The Apprentice, Episode 5: Flea Circusby Betsy Wasser -- 02/06/2004
This week’s episode of The Apprentice begins with the two teams milling around, waiting to see who will come home from the boardroom. Omarosa says that some of the other candidates seem to be under the impression that they’re there to have “Kumbaya time,” but that the competition is what matters. When Nick and Kwame arrive, Amy is surprised that Bowie is gone. Nick apparently suspected as much; he remarks, “You guys thought I was gone.” Heidi says that the morale on the men’s team is very low.
Bill and Troy talk on the balcony. Bill says that he doesn’t want to look back on their time in Trump Tower and remember lots of backstabbing and betrayal – he wants the experience to be as positive as possible. Troy agrees, and they hug. The two of them resolve to move on and to take things as they come. It looks like the frustration they had with each other last week over how to play the Trump board game is forgotten.
The next morning, Omarosa answers the Trump Phone. The candidates have one hour to meet in the boardroom, and the project managers should sit directly in front of Trump. As everyone gets ready, I notice a note on a chalkboard in the background that says, “We love u, Bowie!” Aw. Bowie must have been a popular guy. Kristi says that she’s excited to see what will happen next.
In the boardroom, Trump introduces Bernie Diamond, who will be sitting in while George is away on business. Trump says that in the past four weeks, the men’s team has been absolutely decimated. And in business, when things aren’t working out, you reshuffle. It’s time to rearrange the teams. Upon hearing this news, the men look pleased, but the women seem nervous. Kristi and Nick are the project managers, and, for the moment, team captains. Nick will choose a woman first, and then Kristi will choose a man. They’ll pick their teams alternating genders so that the teams will each have two men and four women. Trump is glad to see that Nick took his advice and is serving as project manager.
Nick starts first. He chooses Amy, Bill, Katrina, Ereka, and Tammy. Kristi chooses Troy, Jessie, Kwame, and Heidi. Then, as in every elementary school game of kickball, someone has to be picked last. In this case, it’s Omarosa, who joins Kristi’s team. There’s an awkward moment of silence before Kristi calls Omarosa’s name. At first, I thought that Kristi smirked and looked smug about Omarosa being last picked. But I watched the tape several times, and I’m confident that wasn’t the case. Omarosa was last, and Kristi looked at her, smiled, and nodded, and then called Omarosa’s name. Omarosa smiled back, and both women looked genuine.
Right off the bat, I think Nick’s team (still called Versacorp) looks better. Amy so far seems like the smartest and most capable woman in the running. Plus, she, Ereka, and Katrina have all won tasks as project managers. Bill is bright, resourceful, and likeable, and Tammy must be creative if she came up with the infamous testicle ad. On the other hand, Kristi, leader of the new Protégé team, has Jessie, who has yet do make much of an impression (even as a team leader), Heidi, who has done little other than shake her ass and whine, and two guys who, as much as I like them, have been project managers on losing teams. Plus she’s got Omarosa, who has struggled to get along with her team. It looks like Nick chose more wisely.
Trump explains the task: each team has $1,000 in seed money. They’re to use the money to buy whatever they want, and resell it at a flea market. The team that makes the most profit wins. It’s an interesting challenge, and I immediately start thinking about what I would do. For a thousand dollars, I could buy a lot of flour, sugar, eggs, and the like to bake cookies. Really good cookies could easily sell for a buck each, which would be a huge profit margin. As I’m wondering how long I’d have to bake before the flea market began, Versacorp and Protégé get to work.
Bill says that it’s been really hard losing so many challenges. He’s confident that New Versacorp will be much stronger. Ereka is also happy that there’s less tension and says, “Nick picked a strong team.” In an interview, Amy says that the team will make and sell women’s clothing and jewelry. The team is shopping for t-shirts, tank tops, ribbons, and jewelry. Nick is with two of the women and looks on as they choose ribbon with which to enhance t-shirts. Bill calls him on the cell phone to say that he’s found t-shirts for $14 a dozen. Nick looks to his teammates, and they agree that Bill found a good deal and should buy the shirts.
In an interview, Tammy notes that Nick defers to the women in most decisions, whether it’s choosing what product to sell or what stores to shop in. She says, “It is not smart for Nick to defer so many of the project manager tasks to the women on the team because this is Nick’s moment to shine. I think Nick will be back in the boardroom and I think he will get fired.” I really disagree with Tammy here. In these challenges, it’s important to make a decision fast. In this case, someone suggested buying t-shirts, decorating them with ribbons, and reselling them at a profit. It’s a lot like my cookie plan – you take a couple of inexpensive commodities and turn them into something better. Would Nick have come up with a better plan if he’d hemmed and hawed and questioned their decision? Maybe, but more likely, he’d come up with an idea that was just as good or worse, and would have alienated his teammates by not accepting their good plan. Also, a smart leader takes advantage of the skills of the people working for him, so if Nick doesn’t know much about ribbons, isn’t it better for him to rely on Amy’s expertise? And finally, I doubt Tammy would be saying anything if a female leader, a member of her old team, were leading this way. Tammy is apparently still thinking along the old team lines, or she wouldn’t be so flippant about the idea of Nick losing – because that would mean that Tammy loses, too.
While New Versacorp is busy designing their product, New Protégé can’t decide what to sell. Jessie, Kwame, and Troy sit on a street corner to brainstorm. They reject the idea of buying cheap items at Wal-Mart as impractical, since there aren’t any in Manhattan (as Paris Hilton could tell you). Jessie asks, “Can you buy dirt?” and suggests that they sell dirt in plastic bags along with seeds. “We can make it look really cute,” she explains, so people would pay a premium for it. It’s a decent idea. Troy runs with it, and starts throwing around all kinds of dirt-related product ideas, including a long tangent about putting gold flecks in the dirt and allowing their customers to pan for gold. Jessie says in an interview that it’s frustrating to work with Troy and Kwame. She says, “Behind the madness, there needs to be some kind of organization, and I think that’s ultimately what their team lacked.” Good point.
It’s time for our Trump Lesson of the Week. This one is entitled, “Stand Up For Yourself.” Trump tells us that in business, it’s important to stand up for yourself, because if you don’t, no one else will.
New Protégé still doesn’t have a product. Kristi says that they can’t decide what to sell until they have a look around the flea market where they’ll be setting up. Heidi is utterly disgusted at the surroundings. She says that in a good business, something will catch your eye, like an end-cap display at a grocery store. Nothing there is appealing to her. In an interview, she says, “You have to have solid product to sell, and you have to have good clientele. That wasn’t there, and it was clear it wasn’t there.” Wow, she comes across as incredibly snobby. It sounds to me like Heidi thinks that the kind of people that would shop at a flea market are not going to buy anything, at least not enough for them to win the challenge. They’re not a “good clientele.” But hasn’t the success of eBay proven to us that people will buy just about anything just about anywhere? And if the flea market truly is a losing place to set up shop, won’t the two teams be at an equal disadvantage? Basically, Heidi doesn’t like the task, so she’s handling it by complaining.
Kwame says in an interview that Heidi exuded negativity and really brought the team down. He and Troy agree that they need to decide on a product, and soon. Troy thinks they need to find big ticket items with high profit margins. The team splits up into two groups, both hunting for potential products to sell. Kristi, Troy, and Omarosa head to Chinatown.
If there’s one thing we’ve learned from The Apprentice, it’s that apparently Chinatown is the place to go if you want to buy something cheap in New York City. Whether it’s squid, a leg wax, or some random crap to sell at a flea market, Chinatown is your one-stop shop for inexpensive items.
Back at New Versacorp, Nick and Katrina have decided that they need to find a nice way to display their wares. They go dumpster diving and actually find a garment rack. That was lucky. Nick says in an interview, “It’s called being resourceful, and it’s absolutely brilliant.” He’s a modest one, that Nick. Katrina and Nick agree that Donald Trump would be proud of them as they wheel the rack into Trump Tower. Nick is really excited about the project – it’s simple and inexpensive. He’s confident they will win.
Meanwhile, Kwame, Omarosa, and Kristi try on hats in a shop in Chinatown. The other half of the team calls to say that they couldn’t find a product, so Kristi and company had better come up with something. Kristi tells the person on the phone that she found some parasols for $1.25 each that she thinks would be good. Omarosa is frustrated. In an interview, she says, “Kristi relied on the opinions of the members of the team who were sitting in the suite, not the members of the team who were standing there, looking at the things.” While I see her point, I didn’t see her or Kwame advising Kristi on the viability of the parasols. On the phone, Troy says that it’s supposed to rain the next day and asks Kristi if the parasols would have a practical use. She says that they would cover her head. That’s really pushing it. The parasols look like they’re made of paper. Picture a drink umbrella, only bigger. It really would be no more effective in a rainstorm than holding a newspaper over your head. Kwame is the voice of reason and says that the parasols would not hold up in the rain. In an interview, he calls Kristi’s style, “leadership by consensus.” Kristi finally steps up and says that she thinks they could sell the parasols for five dollars each. Kwame agrees, and they buy the lot .
Kristi says in an interview, “I really wish I could say one thing and have it be the right decision, but I’m getting consensus from everybody. I don’t want to be a dictator. I want to make sure my team’s on board, too.” That’s a great idea, to an extent, but when you reach the point that it’s late at night and your team can’t make a decision about what to sell the very next day, it’s time to take charge.
Kristi, Kwame, and Omarosa buy the umbrellas and head for the subway. Kristi puts some money in her back pocket and asks Omarosa to keep an eye on her butt so she doesn’t drop her money.
The next morning at 6:30, the members of New Protégé go to the flea market to set up their tables. They want to arrive early to secure an indoor booth because it’s supposed to rain all day. Kwame thinks it’s a great location.
Versacorp is outside in the rain. Amy says that at the beginning of the day, she wasn’t confident in their chances at all. Bill says that because of the weather, they might not have much time all day to sell. He suggests that they blow through the merchandise as quickly as possible. Amy agrees, not wanting to be stuck with any inventory when the day is done.
Meanwhile, Heidi is unhappy. She says she’s bored. She thinks that the foot traffic inside is bad, and she’s aggravated because Kristi is a terrible leader. With Omarosa in tow, she takes a break from sulking to see what it’s like outside. They agree that there are a lot more people outside and that they should definitely move. But Heidi adds, “But I am not the project manager to make that final decision.” She then says, “This is unbelievable; why does it take so long to make a (bleeping) decision?”
The mood is much lighter at Versacorp. Sales seem brisk, and Nick suggests that they start selling rings for a few dollars over cost. In an interview, he says that the reason he’s asking the women for feedback is because they have been successful in the last four challenges, and that a good leader draws on his resources. He then jokes that if he’s wrong, “I’ll just be in the boardroom again. I’m used to it.” Katrina says that she loves Nick as a leader. He’s been praising his team all day long, and he’s willing to share both successes and failures with the group.
At Protégé, Heidi is still miserable, so Troy gives her a pep talk. Sadly, he doesn’t give her his cowboy hat and instruct her to “be the hat” as he did with Sam. Bernie comes to see how Protégé is doing. Heidi barks “ten dollars!” at him shrilly in an attempt to sell some merchandise.
Carolyn inspects Versacorp, flipping through the rack of t-shirts. Bill says that they’re selling as much merchandise as possible, since the end of the day is looming. They manage to sell everything, including the tablecloth. At the end of the day, Amy says that they had a great time. Everyone gathers in for a group hug.
Back in the suite, Protégé reviews their receipts. Omarosa says that she is very proud at how well she handles money, accounting for every last penny. She tallies everything and discovers that they are off by almost $200. She suggests that everyone check and double-check their purses, pockets, and side pockets. Kristi is crushed that they can’t find the money. Omarosa mentions the money that Kristi put in her back pocket and suggests that she check there. Kristi says in an interview that she thinks Omarosa is trying to blame her for the lost money. Omarosa says they’ll have to write it up as a loss.
I don’t think for a minute that Omarosa was inappropriate in the way she handled the lost money. She never accused anyone of anything – I don’t think her mentioning the money Kristi put in her pocket came across as accusatory at all. That was a time when the location of the cash was in question, and Omarosa would have been remiss if she didn’t follow up on it. Omarosa was calm, reasonable, and fair the entire time.
The teams head to the boardroom. Carolyn reports that Versacorp sold t-shirts and jewelry. She was concerned because the shirts were in sizes small and medium only, but in the end it must not have mattered, because Versacorp made over $600 in profit. Trump tells Nick, “Not bad. Was it good enough?” Bernie says that Protégé’s strategy was to divide and conquer, but it didn’t work. They had a loss of $75.78. It’s worth noting that even if the team had found the missing money, they still would have lost by hundreds of dollars. Kristi says that she’s not used to losing. Be that as it may, Versacorp wins the reward. They’ll visit Yankee Stadium to meet George Steinbrenner, a man who knows quite a lot about helming a winning team. Protégé must go to the boardroom, where one of them will be fired.
The candidates return to the suite. Nick congratulates his team on a job well done, which I find very classy. Kristi, on the other hand, immediately isolates herself because she’s so upset. She goes out on the balcony to cry. She says, “I take all of the blame.” Kristi explains that in her restaurant, if the money came up short, she’d hold the manager responsible, and now she is in that position herself. She doesn’t think anyone on the team did a bad job – it’s all on her.
The next day, Heidi is all fired up. She says that she’s fully prepared to be a bitch in the boardroom. She didn’t like the product they were selling, she didn’t like the location, and she doesn’t think their failure was her fault. She’s positive that Troy, Kwame, and Jessie are safe. She and Omarosa will have to go to the boardroom. Heidi relays all of this to Omarosa, who asks Heidi if she heard anyone say that they’d be the two to go. Heidi says dismissively, “We live in a (bleeping) bubble. Hello? I’m not an idiot.”
Heidi continues to rant and rave all over the suite. She says that Kristi and Jessie are good friends, so she knows Kristi won’t take Jessie. Heidi says that it should be about business, not friendships. Kristi comes in the room while Heidi is mid-rant and asks if they can talk. Heidi says that she doesn’t want to talk about it. She doesn’t? Because it sure looks like she wants to complain about the injustice of her possibly going to the boardroom to anyone who will listen. Maybe what Heidi really means is that she doesn’t want to talk about it in a productive way.
Heidi goes on to say that Kristi won’t send Troy or Kwame to the boardroom because they’ve been there too many times, and Kristi doesn’t want to put them through that. What? Where did she get that idea? She returns several times to her claim that she knows what’s going on because they live in a bubble. Later, she says that she could tell from Jessie’s face what was going on. So which is it, Heidi? Do you know that you’re going because everyone is talking about it, or because you read it in Jessie’s face? Either way isn’t exactly air-tight evidence. Heidi goes on to say, “I don’t know why I’m nice,” and says that she thinks Kristi stabbed her in the back. How does she figure that? Did Kristi ever promise to never, ever take her to the boardroom? Just because someone does something you don’t like doesn’t mean they stabbed you in the back.
A much calmer Omarosa says that she thinks she’ll be going to the boardroom. Kristi will make her a scapegoat for the lost money, and she is prepared to handle it. Omarosa comments, “Heidi speaks her mind, but what’s on her mind isn’t always appealing.” Meanwhile, Heidi dances around the bathroom singing “Bitch.”
On the ride to Yankee Stadium, the victorious Versacorp team agrees that Protégé’s trip to the boardroom will be nasty, a bloodbath. Ereka says that she tried to calm Heidi down. Nick thinks that Kristi will survive because Trump sees potential in her; after all, he said that he was surprised to see her lose. Ereka agrees with him, and says that she loved Kristi’s remark that she’s not used to losing.
Trump meets the team at the stadium. He says, “Nick, you did it, huh?” Then he remarks that Nick must be glad to have “these girls” with him. You can interpret Trump’s remark one of two ways. One is that Nick should be happy to be working with pretty girls; the other is that Nick couldn’t have won it without them. Neither one is flattering, and shouldn’t Trump refer to females over the age of 21 (with the obvious exceptions of Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie) as women?
Trump and Steinbrenner greet each other with an “I love you.” Steinbrenner immediately remarks on the “pretty girls” that Trump brought. Ick. Steinbrenner then tells the group that to be a winner, you must have desire and passion. Tammy notes that he’s wearing some “serious bling.” He explains that those are his Yankee championship rings. I’d forgotten Tammy’s tendency to stick her foot her mouth, like when she asked Trump’s girlfriend how she kept their apartment so clean. Katrina says that everyone cringed when Tammy made that remark, but that Trump looked amused. Everyone leaves the office to check out the stadium. It’s pretty cool, but it would have been a lot more fun if they got to actually go down on the field. Wouldn’t you want to run around the bases, or throw a pitch? I would. As the team departs, Trump and Steinbrenner tell each other, “You’re a special guy.” Steinbrenner again comments on the pretty girls, and Tammy makes a dopey remark about how he didn’t point at her when he said it. Nick is totally high on the win and looks very happy.
Back at Protégé, the mood is still tense. Omarosa says that she was disappointed in Kristi as a project manager because Kristi is a restaurant manager and should, as a result, have been a good leader. She and Heidi talk about the upcoming boardroom. Omarosa says that Kristi had a defeated posture all day, and that her mood affected the rest of the team. Heidi says she’ll be disgusted if Kristi cries. Heidi is certain that she and Omarosa will be the two sent to the boardroom. Omarosa doesn’t know about Heidi, but she’s positive she’ll be there. Heidi turns nasty again, saying, “(bleep) you when I supported you.” She says they would have been better off if they’d just kept the thousand dollars and stayed in the apartment.
Heidi’s handling of this situation is both immature and short-sighted. She and Kristi are competing against one another for a prize. Kristi believes that Heidi contributed to the team’s failure, and in accordance with the rules of the game, plans to have Trump consider Heidi for termination. Heidi has, for whatever reason, chosen to take this personally, even though there is no evidence that Kristi plans to pick her for any personal reasons. Plus, Heidi doesn’t even know for sure that Kristi intends to take her to the boardroom, since she refuses to discuss it with her. If Heidi was mistaken, and Kristi hadn’t made up her mind yet, I bet Kristi would be more than happy to take Heidi to the boardroom after her outburst. Furthermore, what if Trump fires someone other than Heidi or Kristi; what if he fires, say, Jessie instead? Then Heidi will have to work with Kristi again after she’s so thoroughly burned her bridges with her.
Meanwhile, Kristi and Jessie go for a walk in the park to talk strategy. Jessie advises that Kristi offer up the facts and accept responsibility for the things that were her fault. The others might be confrontational, and if they are, Kristi shouldn’t get into a nasty squabble with them, but rather should just let them talk. Jessie says, “Just shut up and don’t let it get to you. Wait until he addresses you, then say something.” Jessie says that she’s worried that Kristi will break down, because the other women might get very defensive. Kristi talks about how she is learning from Jessie to speak less and listen more. Jessie is only half listening, though, as she points out a pigeon and asks what kind of bird it is (remember, she’s from Wisconsin). Kristi says in an interview that she trusts Jessie. When the competition turns into an individual one, that may change.
It’s time for the boardroom. Kristi tells Trump that she’s not used to defeat. She admits that she handled some decisions badly and that she relied too much on consensus, rather than taking charge. Kristi is following Jessie’s advice, but she seems to be a little meek about it. It’s one thing to be upfront with your shortcomings, but it’s another to be a doormat.
Bernie tells Trump about the missing money. Kwame says that Omarosa was their financial manager, so Trump asks her what happened. Omarosa believes that the money was lost when she gave it to Kristi in Chinatown. Omarosa explains, “She put the money in her pocket and asked me to keep an eye on her bottom.” Hee. Trump summarizes, “The money got lost somewhere between the hand and the ass.” Everyone laughs. Omarosa tells him that she was not assigned the job of financial manager initially, but she saw the need and offered to help. She agrees with Trump that Kristi usually does a fantastic job, but that this time she fell short. Omarosa is certain she would have done better in the leadership position, noting that she used to shop at flea markets all the time as a kid.
Trump asks Jessie what she thinks went wrong. Jessie, the person that Kristi trusted, says simply and clearly, “I think it was management.” He then turns to Heidi, saying she’s been quiet so far. Heidi brashly answers, “You never addressed me, you know? I’m feeling left out, Mr. Trump.” Ugh, Heidi, show some decorum. Heidi blames the loss on a bad product, bad location, and bad planning. Trump asks her who lost the money, and she maintains that she doesn’t know. Even though Trump pressures her to name names, Heidi doesn’t, which is very cool; she honestly doesn’t know, but doesn’t just blame Kristi because she’s mad at her. Troy says that he respects the fact that Kristi was willing to take accountability for their loss.
It’s time for Kristi to make her decision. She says that Omarosa will be joining her, and, “only because I’m forced to make a choice,” Heidi. Heidi is pissed, and says, “I did nothing wrong. The three women wait outside while Trump and his viceroys discuss their fates. Kristi puts her hands on the others’ knees, which is weird and inappropriate, since they’re not exactly friends. Inside, Carolyn speculates that maybe Kristi is a good employee, but a bad manager. Bernie agrees. Trump thinks that Kristi has potential, and notes that Omarosa was in charge of the money. It’s time for the women to face the music.
Trump tells Kristi that she was a star who failed in her leadership position, “but sit.” Heidi is, in his opinion, too aggressive, “but sit.” That leaves Omarosa. Omarosa calmly says that this must mean she’s going, and she thinks she’d be the wrong choice. Trump says that she’s not. Kristi is fired. While Heidi and Omarosa fought for their lives, Kristi just sat there. “You never said anything in your defense,” Trump explains. Kristi asks if she can make a point now, but it’s too late. Trump says she didn’t stand up for herself, and, “She blew it.”
Without a doubt, Trump made the right decision. It’s true that Omarosa was in charge of the money, but she didn’t lose it; she just discovered that it was missing. She worked with the team to try to find it, and when they couldn’t, she properly accounted for it as a loss. As for Heidi, it’s only fair to put aside her meltdown after the project ended; after all, that’s not what they’re being judged on. During the project, she sulked, complained, and whined. I would have hated to have her on my team. But the fact that they lost was not her fault by any means. Instead, the blame rests on Kristi’s shoulders. She was such a weak leader that they weren’t able to come up with a product until late in the day, they didn’t find an effective space, and they sold so little that even if they hadn’t lost any money, they still would have lost. Kristi was without a doubt the person most responsible for the team’s failure.
I was shocked to see that Jessie, who had seemed to be Kristi’s confidant, turned on her in the boardroom, blaming the team’s loss on Kristi. It’s also impossible to ignore the fact that Jessie told Kristi not to argue too much, and that Trump wound up thinking that Kristi didn’t fight for herself. Was Jessie setting Kristi up? Was her advice sabotage?
I don’t think Jessie deliberately gave Kristi bad advice. Kristi is a very emotional person, and if she got into an argument with Omarosa and Heidi in the boardroom, she likely would have come across badly. She either would have cried or she would have seemed immature and defensive. Getting into an argument with one of the other women would not have impressed Trump. But Kristi took Jessie’s advice to the extreme. When she was accused of poor leadership, she sat looking expressionless. When she did have a chance to speak, her voice was flat and uninspired. She didn’t offer any examples of what she did right, nor did she tell Trump what the others did wrong. Jessie told her not to talk too much, but she didn’t tell her to be a mouse.
That said, I don’t think Jessie had the same feelings about Kristi as Kristi did about her. When Kristi tried to open up to Jessie, Jessie was paying attention to the pigeons. Jessie might have liked Kristi as a person, but not enough to sacrifice herself.
Next week, the reviled Omarosa is project manager. The teams must organize a charity auction, starring celebrities ranging from Regis Philbin, to the Queer Eye guys, to Carson Daly, to celebrity chef (and Mark Burnett alum) Rocco DiSpirito. Plus, love is in the air between two of the candidates. Who are the lovebirds? Barring the possibility that it’s Donald Trump and George Steinbrenner, my money’s on Nick and Katrina. They seemed to be having an awfully good time picking through the trash together.
Betsy is the Assistant Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached with any comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Be sure to sign up for our e-mail update so you can stay informed about new articles on the site! And take a look at the rest of the site. You can find all of our recent articles on this show at our The Apprentice page and take a look at our sections on Survivor: All-Stars and Celebrity Mole. You can even buy reality show stuff at our Reality TV Store!
For more news about The Apprentice, be sure to check out SirLinksALot!