and Tim keeps clogging up the production line. Nicole thinks that Tim’s poor honey managing skills and subsequent argument with Frank, are adorable. Of course, Nicole seems to think pretty much everything Tim does is adorable. She says that they can have a good time anywhere, a testament to their team’s passion and spirit. Frank and Tim continue to tease each other, and Tim threatens to “pour honey on your ugly fat face.” Frank cracks up.
Kinetic heads to Ralph’s, completely unprepared. They don’t even have pricing. Derek notes that Aimee hasn’t delegated anything. He and Muna frantically unload honey while Heidi and Angela hang a sign announcing that it’s honey day. Aimee stands in the aisle aimlessly. Kristine notes that if they win, they’re stuck with her as Project Manager. Derek shudders at the thought.
Meanwhile, Arrow has their act together. Not only do they have a price on the honey, but they also have a lovely sample tray with honey on different foods. Stefani gives a soft sell to a customer, and Frank hugs another. Stefani is doing this thing where she wears her glasses down low on her nose, and it makes her look like a naughty librarian. She happily reports that they are selling honey three bottles at a time. But then, Surya joins her at her chef’s station and completely disrupts the flow of what she was doing. The naughty librarian selling you honey does not need some random guy standing with her. Stefani is frustrated.
While the rest of the team works at Ralph’s, Tim and Nicole go out to do bulk sales. Tim says that they are going to focus on gas stations and bakeries. What, really? Gas stations? Bakeries, sure, that makes sense. They’ll either use it or sell it to their customers. But a gas station? I know, they sell groceries, and there may well be a bottle of honey at my local gas station’s convenient mart, but something tells me that’s not the kind of thing they move too quickly. You might pop in there after you get gas because you’re running low on milk or bread, but honey is not such an emergency. That one bottle of honey is gathering dust, would be my guess.
Anyway, Tim says Nicole is a lot of fun and that he’s attracted to her. They work well together, he says. The fact that they are wearing matching black suits can’t hurt. They go to several places, but don’t seem to be getting anywhere. No doubt because the gas stations they went to just dusted off the bottle of honey they’ve had since 1985 and figured they didn’t need anymore. Tim tells the rest of the team to sell their hearts out, because they’re not having much luck.
Stefani sends Aaron out with a tray of food, saying he has the face for selling. He says that he hates sales, then explains that he does it every day. Stefani is frustrated, saying that he didn’t seem to be doing much, just overseeing everything. Well, he is the Project Manager. He should be overseeing everything.
Sean comes by to check things out. James tells him that Aaron has a “laid back” management style. Sean doesn’t seem impressed, and we see a shot of Aaron staring aimlessly in front of a sample tray.
Things don’t look much better at Kinetic. Aimee’s sales pitch consists of her saying, “Are you sure you don’t want some?” Derek decides to take action. He puts on the bee suit to “generate some buzz” that way. The pun, amazingly, seems to be unintentional. He talks up the shoppers and shows where he got stung. They love him. The team decides to step things up further, putting Angela in a track suit and pointing out that she has an Olympic gold medal. Very smart of them to exploit that. I mean, why not use your advantages? Angela says that she and Derek decided not to give up and to really push for a win. Derek says that things are looking up despite Aimee, but he still thinks they’ll lose.
The teams gather in the Boardroom and Sean puts Trump on speaker. Trump is at a public speaking engagement as he takes the call. Arrow, Sean reports, sold $775 worth of honey. Kinetic sold $836. Wow, I was not expecting that. Kinetic’s reward will be the opportunity to shot baskets with the L.A. Lakers. Kinetic will also move back into the house, plus Aimee will be Project Manager again next week and will join Trump and Sean in the Boardroom.
Arrow packs up their bags and returns to the tents. Frank happily greets his grill again. “This sucks,” sighs Nicole. She hates camp more knowing how much better things are in the mansion. “Seriously, it’s not even funny anymore, it’s just got to end,” she says, echoing the feelings that all of the viewers of the show have about the stupid tent twist. This “haves and have nots” twist was mildly interesting for about two episodes, but now I find it tedious.
Kinetic goes to play with the Lakers. Muna says that it was an honor to meet Phil Jackson, and that he was taller than expected. An even bigger thrill would have to be playing with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. Kobe, alas, is not there. The coaches talk about the importance of playing like a team, compensating for team members’ weakness when need be. Derek thinks that lesson is valuable and well-timed. Aimee says that everybody was fired up from the reward.
Arrow sighs about being forced to go to another Boardroom. Surya has yet to go and is really not looking forward to it.
James says that Aaron has a lot to think about. He says Aaron can’t be laid-back in the Boardroom. He’s going to have to go for the kill. Aaron tells the guys that he’s definitely bringing in Surya. Since Surya is a brand manager, he should have been an asset, but his theory and statistics slowed them down. Elsewhere, Nicole asks Surya if he’s excited about his first Boardroom. Surya says that it’s “a complete unknown” for him. Nicole thinks that he, Tim, and Aaron will be the final three in the Boardroom. Surya thinks Aaron was a bad leader. But, he notes, the rest of the team has bonded and it would be easier for them if he were fired. Surya leans over the hedge and tells Derek his concerns. Derek promises to talk to Aimee to see if that’ll help. After Derek fills her in, Aimee promises she’ll be fair and will not let Arrow ambush Surya just because they’re tight. “I will not let him go down,” she promises.
Arrow arrives in the Boardroom. Nicole says it stinks being back in the tents. They had a sense of victory and it was stolen back from them. Surya says losing feels terrible. He thinks they lost because they relied on their sales ability alone. He says that Aaron is to blame for the loss. He’s a great guy, but he has to blame the Project Manager. Surya thinks there was a lack of leadership. Trump asks if Aaron was quiet, adding that he was very quiet in the Boardroom last week. Of course if you’re not braying as loudly as humanly possible, Trump apparently can’t here you. Sean says that it was Aaron’s chance to impress Trump and that he missed an opportunity.
Aaron says he values his words very greatly and will speak up that night. The breakdown came from sales and preliminary marketing. Aaron says Surya didn’t contribute anything. James agrees, saying Surya has great book smarts, but couldn’t come up with solid plans. Aimee asks if everything was up to Surya, or if the rest of the team was involved. Surya says that he expected Aaron to tell him that he was in charge of marketing, but that it never happened.
Trump laments that when the team won, they loved Surya, but now that they’ve lost, nobody loves him. It is, of course, not that simple. When the team won, they had no reason to say anything bad about Surya, so he didn’t hear it. He’s not hearing any complaints from Kinetic about Aimee right now, but that doesn’t mean they love her. Aimee says she’s been in marketing activities with Surya and he’s capable of good things.
Trump asks Arrow what they think of Aimee being so tough. Aaron says he respects it. Aimee says that she is going to be as fair as possible, so she intends to ask blunt and direct questions. The rest of the team has no problem with her approach.
Nicole says that given what Trump has been saying, she’d have to fire Aaron. It sounds like Trump is not impressed with him, she adds. Aaron says he’d have appreciated some direction from Trump before the last Boardroom and would have been more vocal if need be. Sean says he should just be himself. Trump says that there’s a lot of middle ground between Aimee, who is being “a hard ass” when she “almost got her ass fired” last week. Since we’re using the word “ass” so freely, I’d like to add that Trump is being an ass for saying the word “ass” in a business setting twice in the same sentence.
Stefani would fire Surya because he didn’t contribute to the marketing efforts and because he harmed her in her sales attempts. She thinks he should have been at his own assigned station. Tim says they didn’t have much foot traffic, and he blames that on lack of marketing and Aaron. He adds that he wasn’t in the store, but out with Nicole. He agrees with Trump that Nicole is a star. Frank asks Trump to see if Tim would marry Nicole. Nicole turns bright red. Tim doesn’t want to talk about it in the Boardroom. Trump tells him that if he marries Nicole he’ll be his hero.
Frank says that Surya disappointed them by not coming up with any great marketing plans. He also says Surya didn’t have his own sales station. “So you would fire his ass,” asks Trump, perhaps being sponsored by the Ass Saying Society (ASS), a group that encourages the regular use of the word “ass” in conversation.
Aaron chooses Surya and Nicole to go back to the Boardroom. He doesn’t think Nicole should be fired, but there was no revenue from outside sales. Trump is surprised that he’s picked Nicole. Trump sends them back to their “disgusting tents” and tells Stefani she “better get [her] ass going.” Ass!
The three bring their asses back to the Boardroom. Oops, sorry. Must be contagious. Nicole says she has no idea why she’s back. She worked with Tim, and Trump tells her that Tim is “smitten” with her. He tells her not to break his heart. He then says it’s more interesting than what Aaron’s saying. Maybe it wouldn’t be if Trump would shut up and let Aaron speak.
Surya says that Aaron didn’t sell and was a poor leader. “Other than that, he was excellent,” Trump says sarcastically. Surya says that Aimee has seen him in action and that he’s excellent in marketing. He admits that he prefers working with Kinetic. Trump asks which team is more talented, and Surya wisely tries to avoid answering. Aaron accuses him of not making decisions. Surya turns that right back to him. Aaron tells Surya that he might not throw out a ton of business jargon, but he will make accurate decisions. Surya says he didn’t delegate to everyone. Aaron counters that Surya threw in the towel. Nicole thinks that there was a lack of planning in the task, which is Aaron’s fault. Surya says that Aimee has seen how well he can sell. Aaron says that Aimee hasn’t seen any of the rest of them do anything, so her opinion isn’t fair in this case.
Aimee asks Aaron if he sold at all. He is a salesperson by profession, so Aimee thinks he should have more actively been selling. Aaron says that as Project Manager, there was a lot more he had to do than just sell. Aaron points out that if Aimee wants to argue that if he is a salesperson by profession and should have been selling, Surya should have been doing some amazing marketing. Good point. Aimee says that Project Manager is a tough job, but that he still should have sold better. Aaron says that they lost by $70.
Trump says that Aaron was weak in sales and in the Boardroom. He was too quiet and didn’t want to “impart his knowledge to me if he had any knowledge.” He didn’t show leadership on this task either. Aaron is fired. Surya says he wants to say something else. “Just go,” barks Trump. Surya presses on, saying he’s going to step up next week. Trump has to say ass again, so he tells Surya “You just made it by the skin of your ass anyway.”
Trump says Aaron was a nice guy, but he didn’t see the spark. Sean thinks he was relying too much on the rest of the team. Surya and Nicole walk back to the tents, and Surya is still fuming. He says that Aaron had put him in charge of marketing, he would have ran it. He says the whole thing was just irritating. Nicole agrees. Surya says Aaron kept lying. She pats his arm reassuringly.
”That’s just absurd,” Surya sighs. He walks off muttering that he wants to break something. Meanwhile, in the limo, Aaron says he isn’t the kind of person who wants to be a jerk to the other team. He doesn’t think it’s in your best interest to criticize them because, next week, he predicts, Aimee be on the other side of the table, and that will hurt her.
Did Trump make the right decision here? It seems to me that Aaron was an effective leader. The team was organized going into the store, they had a set price point with a clever buy two get one free gimmick to increase unit sales. They had appealing sample trays and several outstanding sales people on the team. They also worked well as a unit. Just because he’s not barking orders doesn’t mean he’s not leading. But if Trump wants somebody who does that, and who is more assertive in the Boardroom, then Aaron obviously isn’t the right guy for him.
But what about Surya? Near as I can tell, all he contributed to this task was a lot of jargon. He talked about packaging, but we didn’t see any innovations there. They didn’t have signage outside the store like Kinetic did. Surya’s main point seems to be that Aaron never officially put him in charge of marketing. Maybe Aaron should have been more explicit, but if Surya had something to contribute, he should have just done it. Look at Derek on Kinetic. Aimee never told him to put on his beekeeper suit and walk around the store, but he saw an opportunity and he took it, scoring lots of sales and making an impressive contribution to the win. If Surya had skills that would have helped the team, he should have volunteered them.
And let’s not overlook Tim and Nicole. Near as I can tell, they didn’t make a single outside sale, and their being away took manpower away from the store. Was it a waste of time for them to try to sell the honey that way? Were they bad sellers? Did they make a mistake focusing on gas stations and bakeries? Whose idea was it to target those markets? I’d love to hear answers to all of those questions. But instead, we got to listen to Trump saying “ass” a million times.
Next week, the promos promise us lots of drama and tension. Surya is not meshing well with his team, and Kinetic is not exactly in love with Aimee either. But one place where there will be no tension is in who will win the task. We see a clip of Tim and Nicole making out in the hot tub. That must mean that Arrow wins and winds up in the mansion again. Duh, NBC.
Betsy Wasser is the Associate Editor of Reality News Online. You can email her ass at email@example.com