The Apprentice: Weekly Performance Review – Initial Evaluationby Mike DeGeorge -- 01/13/2004
When I first heard about The Apprentice, I absolutely loved the concept, but I had no faith that they could pull an interesting show from it. How could they translate the world of business in a way that would entertain the reality-show crowd?
They found a way, that’s for sure. You see, I consider Last Comic Standing to be the perfect reality show for me. And it still is. The Apprentice is the perfect show for my “business” side. And unlike LCS (and Survivor, and Big Brother, and The Mole, and…), it’s a show I could actually see myself trying out for and competing in.
So I decided to write this weekly column, called The Apprentice: Weekly Performance Review. Obviously modeled after those “special slice of hell” regular performance reviews that everyone dreads, I will be breaking down each applicant, addressing each person’s strengths and weaknesses, and trying to determine their best course of action in order for them to get the job.
Now you’re probably thinking, “Who the heck is this guy to presume to judge these people?” I don’t pretend to be a business genius, and am certainly no Donald Trump. However, I feel that I do have the experience and background to get by.
I graduated from Christian Brothers University in Memphis, TN, with a Bachelor of Science degree (yes, I have a degree in BS – couldn’t you tell?) in Business Management. I have almost ten years of Management and Supervisory experience in the “real world,” so I do feel that I possess a slight advantage over the contestants in that I have considerable experience in both aspects of business. In the interest of full disclosure, I should mention that I quit my last management job because it was causing too much stress, and instead ventured into the more low-key (but still stressful, no doubt) accounting profession, which I enjoy much more.
Now that we’ve covered me, let’s get on to the applicants! Each week, I will talk about each person, grouped into teams, winning team first, fired contestant last.
First I want to comment on the name: Unlike Betsy (in her recap), I like the name. They truly ARE Trump’s protégés. Or at least they want to be. What’s more important, is that with this name they are telling Trump that they want to be just like him. It’s a suck-up name – even more so than (ugh) Donald’s Darlings was. Judging by The Donald’s reaction at the NYSE, it worked.
Ereka: You were the first project manager of Protégé Corporation, and quite frankly, you did a pretty bad job. Your team was disorganized and poorly motivated. Many team members felt they weren’t getting much of a say, and others were giving orders when they should have been taking them. You lucked out in that the sex (and sex appeal) of your team played a large part in your victory. However, you probably still would not have been fired this week had your team gone to the board room. In addition, your failures weren’t fatal, as I mentioned, much lessened by the fact that you won the challenge. Your fortunes can be reversed and your initial slipups even forgotten by a little hard work, something which I am guessing is well within your power.
Omarosa: On the other hand, we have Omarosa. You seemed to be everywhere, giving advice to those who didn’t ask for it and giving orders when you were supposed to be taking them. You seemed more interested in setting your ideas in motion than you were in helping your team. You may have thought that implementing all your ideas would help the team, but that’s not necessarily the case. Knowing the difference is the sign of a true leader, and this is the key to your success. You need to know when to back off and when to lead by example.
Amy: For a good example, see Amy. When she couldn’t find the rest of her team, she and Kristi decided to sell the merchandise they had instead of standing around helplessly. Now, that’s about the best thing I have to say about you today, Amy. You’ve got a lot of catching up to do to impress me, after your opening speech about being worth millions in stock options before the dotcom bust. This may sound impressive at first, but in reality, all it means is that you jumped on the hot property of the moment – dotcom stocks – and hoarded them at their overinflated prices until their true value was revealed. It’s kind of like saying “I won a million dollars in the lottery until I found out I had the wrong numbers.” To illustrate my point, look at Mark Cuban. He built a dotcom company, Broadcast.com, developed it, and sold it to Yahoo while the stock was at its highest. You probably wanted to impress us with your background, but I tend to doubt that Mr. Trump will be. The big question is, will you learn from your past failure?
Kristi: You did nothing BUT impress this episode, Kristi. From your background, you’re obviously a hard worker. You worked to put yourself through college and held down two challenging jobs. You and Amy made a decision that helped your team when they really needed it, and I wonder if your team would have gotten going as well as they did without the two of you. You also seemed to be behind the idea to use your sex appeal to sell the lemonade. Without this decision, you definitely would not have won. Plus, you’ve appeared naked on Red Shoe Diaries. How can we not get along?
Jessie: I honestly can’t remember one thing about you. This is both good, since you didn’t get off on the wrong foot, and bad, since no one wants a President who fades into the background. Your best bet would be to work harder on making an impact.
Katrina: My first impression of you was “arrogant.” Some people say that about me, and my response is usually, “I have a right to be.” Can you back it up? Like Jessie, I didn’t see much of your abilities in the first episode. I doubt you were one of the top 3% real estate agents nationwide by standing around.
Heidi: You irritated me, and I have no idea why. Some people just do that. I’ll take an immediate dislike to them for no good reason. Of course, this happened with a co-worker once before and she ended up becoming one of my closest friends, and still is to this day. In any case, back to you, Heidi. You’re going to have to prove to me that you’re more than a short skirt.
Tammy: Oh, Tammy, Tammy, Tammy. You acted like a snobby bitch, whined a lot, seemed to worry more about your makeup than your job, and stopped to take a break without telling anyone. Then, during the tour of Trump’s apartment, you subtly insulted his girlfriend and acted like a total rube. If the women had lost, you would have been fired without a doubt. Lucky for you, you have a chance to redeem yourself. I have a feeling, though, that you’re our designated “villain” for this show, and will probably be sticking around for a while.
VersaCorp is one of those nonsense names that remind me of those drug commercials on TV. What do you do? Why should we care? It sounds slick for the sake of being slick. Why didn’t anyone go for something like “The Legion of Doom”?
Bill: I’ll start with you, since you were almost invisible this week. Make an impact, guys!
Jason: That is, unless your impact is negative, like being rude to Donald Trump. Seriously, how much intelligence does it take to know that you shouldn’t interrupt and be short with the man who will decide your future? You’ve dug yourself a nice hole.
Nick: Speaking of negative impact, we come to Nick. Our first real introduction was seeing you bitch about the VersaCorp name, but you really didn’t come up with anything better, did you? Then you bitched about the location of the lemonade stand. But did you make your complaint known? I understand the editing might have cut these out, but you’re coming off as a whiner. Stop whining and DO something.
Bowie: You were my favorite from the very beginning, and so far you’ve done nothing to change that. You seem to be the guy who loves life and loves getting his hands dirty, figuratively speaking. However, you didn’t do a whole lot of value this week, and again, I suggest you change that for next week.
Kwame: You were responsible for choosing the bad location, which made you a possible scapegoat. You were also responsible for getting a lot of supplies from the nearby restaurant, which was an absolute stroke of genius on your part, which, had you won, would have made you the most valuable player on your team right off the bat. Personally, I don’t think the guys could have beaten the women no matter WHAT location you chose, so I don’t hold it against you. In addition, you were willing to admit that the location was bad, even if you didn’t understand why. Keep up what you’re doing: a bad decision made honestly, in my mind, is better than no decision at all.
Speaking of location, I have to wonder: why did no one go to Times Square or the Bus Station? Throngs of people pass through there every minute. Set up outside a Broadway play. Hang out outside Toys R Us, where kids will demand lemonade from their parents! Was it too far away? I didn’t think it was too far to go, considering.
Troy: Was I the only one who wanted Troy to bust out with, “Hi, I’m Troy McClain! You may remember me from reality shows like…” OK, enough of that. You made a fine leader, especially since you had the guts to step up to the plate and be first. I don’t agree that you were “inconsistent,” just because you took Kwame’s advice and not Sam’s. A leader shouldn’t take everyone’s advice, he should take everyone’s advice into consideration, which I think you did. And most importantly: you picked yourself up and vowed to do better next time.
Sam: Oh, where do I start? You seem to be all about the flash and not about the substance. But what to expect when you list your professional idols as Donald Trump, Ben Franklin, Studs Terkel, and… Howard Stern? Good grief, man. Some say that your name-dropping of Trump’s parents was creepy; I found it pathetic and condescending. You’re very lucky that George liked “the cut of your gibberish,” since I think if he hadn’t stuck up for you, you’d have been the one fired. Trump isn’t sure if you’re a genius or just insane, and the rest of us will sit back and wait for the next (and hopefully last) meltdown. You won’t get a third chance, I think.
David: You got something of a raw deal, but you have no one else to blame but yourself. You admitted that you were not a strong seller or a good leader, and this is not someone that Trump wants running their corporation. Managers want someone who aren’t afraid to try. People who say, “I don’t think I’m a very strong leader, but I’ll do my best.” THAT is precisely why you were fired instead of Sam – although he was a disaster most of the time, he gave every effort and never gave up.
As a final note, I’d like to pose a question: how sad is it that you could name more people on Protégé that should have been fired than on VersaCorp? Let me know what you thought of The Apprentice, what you think of my column, and who you think is next to go.
Email me at email@example.com.
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