The Apprentice, Episode 2: Steak vs. Sizzleby Betsy Wasser -- 01/16/2004
This week’s episode of The Apprentice opens with those people lucky enough to avoid the final boardroom after the lemonade debacle. The women and the men who weren’t sent to face Trump wonder who will be sent home. Their questions are answered when Troy and Sam return without David. Sam rather smugly tells everyone that David got fired. Kristi says that at that moment, it became real to her that after every task, someone will get sent home, and that it could happen to any one of them. The men are just glad it’s over.
In an interview, Sam says, “If the men don’t win the next task, we’re all as good as dead, because Mr. Trump does not give second chances.” First of all, that’s a little bit of hyperbole. If the men lose the next task, it’s not like Trump’s going to sit them all down and say, “You know what? Screw this only sending one person a week home. You’re all fired.” However, if what Sam means is that if the men don’t win the next task, he is as good as dead, then I could not agree more.
Meanwhile, the women are focused on the next task. Omarosa says that they need to plan how to select their next Project Manager. She pulls out a bowl and suggests that they pick a name at random. Ereka disagrees, saying that they all know each other’s strengths and weaknesses and thinks they should vote instead. The two of them immediately clash – Omarosa thinks that Ereka doesn’t respect her ideas. Ereka thinks that Omarosa isn’t interested in hearing anyone else’s opinion. The women quickly agree, over Omarosa’s protests, not to pick a name at random, and instead almost immediately select Amy as their next Project Manager. In an interview, Omarosa says that the other women are willing to discuss ideas as long as they aren’t hers.
Amy tries to make peace and says that she will accept the position of Project Manager only if Omarosa and Ereka stop bickering and agree to work together as a team. They respond by squabbling even more. Omarosa says, “It’s always personal with you.” Ereka rolls her eyes to heaven and says, “Darling. Sweetie pie. You have said so many things to me, you have no idea.” Hey, I recognize what Ereka’s doing! That’s sarcasm! I can’t think of a nicer and more productive way to air your grievances!
Crap. Now I’m doing it too.
The women agree, reluctantly, to a cease-fire. Kristi says in an interview that if Omarosa and Ereka can’t get along, it will hurt the team.
Trump’s secretary calls to announce the next task. Both teams are to meet at the Deutsch advertising agency the next morning. Sam is geared up, saying, “This is round two in a thirteen round fight.” The men meet to select their Project Manager. Jason says that he used to work for an advertising agency, so he thinks he should be the leader. The men agree that makes sense. Doesn’t it seem much smarter to choose a Project Manager when you actually know what the project is going to be, like the men did?
The next morning, the aspirants arrive at the Deutsch Agency. There, they meet Donald Trump, along with Donny Deutsch, the chairman and CEO of the agency. He’s wearing jeans and a t-shirt and laws, that man must do some serious exercise, because he is ripped. This would be as good a place as any for me to comment on what the candidates are wearing. They’re dressed in business casual clothing, and I think that none of them quite knows how to interpret that. The guys are pretty much in dress pants and dress shirts with no ties. It’s safe, but really dull. The women look wildly inappropriate, in very short skirts, sleeveless tops, and, in Amy’s case, a chiffon, off the shoulder blouse. Perhaps the worst fashion offender is Ereka, who has a bright patterned scarf tied around her head and big hoop earrings like she’s playing gypsy. Donny leads them all through the offices and points out that it’s a very free, open space. A guy on a scooter zips past him. It’s a cool office – I work in advertising, too, and my office is similarly funky. Every once in a while, someone will come in off the streets and ask if they can look around.
Trump tells the candidates that advertising can be a powerful lesson. Last week they were selling lemonade, but this week they’ll be selling corporate jets. Their assignment is to develop a campaign for the Marquis Jet Card. The winning team will fly on one of the jets to Boston for dinner. The losers will face Trump in the boardroom, and one will be fired.
Donny leads the aspirants to a conference room and tells them a little bit about the product. The Marquis Jet Card allows customers to buy a private jet by the hour. The candidates must design a 30-second TV ad, a magazine ad, and recommend an overall marketing plan. They can use any resources from the agency. He says that he’s looking for big ideas, for something fresh. His final words of advice are, “Swing for the fences. Failure is not an option.”
A title card advises us, “Don’t deal with underlings.” Apparently, each week we’re going to be treated to a business lesson from Donald Trump (last week’s was his talk about the importance of location). Trump advises us not to work with subordinates, but rather to talk to the boss whenever possible. Everybody got it? Okay, let’s move on.
Amy’s first task as Project Manager is to call Marquis to set up a meeting. She wants to talk to the president of the company to find out what sort of message they want to send, what kind of image they’re looking for. She scores an appointment at 12:30 that day and decides that only two or three people will go so that the rest of them can stay and brainstorm. Omarosa says that she wants to go, but Amy says no. She wants to take Ereka with her because Ereka is a native New Yorker, and because she thinks it would be wise to keep Ereka and Omarosa separate for the time being. Amy and Ereka take off for their meeting. In an interview, Omarosa says that she thinks Amy made a terrible decision. She left her team without a timeline or plan of action.
I have several thoughts on this subject. One, it’s interesting to know that Ereka is a native New Yorker, since she’s the one that got them lost in the city last week. Two, I think Amy did give the others direction: come up with ideas. Omarosa is just mad because Amy didn’t ask her to come along. And finally, Amy is being a strong and decisive leader. She is willing to step up and make decisions, the very thing Omarosa criticized Ereka for not doing last week. In short, Amy is doing a great job so far, and Omarosa seems to have sour grapes.
The women decide that while Amy and Ereka meet with the client, they’ll take the film crew to the airport to get started. Looks like they weren’t stuck twiddling their thumbs after all.
The men are hard at work as well. Jason asks Nick and Bill to handle the creative aspect of their plan. Troy suggests that they talk to the client. Kwame agrees, saying that you should always find out what your customer wants. Jason disagrees. He thinks talking to the client would be a waste of time. He doesn’t think the client will tell them anything that they don’t already know. Jason is so wildly wrong that it boggles the mind. He and the others on the team think they know what kind of image Marquis Jet wants to portray, but they could be wrong. Maybe they want to move away from their luxury image to position themselves as a surprisingly affordable nicety. Maybe they already have plenty of male customers and want to attract more women. Maybe they want to reposition themselves to compete with Hooters Air. It’s not likely, but you just don’t know until you talk to the client.
The team stands by Jason’s decision, since he’s the leader. Jason sends Nick, Bowie, Bill, and Kwame to do a photo shoot. The rest will stay at the agency and will work there.
Meanwhile, Amy and Ereka race to their meeting at Marquis Jet. The men they talk to tell them that they want to be wowed, and that nothing is off limits. The women are very happy with how their meeting went. Amy calls Tammy to fill her in on what they discussed.
Tammy has a plan that she’s very excited about. She says, “My idea is very risky. It [the jet] is a phallic symbol. And if you get the card… you’re gonna go way up.” Yes, that’s risky all right! She supervises a photo shoot featuring one of the women in a very short skirt sitting on the wing of a plane. Omarosa hates the concept. She thinks it’s tacky and does not convey luxury. She thinks they need to be more serious. Tammy says that she wants to mix a serious message with a funky one. She thinks it’s worth the risk.
Sam and Nick call Bill at the hangar to give him some direction. Sam starts out on a long-winded speech about Warren Buffet, the owner of the company, how he’s the second richest man in America, how he lives in… I’m sorry, I drifted off. Bill sighs impatiently and says, “Sam, I know this.” Nick shoos him away from the phone so he can talk to Bill. Sam is immediately upset, saying, “Everybody’s got a different style.” Nick just wants Sam to stay on task. The two of them argue while Bill, on the other end, holds up his phone incredulously and listens to the quarrelling. Sam is hopping mad, and in an interview says that Jason is a terrible motivator. He has the chance to be a cheerleader for them, but he just brings them all down. Meanwhile, Bill observes, “You ask Sam what time it is, he tells you how to build a clock.” Well said, Bill!
At the hangar, the men get to work. Kwame says that their campaign shows that Marquis Jet is safe, convenient, luxurious, and classy. The men are very pleased with their campaign.
Back at the agency, Omarosa is not so sure about her team’s strategy. She says, “Tammy’s testicle ad may compromise our ability to win this task.” That is fabulous – “Tammy’s testicle ad” is officially the funniest line in this episode. The photograph shows a plane shot from below and it does indeed have a very suggestive shape to it. Amy says that she thinks it’s sexy, and she loves it. She says their imagery will be consistent throughout the campaign.
Things are rougher in Versacorp land. Jason has found Sam to be his biggest problem employee, so he has assigned him only small tasks. The tasks may be small, but Sam looks stressed out and miserable. He goes across the room and curls up into a little ball. Nick notices and nudges Bowie – Sam is asleep on the floor. Jason says that if he were Sam’s boss in real life, he’d fire him for sleeping on the job. As fellow RNO writer Jason Borelli said, Sam should consider himself lucky that Jason didn’t stick his hand into a bowl of warm water.
The next morning, it’s time for the presentations. The women dress up like flight attendants, saying that they’re not just selling the campaign, they’re also selling themselves, so they want to present a complete package. Their outfits are a little cheesy, but it’s a good idea, and very eye-catching. At the agency, Donny introduces them to Linda and Peter, who will be helping him make his decision.
Omarosa begins the presentation. Their campaign will include the TV spot, magazine ads, newspaper, and direct mail. Donny immediately questions the use of direct mail, saying that people tend to throw it away. Omarosa says they won’t throw this away, because it is truly eye-catching. Donny says it better be. Omarosa looks him in the eye and says, “It’s damn good.” Donny loves her confidence. Omarosa continues with her presentation and Donny immediately recognizes the innuendo in the ads. With taglines like “Do You Measure Up?” it’s hard to miss. I was impressed with Omarosa in this segment. She gave a strong and confident presentation, and you never would have guessed that she didn’t agree with the strategy. She really came across as a team player. She turns the presentation over to Heidi.
Heidi leans against the table, showing off her cleavage, which Donny points out. She says that their campaign has both sex appeal and shock value, and will be a bold direction for the client. Donny laughs, but says, “You set the women’s movement back!”
The men are much less unified over in Versacorp land. They bicker over how to set up the presentation, but finally come to a decision. Nick gives Kwame a crash course in public speaking.
The men’s campaign is much more traditional. The TV spot features a town car driving up to the plane, with a voiceover from a woman saying how when her husband travels for business, she prefers that he fly with his Marquis Jet Card. The tagline for the campaign is “Redefining First Class.” The presentation is strong and even includes projected media costs of the campaign, a great detail. In the end, the men pass out luxury cigars (no doubt courtesy of cigar maven Bill) as an example of the kind of service one can expect from Marquis Jet.
Donny, Linda, and Peter compare notes. Linda thinks the women’s presentation was much sharper – the men were generic by comparison. Peter disagrees. He thinks the women had the sizzle, but the men had the steak. Donny says he’s torn, but has made his decision.
The candidates gather into the room and Donny gets Trump on the phone. He says that both presentations were good, but that the men lacked a big idea. He suggests that if they had talked to the client, they might have known that they could be bolder than they were. When you hire an ad agency, you hire the people, and in his case, the women were the better choice. They win. Trump tells the women that they’ll be flying to Boston for dinner. As for the men, “There won’t be any dinner. There won’t be a private jet. One of you is going to get fired.”
The women are thrilled. They climb into a stretch Hummer and toast their win. Amy says that they triumphed over distress and disorganization. Kristi toasts the fact that the men tried hard and still lost.
The mood is very different back at the penthouse. Sam asks Jason who Jason thinks “Mr. Trump” will fire. Nick says, “Sam, can you just shut up a minute?” Nick tells him in no uncertain terms that he does not intend to tell anyone who he thinks is going home or which two men he plans to choose to face Trump with him. I don’t blame him; Nick does not owe him an explanation.
The women head for the restaurant and Kristi says that she intends to embrace the good life so she’ll continue to aspire to it. As the women have a wonderful gourmet meal, the men cook dinner at home, dumping a bag of salad into a bowl and burning hamburgers. Bowie jokes that they’ll burn down the house while the women are away.
After dinner, the women head back home. Omarosa says that she hasn’t gotten much sleep and has a splitting headache. She begs everyone to please be quiet. They ignore her, and I can understand why. They’re all having a great time, and now they’re supposed to stop because one person has had enough? Sorry, Omarosa – suck it up.
Omarosa falls asleep in the limo. The women get out of the car, and Ereka notices that Omarosa is still sleeping. She says that she tapped Omarosa on the shoulder to wake her up, and Omarosa completely flipped out. She tells Ereka not to ever, ever get in her face again. Ereka says that all she was trying to do was wake her up, and that she is done trying to get along with her. Ereka yells, “Being a bitch is going to be your problem, and you’re going to have to live with it for the rest of your life.”
The fight continues on the plane ride home. Omarosa tells Ereka that she’s being a baby. Ereka scoffs, “That is like the pot calling the kettle black.” Omarosa spits back, “There you go, with your racist terms!” Ereka is shocked that Omarosa thinks that remark was racist, and I was too. As I’ve been writing this recap, intrepid editor David Bloomberg did some research on the phrase and confirmed in three places, one of which was the Merriam-Webster website, that it has no racist origins. Omarosa goes on to accuse Ereka – and the rest of the group – of being intimidated by strong African-American women. In an interview, Ereka says that the group would be much stronger without Omarosa.
Meanwhile, Sam is still fishing for information from Jason. He begs, “Give me something I can really use.” Jason refuses. Sam says that he’s afraid that Trump will fire him on a whim. I can assure you, when (not if) Trump gives Sam the boot, it will not be on a whim. Troy says that Sam is so geared up he’s liable to have a heart attack.
Sam collapses dramatically on his bed. Troy comes to his rescue and tries to calm him down. He has Sam sit on the bed and take a deep breath. Troy commands Sam to leave the city behind and imagine himself in the country, relaxing, fishing, and kicking back. Troy puts a cowboy hat on Sam’s head and says, “Relax. Be the country kid. Be the hat.” This is the second time Troy has tried to help out Sam – Troy must be the nicest guy on the planet. As Sam continues to sit with his eyes closed and hat on, Jason says that he is just fine with the idea of Sam getting fired. Troy walks by and sees Sam still “in the country.” As the guys head off to face their fate, they talk about how they really regret not calling the client.
The men line up in the board room in front of Trump, George, and Carolyn. Trump asks Jason what went wrong. Jason says that they came up with a great package, but it wasn’t what the client wanted. Troy and Nick tell Trump that Jason did an excellent job as their Project Manager. Trump asks Nick if he’s being so loyal to Jason so that Jason won’t pick him for potential elimination, and Nick says no.
Trump asks Sam if he thought Jason was a good leader or a terrible one. Sam says he was neither. Trump says that with a response like that, Sam might be one of the ones Jason chooses. Sam says, “I am confident that he will choose me.”
Kwame mentions Jason’s decision not to meet with the client as a mistake. Troy agrees that they should have done so, but that Jason made the final decision not to. Trump says, “I think it was a terrible decision.” He says that if they had bothered to meet with the client, they would have known that they were looking for a flashier presentation.
Trump asks Jason which two other men were most responsible for their failure. He picks Sam, mentioning that he fell asleep on the job. He has trouble picking a second man, saying, “Sam was the easy one, guys.” Finally, he selects Nick. He says it was a tough decision. Trump asks Nick if he’s sorry he was so loyal to Jason. Nick says he’s not, that he stands by what he said. Trump sends the other men back to the penthouse and directs Jason, Sam, and Nick to wait outside for the decision.
No sooner does the door close than George says that he cannot imagine Sam was president of one of Trump’s companies. Trump says the same thing he said about Sam last week – he’d either be a disaster, or he’d be great. Trump says that he’s made his decision, and sends the men back into the room. Happily, Sam does not opt to crawl into the room this time.
Nick walks into the room looking angry. He asks Trump if he can have a moment to defend himself. He says that he has no idea why he was chosen. He points out that just before the presentation, he gave Kwame some tips on public speaking. If he were so inept, why would Jason have given him such an important task? All Jason can say is a meek, “It had to be someone.” Trump tells Jason that he has been disloyal to Nick, who defended him. He tells Nick to relax; he is not going home.
Trump now focuses on the other two. Sam pipes up with, “Jason is showing a high capacity for making mistakes.” Trump snorts, “Didn’t you sleep through most of it?” Jason tells Trump that Sam actually curled up in a fetal position on the floor and went to sleep. Sam denies it, and we see Nick trying desperately not to laugh. Sam gets serious and says, “I don’t think I’m fighting for my life, Mr. Trump.” Carolyn and Trump disagree. Sam was given one job, and he fell asleep. He tells Sam that he’s “sort of a disaster.” Trump tells Sam that everybody hates him and that he gets no respect from the rest of the team. Nevertheless, Trump says that Jason made a colossal mistake by not calling the client. He is fired.
The three men leave the room, and Sam, little toady that he is, says, “Have a good evening, all three of you.” Shut up, Sam. As Jason gets in his cab home, Trump says simply, “Jason was fired for not dealing with the boss.”
There has been a great deal of discussion among RNO writers on this outcome. Jason made one (admittedly big) mistake. Donny still thought they came up with a good product, so it wasn’t a complete disaster. Sam, on the other hand, actually fell asleep on the job, grounds for dismissal at just about any place a person could work. So why did Jason get fired instead of Sam? Well, you can be cynical and say that Trump was advised to keep Sam on for a while longer, since he makes for such entertaining TV. That may be a factor. But more importantly, Jason was fired because he chose Nick to face Trump with him and couldn’t offer a reason why. Either Jason was ready to dispose of a good and loyal partner, or he so desperately wanted to get rid of Sam that he had to pick someone else that Trump couldn’t possibly dismiss. Neither reason makes Jason look like a direct, forthright manager.
Next week, The Apprentice moves to its regular night and time: Wednesday at 8:00 Eastern. We think NBC really means it this time. Omarosa and Ereka fight again! The guys pick Sam as their Project Manager. Did they do it to sabotage him? Will it work?
Betsy can be reached with any comments at email@example.com.
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