The Apprentice: Los Angeles Weekly Performance Review, Episode 9by Brian Towers -- 03/21/2007
There are so many odd tasks this season, I’m beginning to get nervous about what job awaits the winner of the series.
There’s actually not much else I wish to comment about Frank either way this week, so although the supporting actor Emmy in 2007 may well be headed in another direction, Frank gets a SATISFACTORY rating this week.
James stepped up to be PM, primarily because after getting savaged in the last Boardroom, he had no option not to. I think he did a pretty fair job.
Probably his best move was to recognize that this week, the rest of the team had more to offer in the area of creativity. Unlike his predecessor, he knew it was best to step back and get out of the way. Note, he did not abdicate his responsibilities, but he let the creative people run with what was clearly a solid idea, while maintaining a watchful eye on the proceedings.
It’s unusual for a PM not to be the one to make a presentation to product execs. I mean, we’re talking three or four sentences; it’s not rocket science. As he was not in the video, James missed an opportunity to enhance his visibility.
In the Kinetic Boardroom, James was pretty quiet. He asked one question that we saw, but as he did not incur Aaron-scaled wrath from The Donald, I must assume he made other contributions.
James’s rating is therefore GOOD. He just might have escaped from Trump’s doghouse!
Nicole’s voice is not very microphone-friendly and in some of the early takes, was almost as inaudible as Muna’s. However, by the time the final take was laid down, she delivered her lines in a controlled tone that was easily understandable. For making that adjustment, well done.
This was Nicole’s best work in a while, and her rating is also GOOD.
The one contribution we saw from Stefani was that she made the short presentation to the Dial execs, which she handled easily. Her rating is SATISFACTORY.
Tim was clearly not at ease acting his role, including the “showmance” parallels, but he got the job done. His rating this week is GOOD.
The team began the task with an effective brainstorming session, and the Yahoo webisode showed all but Muna contributing creative ideas toward the final plot.
Let’s take a closer look at the last three seconds of their video, the much-lauded cliffhanger. What message are we left with? What I took away from it was: the product’s instructions are hard to read, the purpose of the product is not clear, and it doesn’t work as fast as some would like it to!
Trump opened the Boardroom meeting by saying, “I think you’re all really outstanding.” For the surviving members, it’s good to know that Trump is supportive of their team.
However, Arrow’s performance in the Boardroom was horrible, one of the worst ever. First off, many questions were asked that never got answered. If this was the editing, then fine, the blame goes there. But, that didn’t seem possible in the case of Ivanka’s first two questions. This means that information that may have changed the result never saw the light of day.
The kicker was when Trump asked them all who should be fired. Is this a new question for this show? Neither Angela nor Heidi had prepared a response, nor could they deliver an opinion on the spur of the moment. As it was, together it took them three-and-a-half minutes to come up with a name – and then, the topic was revisited!
If Trump asks if they’d rather have Mays or Mantle on their baseball team, to him, not having an answer even after being pressed for a response, that’s the worst scenario. He wants people with opinions, not wafflers. What we saw exhibited poor pre-meeting preparation and ineffective decision-making. I think both Angela and Heidi damaged themselves in Trump’s eyes by handling this foreseeable predictable moment so badly.
Angela was active in the initial brainstorming session, and was the one who voiced the idea that the “timings” task was good for Muna. She also made helpful editing suggestions when they were trying to salvage something useful from the filming.
Angela needed to step forward if she wants this job, because based on the résumé’s of the others and what we’ve seen to date from her, she’s not going to win. This week, we got an indication that she can in fact make contributions. I’m going to give Angela a SATISFACTORY rating.
And can someone please tell Trump that the Russians are not a force in International Women’s Hockey? It’s a two-team sport, Canada and the U.S., with the next best teams not even on the radar at this point. In fact, only once in the history of the sport has another team (Sweden, not Russia) finished better than third in any major event (hence, Angela’s bronze medal)! Phew, rant over!
This week, Trump referred to Heidi as, “My former superstar. Former.” She’s quietly been taking those shots with a smile and a laugh. Does she have a rebuttal she’s saving for a time when it matters more, or is she defenseless to the charge? She needs to rid herself of the label of “former star” soon, because it’s a negative image that is sticking in Trump’s mind.
As far as her performance in their webisode, the camera loved Heidi and she said her lines well. I’m not sure this is a skill Trump is seeking, but of them all, Heidi was the best actor.
In the Yahoo webisode Heidi told us she tried to get Muna to slow down her delivery. Good for her for trying to take corrective action, that hasn’t happened on this team much of late.
Pre-boardroom, Heidi told us, “I’m going in there to be honest and fair, and keep my mouth shut as much as I can.” That didn’t work out so well, with Heidi scrambling even less successfully than Angela. The important question of what Heidi may or may not have told Muna about keeping her in the game never got resolved, as even Heidi’s responses seemed conflicting. What is clear is that Heidi let that question handcuff her, though.
As Muna left the show, Heidi said, “Wow, a lot of pressure on Heidi. That was like the hardest thing I had to do in my life.” If that’s true, I would like to trades lives with Heidi.
Considering the positives of her task work and offsetting for her iffy work in the Boardroom, I’ll assign Heidi a solid SATISFACTORY rating.
Kristine was faced with a difficult decision this week. Muna was reluctant to take the role she was assigned, and in the name of team harmony, Kristine took what she called “the path of least resistance” and made the decision to put her in front of camera instead. Trump wants to see backbone, not knuckling under to try and make everyone happy.
Trump himself said, “This was either very good leadership, or very bad.” Understanding both sides of the decision had pitfalls, I tend to lean to the latter. Muna might have been moody, but she’d have performed the tasks she was given without sabotage.
Although requests can always be considered, the PM makes the task assignments. Working for a living often means you have to do things you don’t like, and this was only for a day. When Muna gave her a half-hearted way out, Kristine should have jumped on it and put Muna behind the scenes.
Whatever possessed Kristine to leave the video shoot to go shopping was inexplicable, as Angela certainly could have purchased those paper towels and lipstick unescorted. Although it was apparently only for two scenes, this absence corresponded with when the Dial execs came by. This almost got Kristine fired, as the Dial execs named her as the one responsible for the loss. Yes, it isn’t fair but timing and perception can be everything.
When Kristine returned and took on the director role, she made several good suggestions. One was about making sure the product label was always visible, and another was making sure the shot was framed properly. However, this merely underscores the enormity of her bad decision to go shopping and have the early scenes filmed unsupervised.
It’s one thing to notice on a daily basis that Muna has a strong accent, but what got recorded accentuated Muna’s verbal nuances and left Kinetic with a near-useless audio track. Was it foreseeable that there would be recording problems? Probably not. Although in the Boardroom Kristine implied to James that she checked the tapes on her return, I don’t think she did. The whole team seemed equally surprised when they reviewed the video with their engineer.
Changing topics, it’s apparent Kristine has an image recognition problem with Trump. Again this week, Trump stumbled identifying her as the PM. I don’t really know why that is. In the early days of this series, Trump used to visit the tasks himself. Maybe that’s a factor?
Knowing how religious Muna is, Kristine was somewhere past bad taste making her religion jokes. I will say that I thought her decision to review Trump’s book before the Boardroom was a smart move, though. One of the Yahoo clips calls this scene “Good Books: The Deity vs. The Donald.”
In the Boardroom, Kristine got, eventually, support from Angela and Heidi, and that’s what saved her. Considering the poor job she did, I’m rather amazed that so little Boardroom was directed at Kristine.
Last week I wrote that I was afraid Kristine wouldn’t be a strong leader, and this episode bore me out. Her rating is UNSATISFACTORY, because with only three teammates, proper resource allocation is a big factor.
Muna’s lack of enthusiasm for a behind-the-scenes role is clarified somewhat in the Yahoo webisode when she explains that she didn’t want to be known as a one-dimensional details person. She may have given the final choice to Kristine, but it was apparent she clearly wanted to be on camera. Perhaps Muna’s biggest sin was putting Kristine in the no-win position that resulted when she unenthusiastically said she’d take either role.
Enough has already been said about Muna’s poor audio results, but she made it worse by speaking too quickly and enunciating poorly.
In the Boardroom, Muna called herself “a lamb” and Trump jumped on it. In actual fact, Muna was so busy fending off that aside that she never finished making her original point about comparing herself to a lamb.
In a moment that I think expressed the confusion of this Boardroom so well, even as she was being fired for taking a risk, Muna was unsuccessfully trying to explain that she doesn’t take risks.
In large part, Muna was fired because she couldn’t act on film. But it was the role she dogmatically fought for, so she has to take much of the blame when it didn’t work out. Her rating is NEEDS IMPROVEMENT.
But the last two weeks, Muna showed us she is not easy to work with. Firing both would have made perfect sense this week.
That’s all for this week, so please feel free to let me know what your thoughts are at the eAddress below.
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!
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