The Apprentice, Episode 4: The Bar is Loweredby Betsy Wasser -- 01/30/2004
Last week, on The Apprentice, Protégé and Versacorp faced off in a battle of negotiating skills. Versacorp continued their losing streak, and Project Manager Sam got sent home, but not before he sent an evil fire and death glare Trump’s way. By the way, if you haven’t read my interview with Sam, check it out here.
This week, all of the contestants are gathered in the suite waiting to see who will be sent home. Amy says that she’ll be shocked if anyone other than Sam gets the boot. When Bowie and Kwame walk in the door, everyone rushes to them and cheers. That’s got to be hard on Sam watching this from home. It’s bad enough that everyone jumped up and down and whooped with joy that he got fired, but something else happened that’s got to hurt even more.
Bowie and Kwame were greeted at the door.
The mood in the suite is jubilant. Bowie thinks that the women wanted Sam gone just as much as the men did. But one person is not celebrating – Nick. In an interview, Nick says, “Ding, dong, the witch is dead? I don’t think so. There are worse players on this team, and I’m pissed.” Bowie is still celebrating and says that he would have been embarrassed if he got sent home before Sam did. Nick continues to glare and says, “He’ll get his vengeance through me.” What? Since when is Nick Sam’s best buddy? Sure, he didn’t totally trash him in the boardroom, but he when the other guys showed their annoyance with Sam, Nick sure seemed to be right there with them.
The Trump Phone rings. The two teams are to meet in Times Square the next morning at 8:00. That’s all the instruction they get, so all of the candidates kind of mill around on the street until Trump pulls up in his limo. Trump joins them and announces the next task. Each team will manage Planet Hollywood for one night. The women will be that night, and the men will have the next. Whichever team gets the biggest increase in sales over last year wins. The reward is a day at what Trump calls “one of the best golf courses in New York state,” the Trump National Golf Club.
In an interview, Katrina says that she thinks the men are “a lethal weapon” now that Sam is gone. That’s kind of ridiculous, isn’t it? It’s not like Sam is the only reason they’ve been losing. Still, the lethal weapons meet to choose a Project Manager. Nick immediately suggests Kwame, and the men agree. Kwame thinks that Nick didn’t want the position of authority for himself because he is afraid to lead. Nick says in an interview that he wants to get rid of Kwame and thinks this is the best way to do it. Wait, so Nick hates Kwame and wants to get rid of him? We never had any indication of that at all. I guess that while Sam was acting crazy and Ereka and Omarosa were fighting for the past three episodes, the other people continued to coexist. Who knew?
The first order of business of Protégé Corporation is to discuss what to wear. One of them decrees that they should all look “sassy and cute.” Considering that their wardrobes seem to consist mainly of tube tops, off the shoulder shirts, and short skirts, I don’t think that will be hard to pull off. In an interview, Kristi tells us that she owns and runs a restaurant, but that Katrina will be the Project Manager. Kristi will help Katrina make decisions. Wow, I really wish we had been shown how that happened, because Kristi is a natural choice to be in charge. She has the most experience and the most specialized knowledge. Is she afraid to lead because she’s afraid to fail?
Meanwhile, Omarosa is being much more pleasant to the other women. She says in an interview that she is making an effort to engage them and finds that she likes and respects everyone more than she initially did. Her nemesis Ereka is still suspicious. Ereka thinks that Omarosa is only acting nice out of strategy. That seems really unfair to me. Didn’t Ereka want Omarosa to stop being so nasty and make an effort to get along with everyone? Hasn’t everyone been saying that would be best for the team? Maybe Omarosa finally decided to listen and to be part of the group instead of trying to be in charge. Maybe she realized that she was bringing everyone down. Or maybe it is all a big act. Even if it is, at least everyone is getting along and is functioning as a team. Isn’t that what Ereka wants? Or does Ereka really just want to win this little battle?
The women arrive at Planet Hollywood and get a tour from the general manager. Kristi quickly learns that only 25% of Planet Hollywood’s sales come from alcohol. She thinks that’s a big opportunity because booze has a 300% profit margin. Again, it makes me wonder why she isn’t in charge.
The women come up with their plan of action. Some of them will stay in the restaurant to work the room and to sell drinks and merchandise. The others will focus on bringing people in from the street. Katrina says that they will be the “Planet Hollywood Shooter Girls,” and will wear skimpy t-shirts and sell shooters. Heidi selects a t-shirt and giggles that it is size extra small.
I wish I were making this up. But it gets worse.
In an interview, Katrina, the member of this group of supposedly smart and successful women who has been put in charge, gleefully says, “We modeled our Planet Hollywood Shooters Girls after the Hooters girls. Hooters is so successful because of the women. Sex does sell.”
I am officially embarrassed by these women. Thousands of women were interviewed, and the eight that were chosen to go on this show are supposed to be some of the best and brightest business women in the country. But the only strategy these supposedly successful women seem to know is “sex sells.” I have never, ever seen a woman in a professional environment behave the way these women do. I am utterly disgusted that their Wiggle Your Ass School of Business knowledge is being shown as an example to girls and women everywhere.
It’s time for our Trump Segment of the Week. The title is “A Deal’s A Deal.” Trump says that if you make a deal, you should try to keep it. If you shake on a deal, you should plan to follow through on it. These are pearls of wisdom, people.
At Planet Hollywood, the girls follow their usual strategy of wearing tight tops, shaking their butts, and giggling. George asks Katrina what their plan is, and she coos, “We’re passionate!” Tammy says in an interview that Katrina didn’t have an answer for George because she had no real plan.
Apparently just showing off their cleavage is not working for Protégé Corporation; the sales figures so far are unimpressive. Ereka suggests that some of them go out and pass out coupons to tourists picking up theater tickets. Jessie isn’t sure if it will work, since coupons given away on the streets are rarely redeemed that night. Still, the girls and their tiny shirts hit the streets in an attempt to drum up business. They flirt and promise “a huge party” at Planet Hollywood, but it doesn’t seem to be working. Amy notes that the crowd seems to be used to coupons, so they’re not offering anything special. One potential customer says that he might go to Planet Hollywood the next night. The girls lie and say that the restaurant is closed that night. How ethical! As the women head back to Planet Hollywood, one of them says, “I feel like I’m pimping it out!” That’s funny, because I thought they were whoring it up.
Back at the suite, the men engage in some team bonding. They run on treadmills, play basketball, and then the real action comes when they bust out the Donald Trump board game. It’s also worth noting that there are bottles of Trump water on the table as well. Mmm, refreshing and Trump-licious! Troy says that Bill started criticizing his moves and attempted deals in the game, so Troy decides to do the same thing to Bill. The two guys pick apart each other’s strategies, and the attitude is semi-friendly, but it’s clear that both of them are getting annoyed. Finally, they agree to a truce – they’ll each stop criticizing the way the other plays the game – and they shake on it. But a few seconds later, Bill is right back at it again. In an interview, Troy says, “Bill broke the handshake deal. Bill is a snake.” I like Troy, but I think that’s taking things a little far. Bill wasn’t being a snake; Bill was being a bit of a blow-hard who got over excited at the game. Does that make him obnoxious? Absolutely, but it doesn’t make him a snake.
Back at Planet Hollywood, Jessie has decided to try something different. She brings a few tables downstairs and offers them to customers for fast service for drinks and appetizers. In an interview, Jessie says that Katrina seems mad because she moved the tables without talking to her first. Katrina tells Jessie that the tables downstairs aren’t working, so she should bring them back upstairs. Katrina thinks that Jessie is offended that she told her to move the tables, and Jessie says that she thinks Katrina is offended that she moved them without asking first. As the two of them argue about which one of them is upset, I can’t help but wonder if Katrina would have been okay with the idea if Jessie were offering lap dances instead of fast service.
It’s time to check the numbers again, and things still don’t look good. The women decide to take things up a notch by pushing shots. Heidi says that it might take twenty minutes to sell someone a $20 t-shirt, but she can see $20 worth of shots in three minutes. Kristi agrees that Heidi is fantastic at selling shots. Heidi’s technique, in case you’re curious, seems to be basically going from table to table badgering people until they agree to buy shots. If someone did that to me at a restaurant, I’d leave.
Ereka tells us in an interview that a group of men bought shots for all of the Protégé women. The women down the shots, much to the distress of the Planet Hollywood managers. One of the managers tells Kristi that employees absolutely do not drink on the job. Furthermore, the restaurant is liable if anything happens to a customer after being served too much alcohol.
The bartender announces last call. Amy is worried. She says that they did well with the shots, but those only made up 10% of their revenue.
The men get ready for their night at Planet Hollywood. Nick says in an interview that he is waiting and watching the other men to see how they work. He’s confident that in the end, he’ll come out on top. “These people will eliminate themselves, one by one.” That very same strategy worked for Sandra on Survivor: Pearl Islands, so maybe it will work for Nick, too. As the guys head out, Heidi says, “Break a leg. And I mean that literally.” Shut up, Heidi. Nick says that he’s not concerned with whether or not they win because he doesn’t think he’ll be sent home regardless. Kwame, on the other hand, is determined to finally secure a victory.
The guys arrive at the restaurant, and Kwame announces the plan. Most of the guys will focus on bringing people in. Bowie will work the front door and the merchandise. Bill will handle the restaurant itself, including an incentive program for the wait staff. Bill tells the staff that whoever has the most sales each hour will get a $100 bonus. The staff looks excited at the idea, and George and Carolyn seem impressed.
Troy turns on his charm, flirting with a couple of tourists outside the restaurant as they are waiting in line somehwere. One of them says she’d be happy to have a drink with him right there, so he calls Bowie to try to order some. Bowie reminds him that they can’t take drinks out of the restaurant. Next, Troy and Kwame board a tour bus to pass out coupons and to sell t-shirts. Bowie is at the front door, trying to get people to come in, but the dining room is practically empty. Inside, Bill is very worried. He notes that merchandise sales are down 50% to the previous year, which is a bad sign.
Bill and Nick agree that they need some kind of magic to bring in more foot traffic. Troy puts it more colorfully, saying, “We need to be hoppin’ like a frog on a hot plate.” They need to create a buzz… but how?
Back at the suite, the women have decided to reward themselves for their hard work at the restaurant with dinner out. Over a huge platter of sushi, they make fun of the men and what they might be doing at the restaurant. Omarosa imitates Kwame talking about business school models, and everyone laughs. Has Omarosa learned her lesson?
Troy has come up with a plan to create more buzz. He announces to one and all that Kwame Jackson is at Planet Hollywood signing autographs. If anyone asks who Kwame is, Troy tells them the truth: Kwame is a New Yorker who works on Wall Street. People actually come in to get Kwame’s autograph, and several people buy basketballs for Kwame to sign. Nick and Bill are disgusted with this plan and don’t want to be a part of it. Nick shows his disdain by going out on the street and muttering really lethargic sounding pitches for Planet Hollywood. Kwame notices that Nick is not putting in much of an effort.
Ethical or not, Bill notices that sales are improving. Time is running out, so the men work the tables, trying to sell merchandise and drinks. Bowie says in an interview that Bill seemed more like the project manager than Kwame did.
I wasn’t very impressed with this challenge. The two teams really didn’t have to focus that much on the real trials of running a restaurant. They didn’t have to worry about food quality, service, or staffing (and if you’re in the mood to learn more about that sort of thing, might I recommendmy recaps of Mark Burnett’s other show, The Restaurant). Really, it was just another sales challenge like the lemonade task we saw in the first episode. It wasn’t boring to watch the two teams trying again to sell, but I wish we had seen a different skill set tested.
It’s the next day, and everyone gathers in the boardroom. Trump is ready to hear the numbers. The men had an increase of 6.8% over last year. The women, however, had an increase of 31.3%. They win again. Carolyn says that the women focused on the bar and on merchandise sales, which accounts for their superior performance. The women will enjoy a golf outing, but the men must return to the boardroom.
Back at the suite, the men are somber as usual. Kwame says that he has no speeches for them. Bowie says everyone is shocked and, “I feel like a pet was just killed.”
The women are at the golf club enjoying their reward. Tammy says that lots of business people socialize over golf, and that these relationships can strengthen business connections. Heidi says that she hates golf, and I can see why, since she cannot hit the ball to save her life.
Trump and Carolyn arrive, and Trump asks the women to meet him in Carolyn’s office. There, Trump tells them, “You are smart, dynamic, and attractive women. You beat the guys fair and square. But you’re coming a little close to crossing the line relying on your sexuality to win. Well, it’s unnecessary.” Carolyn agrees, and says that the point of the competition is to find someone to run one of Trump’s companies. She tells them simply, “Things like that aren’t going to get you a job here.” Carolyn is officially my hero.
Back at the suite, the women tell the men about the lecture they got. Kristi says it was embarrassing to be told they had crossed the line. Amy tries to lighten the mood, saying, “If being attractive is wrong, then we did something wrong.”
Speaking of doing something wrong, Bill and Troy debate the ethics of the Kwame Jackson autograph plan. Bill and Nick think that it was wrong for Kwame to misrepresent himself as someone famous, especially to kids. Kwame shrugs it off, saying, “I didn’t sell the kid crack.” Nick walks away in a huff, and Kwame compares his grandstanding and storming off to the dearly departed Sam. Nick is pretty sure Kwame will choose him to face Trump and has a defense prepared.
Here’s my take on the Kwame scandal. Technically, they did not lie to anyone. If anyone asked who Kwame was, the guys told them the truth. If people just assumed that Kwame Jackson was somebody famous, well, then caveat emptor, I guess. It’s a decent argument, but I don’t agree with it. Planet Hollywood is known for being a restaurant owned by celebrities. Sometimes the celebrity owners come to the restaurant for events, so if you saw someone there signing autographs, you would not be dumb to think he was someone famous. Misleading people to get their business is just wrong. What’s more, the men’s dishonest technique didn’t even work. They didn’t generate enough foot traffic to significantly increase sales, and they didn’t even sell much merchandise. It was a bad plan all around.
The men worry about who will go next. Bowie says, “Nick was not motivated.” Bill says that Bowie didn’t do a good enough job on the merchandise. Bowie blames Kwame for their failure, saying that someone should have been in charge of the bar.
It’s time to face Trump. Kwame says that he won’t offer any excuses or explanations, though of course he does just that. He says that because the men’s team is smaller, they didn’t have enough resources to go around and thus weren’t able to devote someone to working the bar. He says that their strategy was executed well, but that it wasn’t good enough. George says that being short-staffed should have just made them work harder; Nick, for example, didn’t work hard at all in the end.
Nick defends himself, saying that he worked very hard passing out coupons. Carolyn says that not many coupons were redeemed, so coupons were not effective. She says that they should have used their seed money to hire someone else to promote the restaurant, maybe with a sandwich board, rather than having management handle it.
Trump asks Bill who did the worst job. Bill says that because he was alone in the restaurant most of the night, he can’t really judge. Nick fingers Kwame, citing in particular his unethical behavior. Troy blames Nick because he had no smile or enthusiasm. Bowie agrees that Nick was not motivated or positive. Nick says that because of Kwame’s shenanigans, he was deflated. Kwame says that what he did was no different from the women using sex to sell. I guess I can agree with that, since both practices are embarrassing and repugnant.
It’s time for Kwame to choose the other two members of his team responsible for their failure. He picks Nick for checking out, and then Bowie, saying that even though he did “A” work, he still underperformed compared to the other two, who were “A+.”
Trump, Carolyn, and George deliberate. Nick mentally checked out of the game, but Kwame was a bad captain. On the other hand, Bowie failed at selling the merchandise. It’s a tough decision. They send in the three men. Trump gives each of them a chance to explain why they should stay. Kwame says that he did better than Nick. Nick thinks that the other guys are deliberately trying to get rid of him because he is the strongest. Bowie says that he was on the fence about the autograph thing.
Trump says that he thinks Kwame has real potential, that Bowie failed miserably at selling the merchandise, and that Nick just gave up. He says that he’d like to see Nick lead next week to see what he can do. Bowie is fired. Nick looks a tad smug. Trump says that he liked Bowie, but that he didn’t present himself well.
I was surprised at this outcome. Kwame was in charge, and he failed to make effective use of his team. Plus, he behaved unethically by implying he was someone famous. I thought he might be the one to go. But Nick gave up on the task, and I’m sure Trump does not appreciate quitters. I was sure one of them would go – I never thought it would be Bowie. A cynical side of me also notes that Kwame and Nick apparently hate each other, which makes for good television, but no one hates Bowie. But I think that the biggest reason Bowie went home is that one of the biggest lost opportunities for the men was in merchandise sales. Bowie was in charge of that, and the men didn’t do well. He seemed like a good guy, and I’m sure the other guys will miss him.
Next week: Because the men’s team is down to just four guys, it’s time for some “corporate reshuffling.” Two mixed gender teams will compete in the next task, someone will betray someone else, and the announcer promises that we will be shocked when we find out who is going home next. I guess that means Omarosa will stay for another week, because if she leaves it would shock no one.
Betsy is the Assistant Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached with any comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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