The Apprentice: Los Angeles Weekly Performance Review, Episode 12by Brian Towers -- 04/13/2007
This week, the teams were dissolved and new duos created. Although the new pairs were formed with little apparent problem, we all know that issues had to ensue. To see how everyone responded, read on for performance reviews of the remaining players.
And at the end of the article… the results of last week’s opinion survey!
Finally, a venture into the world of real estate! Pop quiz: Which contestants this season have real estate-related backgrounds? Drag your cursor between the square brackets to see the answer. [ Frank, Nicole, Aaron, and Michelle all have real estate backgrounds. Note that all were originally Arrow Corp members. ]
This week’s task had our three newly formed duos creating a presentation to promote new Trump properties in Las Vegas. They were all given access to a digital artist, and apparently, sufficient funds to enlist the aid of a professional cameraperson, a videographer… and more!
I liked it that the judges were Mr. Trump and Don Junior themselves, because they need to be more connected to the tasks. The original plan was to fire both members of the losing team; however, presented with two horrible pitches, The Donald decided to select one each from the two losing units.
Essentially this was not a complex task. The big trick this week was in making the new partner alignments work. The hidden trick was in managing one’s own physical resources (more on that later).
On to the teams, listed in the sequence they presented.
This was a strong performance from the duo that has worked comfortably together over the longest period of time. Instead of wasting energy on drama, they focused on the task at hand and came up with a solid presentation and brochure that guaranteed them a spot in next week’s show. Even opponent Heidi admitted she was “100 percent impressed” by this team’s presentation.
Some highlights were the information-gathering sessions they had with Trump’s business partner and, as shown on Yahoo!, the sales representatives for Tower One. No other duo was shown visiting that latter group.
There was a cute moment on a Yahoo! clip where Stefani finally commented on something we all knew – perhaps more than any other, she REALLY hated living in the tents! Kudos to her for not whining in earlier weeks about something that was out of her control anyway.
Trump often doesn’t see Stefani’s best moments, which include many of her presentations. This time, she was the first person pointedly chosen when the teams needed to become duos. Yet again, she gets recognition of her value from her competitors.
Stefani recognized the need for her team to hire a professional videographer so they could concentrate on their areas of expertise. Very good – that’s why you get a budget. And when meeting with the sales reps in the webisode, she asked, “What is the most common question you get asked?” Good question!
However, the same source showed us that she actually asked too many questions, and she and James missed a preset time for their tour the construction site. As a result, they did not get a tour, introducing the potentially huge problem of not talking to the site foreman.
Does it need to be said again that Stefani made an impressive presentation? At least Trump saw this one. Stefani gets a GOOD rating. Missing that tour cost her the top rating.
It’s partly due to the new rules this year, but Stefani has one glaring shortcoming in the game… her non-record as a PM. All previous winners of The Apprentice have had at least two wins. Should she make it to the finals, it may be a difficult fact to overcome.
James’ first good move came when the former-Arrow team came into the mansion and discussion ensued about how they would partner up. He took control of that situation and secured the efficient and compatible Stefani as his partner before the rest got untracked.
James was very mischievous on the plane. He knew he could get Frank distracted by their surroundings, and that it would annoy Heidi when he did so. The reactions he got probably exceeded even his wildest expectations, as Frank lost focus and Heidi lost patience. In business terms, that’s called influencing others to achieve a desired result.
During the fact-finding task of this project, the Yahoo! clips show us James asked many good questions. For example, he learned that by far the majority of sales were through brokers, and that there was an impending event for potential VIP customers scheduled.
In the presentation, James’ oral skills were evident. Additionally, his chart that tied this project into other Trump operations was a very clever move, and Trump was visibly impressed by it. None of the others addressed this aspect of the project.
James’ rating is therefore VERY GOOD. It would be EXCELLENT, but he also had responsibility to meet the appointed time for the site tour and must take a share of the blame.
James showed me so much this week, he’s my new pick for winner. Yes, I’m aware that’s a curse! There’s more to this lad than just a camping-friendly haircut!
One problem ahead for James is that he was PM and lost a task. No previous winner has ever led a losing effort. He needs to hope that Trump can be convinced that the new rules are responsible for that statistic not holding true this season.
I guess my first thought was that since they didn’t spend money on a professional photographer or videographer, what did they do with their money?
Trump liked their video and brochure (phone number excluded) more than that of Frank and Heidi, so had they presented even half decently and gotten that one significant detail right, they would surely have avoided elimination.
How Nicole survived that debacle, I’m not sure, but a nickname of “Ms. Houdini” is not unwarranted. I’m hard-pressed to identify a single thing she did right!
When forming the teams, Nicole loudly and emotionally ranted against Frank (“What, are you retarded?”). Even with Tim gone, she’s still suffering from showmance-related issues.
I’m not sure why Nicole had no questions for the site foreman. She may know the business in general, but every project of this scale has some unique opportunity they could exploit, and with her expertise she ought to have been the one to uncover it.
Saying she has the entire PowerPoint presentation in her head is one thing, but obviously getting it onto a screen for the Trumps to see is a really basic “Presenter’s 101” issue. Trump took his shots at her, and deservedly so. To make matters worse, her shortcomings as an oral presenter were evident as she stumbled over words, spoke too quickly, and in what I heard as a panicky tone.
In the Boardroom and in later cameos, Nicole was tossing blame around pretty freely. This is amusing considering her contribution was merely a PowerPoint presentation that without James’ aid we’d have never seen. This was not the episode for Nicole to be tossing too many brickbats around and I fear her self-image exceeds reality.
But let’s get to the crux of the matter. Sleeping on the job while a solo teammate soldiers on? It was obvious she was exhausted, but you can’t abandon a mate so completely. Twenty-minute power nap, fine. Then, back at it for a couple of hours. But for that plus a poor presentation and too-frequent bursts of immaturity, Nicole retains her UNACCEPTABLE rating. Shown as an emotional slacker of questionable competence, I fear Nicole has little chance to win.
Kristine got the phone number wrong. Fatal error, no excuses, she’s fired and her rating is UNSATISFACTORY. Why not lower? Because Kristine actually did a few things right this week.
I applaud Kristine’s game-play move to eschew Heidi as a partner and try get out of her shadow. Had they teamed up and won, Kristine is correct that the kudos would have gone to Heidi regardless of the true story, and she would have fallen even further in Trump’s private ranking of the applicants. So when Nicole made it clear that she didn’t want to be the one teamed with a former Arrow, Kristine jumped at the chance to partner up with Nicole instead.
Kristine came up with their theme, “Gold has never been so high.” Excellent. Her questioning of the site foreman that uncovered key facts was also time well spent. She knew Trump believes in asking questions if you want to learn.
But Kristine repeated a fatal sin from a previous week, in that she needed to be far more forceful in dealings with her business partners. A couple of weeks ago she let Muna become an actress when Kristine wanted her behind the scenes. This week, Kristine let Nicole sleep on and, trying to do it all herself, made a huge, glaring, overwhelming, gigantic, critical error. Actually, Trump’s word for it was “insurmountable.”
Kristine’s non-confrontational style was in evidence again when she waited until Nicole was out of the room before telling the Trumps that Nicole slept through a meaningful part of the task.
It’s hard to fault someone who lets her good heart get in the way of her good head. Personally, I say the world needs more Kristines. But Trump doesn’t.
The team-picking that started the show didn’t go well for either of this pair, as for different reasons their previous team members chose to exclude them. What resulted was the worst possible match of personalities. Although different types of people can (and must) work together in the real world, in a two-day project, time and energy wasted on differences in style and personality cannot be recovered.
From Heidi’s aborted presentation through Frank’s unconvincing video to a bosloppyring brochure that missed the mark by miles, and incorporating factual errors from both that were caught by Trump, the resulting presentation was one of the poorest results ever produced on this show. Certainly one reason can be gleaned from the Yahoo! clips – Heidi says she was awake for 50 straight hours! Now, although there may be few among us who have not had to pull an all-nighter at some point, how fuzzy do you have to be to think you can handle 50 hours straight?
I liked it that Frank instructed his videographer to keep his actions secret from James’ team, but what they shot was rather unexciting. Coupled with no voiceover narration on their video, it was obvious Trump was bored by what he was seeing.
Alas, a large piece of the full story is only available to those watching the Yahoo! clips. In a clip called “Frank’s Copter Caper,” we learn Frank hired a helicopter to fly their photographer and videographer around where the top of the tower will be so visual images could be captured showing prospective clients the kind of views they could expect. It was a brilliant idea, but… seemingly missing by a matter of minutes, Frank and Heidi had to catch their return flight to LA before they could get their hands on that critical footage!
When the realization hit that the new images weren’t going to arrive in time, there was a classic clip of Frank, sinking his head into his hands and moaning, “Oh… my… God!” Result: Frank’s primary contribution to the project was a video Trump called “boring.”
As they prepared to begin their presentation, Trump said, “Show me a man from the Bronx can present.” Alas, we saw that on this day, this one couldn’t. It’s true he got caught off-guard by Heidi’s quick handoff, but Frank showed he doesn’t have strong skills in the area of formal oral presentation.
In the Boardroom, another Yahoo! clip showed Frank voluntary adding “written skills” to the list of things he admits he doesn’t excel at. Although virtually every remaining person agreed Frank was “a workhorse,” that’s not the position for which Trump is hiring.
When the Boardroom began and Heidi said negative things about Frank, I liked his restrained, professional response. Even better was the seemingly simple way he got her to contradict herself repeatedly while seeming to be rational himself.
Frank’s episode can be summarized as a bad video, offset by generally good work in the Boardroom and a good “big idea,” even if it didn’t pan out. Frank gets a SATISFACTORY rating this week.
Frank is entertaining and makes for good television. Also, he has the distinction of never having been brought back to a final Boardroom by any of his PMs. However, when Trump seriously questioned Frank’s “sophistication” and “polish,” he all but announced that Frank will not become the L.A. Apprentice.
I guess I cursed Heidi last week when I said, “I think we got all the confirmation we need that Heidi will be the winner.” Apparently I jumped the gun on that one!
Heidi was put in a difficult position when, for different reasons, Nicole and Kristine decided they wanted to partner each other. Her “polar” differences from Frank were indicated as early as the flight to Las Vegas, when she didn’t want to spare him five minutes to look around an aerial Disneyland.
Perhaps Heidi’s biggest sin was in mismanaging her own time. I have little doubt that her failures in writing, speaking, and defending herself were all related to her sleep deprivation. But she’s ultimately responsible for proper utilization of her own resource, and not sleeping for days all but guaranteed a breakdown of some sort.
Even as she was preparing that brochure Heidi said it was far too verbose. And to be without a picture of the complex? That’s actually laughable. One notes that when Frank offered to help her he was quickly and firmly rebuffed. Since she had minimal input into the video, why couldn’t she work independently? That it was tossed together at the eleventh hour indicated poor time management.
Remember, the last Kinetic task was all about a brochure and they won. It’s now apparent Heidi’s role in that win was not as significant as she led some of us to believe.
I was also amused when in the Boardroom Heidi said Frank needed some focusing. Watching her struggle to find facts hiding in her notes, apparently Heidi needed it, too.
Heidi’s oral presentation, which we saw her working on for hours and later practicing in detail, ended so quickly I was stunned. Unfortunately, it left Frank stunned, too. How their theme (which, if you check the tape, changed slightly every time Heidi said it) and 95 percent of the other content never made it past her lips… well, she choked, there’s no other word for it.
Her Boardroom performance was bad. She rarely answered questions as they were posed to her and refused to take responsibility where it was obviously hers. Her distraught tone was a stark contrast to the confident smiles we’ve often seen from Heidi, and that variance from the norm undermined the credibility of her arguments as well.
Heidi had been a “golden child,” favored by Trump beyond factual reason. Even this week, in a Yahoo! deleted scene, he asked Nicole, “You chose Kristine over my superstar Heidi?” But as much as it hurt Trump to do it, he had to fire Heidi. Not for a terrible presentation, not for a lousy brochure… but for repeatedly lying in the Boardroom, being caught, and then doing it again.
She did a good job of avoiding responsibility all season long, but tonight, there was no place to hide. Heidi’s rating is the lowest, UNACCEPTABLE.
Did Trump make the right decision? Well, he couldn’t really fire all four, so taking one from each team seemed reasonable. Almost asking to be fired in the Boardroom, Heidi earned her trip home. So did Nicole, but Kristine made an elephant-in-the-room type of error that simply could not be ignored.
Trump was disrespectful in the way he shouted Kristine out, though. I find a stark contrast between this and the way they tried to give his fair-haired darling Angela a last chance to save herself when the writing was already on the wall.
Next week, we’ve been led to believe there will be interviews with other executives to produce a final two for the finale. I think Frank and Nicole have a daunting task ahead of them. Then… one final task, something appropriate for their locale!Survey Results:
First off, thanks to the hundreds of you who responded to my survey. The first question asked, “Whose firing was the biggest surprise to you?” The overwhelming response was Derek, at 53%. The next most common answers were “no one,” 20.4%, and then Muna at 7%. No one else received significant response.
Question two was about the show in general. Here’s the responses:
I was mildly surprised by how much dislike there was of the two twists. This was made even more obvious by comments added at the end, many of which claim they ruined the show by making such material alterations. It was also interesting that there seems to be a love-hate relationship with the show, as the last two responses, which are almost extreme opposites, total over 70%.
An option I intended to add and forgot was, “Too many important task details are not shown,” but several of you commented to that effect. It seems you feel “use and amount of the seed money” and “exactly who put forth winning/losing ideas” are two popular concepts we saw too little of this season.
One reader compared this show’s quality to The Swan. Ha! I used to recap that one while it was alive. Thanks for the eerie memory!
The third question came out rather inconclusively. It was, “Has Ivanka been a good replacement for Carolyn?” 38.2% agreed, 32.7% disagreed, and 29.4% felt they were about the same. For those who are not aware, Carolyn is no longer with the Trump Organization, so her return to the show will not occur. My favorite comment in this area was, “She mimics her father’s pathetic opinions, albeit using a better vocabulary.” Her absence from too many episodes and the infrequent appearance of any of the viceroys at several tasks was also bemoaned.
For the fourth question, we turn our attentions to Mr. Trump.
Again, comments were even more extreme than the percentages. Many feel The Donald has changed, and not for the better. Some phrases are “once entertaining (now) over-bearing,” “potty mouth,” and… well, this is a family website.
The option I forgot to add here was, “He shows favoritism,” but you readers commented about it without my prompting. One reader pointed out that he seems to have lost the distinction between “forwarding a bad idea while brainstorming” and “championing a bad idea.”
The final question sought your opinion of the winner. Response was pretty one-sided.
I guess I gave Nicole’s mom too much credit in last week’s article, purporting her to be the bastion of modern-day common sense – she’s clearly not reading my articles! Maybe I’ll have to retroactively downgrade her to GOOD? At any rate, with Angela, Heidi, and the rest of Kinetic now gone, it looks like a near-level playing field for the first time all season.
Finally, one person disliked my rating of Heidi last week and said I overrated their brochure. I read an interview with the Dial executive (sorry, the link is lost to me now) where they extolled it even more and added that the Arrow item contained information that would not get past the legal department. Sorry, that one was a clear win for Kinetic!
Thanks to those who left comments (though if you’d emailed me instead I’d have responded personally). If I could summarize them in one rating for this season, it would have to be “FRUSTRATED”! It’s apparent people truly like the show for what it was and what it could be, but don’t like where it’s been going of late.
Once again, thanks to those who participated!
This week’s big question for readers is, which of the fired contestants do you think will be called back to assist on the final task? 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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