The Apprentice: A Look at the Final Fourby Betsy Wasser -- 04/07/04
Donald Trump started his quest for a new Apprentice with 16 extremely smart, ambitious, and accomplished people. That field has now narrowed to four. In two episodes, just one will win. The Apprentice is different from, say, Survivor – candidates can’t get rid of the person they consider the biggest threat and the best player. Instead, the decision lies solely in the hands of Donald Trump. As a result, our final four candidates – Amy, Bill, Kwame, and Nick – are without a doubt a strong, solid group of contenders. Along the way, they’ve all made some extremely smart decisions… and some that were not so smart. As we head down the home stretch, let’s take a look at our final four to see who has done the best, and who has a shot at winning it all.
Hometown: Austin, Texas
Last job: Worked in the tech sector
Project Manager: Twice (Madison Avenue Pitch, Casino Promo)
Trips to the Boardroom: 1 (Casino)
Amy has, by far, the best record of any of the remaining candidates, with just one loss. She also has the respect of her peers – when the teams underwent the first corporate shuffle, Amy was the first person chosen for the new Versacorp. Then, when the teams needed to choose another player to even out the sides, Amy was chosen again twice. Donald Trump has noticed that, and appears to be impressed.
Amy is also a skilled negotiator. In the Negotiation 101 challenge, she secured an extremely good price on the golf club, faring far better than her competitors did. She also negotiated some very good celebrity donations for the Donation Auction challenge (despite having the bumbling Tammy with her), and was able to move past Katrina’s flirting to secure the donation of a car for use in the Casino Promo challenge. She has a pleasant, friendly demeanor, but never loses sight of the practical aspects of a negotiation.
Amy has worked well with some very difficult team members. When she was project manager in the advertising challenge, her first order of business was to demand a cease fire in the conflict between Ereka and Omarosa. She kept the peace throughout the challenge, even if it meant keeping the two women as far away from each other as possible. In the celebrity auction challenge, she was teamed with Tammy, who did a terrible job and tended to make the celebrities uncomfortable. Not once did she lose her cool with Tammy, nor did she allow any signs of upset to show in front of the celebrities. She was also one of the few players who was, for the most part, able to get along with Omarosa.
Amy also had a very strong, grand-slam idea. In the Taking Over rickshaw challenge, she came up with the plan to sell advertising on the rickshaws. She was also able to use the strong relationships she had formed with Marquis Jet and other past clients to make that plan come to fruition. Without a doubt, Amy’s idea to sell advertising firmly cemented Versacorp’s win in that challenge.
Amy has done extremely well, but some of the other candidates – such as Katrina – believe that Amy is not all she’s cracked up to be. Indeed, Amy has had a few missteps along the way. She was a part of the all female Protégé’s consistent strategy of using sex to sell. In the negotiation challenge, for example, she prompted Kristi to show off her abs to a fishmonger in an attempt to get a good price on squid. After the women’s team followed this strategy for several challenges, Donald Trump and Carolyn told them to knock it off. Especially notable was Carolyn’s reaction, as Carolyn has the job that these candidates aspire to – a young woman in her thirties, Carolyn is president of one of Donald Trump’s companies. Carolyn told the women under no uncertain terms that trading on their sex appeal will not land you a job working for Donald Trump. Amy’s reaction showed that she missed the point. Back in the suite, she said, “If being attractive is wrong, then we did something wrong.”
Amy’s relationship with Nick has attracted a great deal of attention. Amy certainly won’t be fired for flirting with another candidate, but if she lets her relationship with Nick influence her decisions, Trump will not be impressed. Ereka, for example, was fired largely because she spared her friend Katrina from the boardroom. Amy will have to take care to separate her personal life from her professional life.
Amy has served as project manager twice, winning the advertising challenge and losing the casino challenge. It can be argued that the win in the advertising challenge wasn’t a direct result of Amy’s leadership. The winning concept of using sexy images of planes was Tammy’s idea. The men’s team lost mainly because Jason made the choice to not meet with Marquis Jet first. Amy did meet with the client, but the absence of doing something incredibly stupid doesn’t exactly make her smart. In the casino challenge, Amy lost big. Trump blamed her team’s loss on the lame car rental giveaway and demanded to know whose bad idea it was. It was Amy’s bad idea, but in the boardroom, she claimed to not remember who came up with it. So not only did she make a bad choice, but she didn’t own up to it. During that challenge, she tried repeatedly to poach the other team’s ideas – but without success. She sent one of their models to take VIPs away from Bill, but discovered that Bill had negotiated exclusive access to the high rollers. Then, when she saw Troy’s success using a microphone to draw customers, she tried to do the same thing – but in so doing, actually lured players away from the gaming area.
Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Last job: Cigar entrepreneur
Project Manager: Twice (Donation Auction, rickshaw Take Over)
Trips to the Boardroom: 2 (Apartment Renovation, Trump Ice)
Bill might not be as showy about it as Nick and Troy are, but he has proven himself to be an excellent salesperson. In the Flea Market challenge, it was his suggestion to sell the merchandise as quickly as possible, to avoid being stuck with inventory at the end of the day. In the Trump Ice challenge, he had a wealth of ideas. When Ereka was focusing on the quality of the bottled water, he rightly suggested that they focus their sales pitch on price. Then, when the two of them were meeting with potential customers, while Ereka blathered about “creating a buzz,” he cut to the chase and offered a good price, which netted the team some sales. Then again, in that challenge, when Nick was getting nowhere telling a nightclub owner about the quality of the water, Bill offered him a good price and made the sale. In the Art Gallery challenge, Bill offered excellent personal attention and service to gallery patrons, telling them that not only would they get the paintings at good prices, but also that the artist would hang and light the paintings for them. He sells well by understanding his customers and by being friendly without being high-pressure or sleazy.
Bill’s great salesmanship and friendliness were especially evident in the casino challenge. His strategy of targeting the high rollers was, without a doubt, the reason Protégé won the challenge. Even though they had fewer registered players than Versacorp, Protégé’s players spent, on average, more than twice as much money. It was a smart idea, and Bill executed it well.
Bill also works very well with the other candidates and seems to have earned their respect. In the Planet Hollywood challenge, Bill was in charge of managing the restaurant itself, and one of the players commented that Bill seemed more like the man in charge than project manager Kwame. Troy and Kwame selected Bill to join their team before the Atlantic City challenge. And Amy, the candidate with the best record, named Bill as her chief competitor. Bill even handled his more difficult coworkers effectively. It was his idea to make Sam project manager of the negotiation challenge, to see if Sam was as smart as he claimed to be. Bill also had a sympathetic ear to Omarosa after she was hit in the head with the plaster. Sure, he might not have believed the extent of her injuries, but he was polite and respectful to her about it. At the same time, he was not a pushover. He felt that he was unfairly sent to the boardroom by both Katrina and Ereka and did an adept job at standing up for himself.
Bill has made a few mistakes in his time on the show. In the apartment renovation challenge, he was in charge of negotiating the rental price of the property, and many believed that he settled for too low of a price. It is worth noting, though, that Bill did rent the apartment for the price his team was aiming for, but nevertheless his performance in that challenge remains a black mark on his record. In the rickshaw challenge, his team won the task, but Bill made some moves that might be counted against him. He had the idea of having Katrina and Amy pull the rickshaws, figuring that an attractive female driver would be a draw. It wasn’t. And when Nick wanted to give an advertiser a full refund for a damaged sign, Bill wanted him to give just a partial refund, which could have been construed as less ethical.
Perhaps the biggest challenge Bill faces is his tendency to be too diplomatic. When Trump or one of his advisors asks Bill who did the worst, he typically hesitates and avoids giving the tough answer. He could be perceived as afraid to make crucial decisions. In fact, George once told him, “You’re an executive. You’re going to have to make some decisions which are very painful.” If Bill can’t make himself do that, then he might not be given the chance to make any decisions at all.
Hometown: New York, New York
Last job: Investment manager
Project Manager: Three times (Planet Hollywood, Art Gallery, and Casino Promo)
Trips to the Boardroom: 4 (Negotiation 101, Planet Hollywood, Art Gallery, Penthouse Brokers)
Kwame has a different approach to management than many of his counterparts. He thinks that he is most effective when he has good people on his team, gives them direction, and stands back to let them do what they’re good at. Kwame used this style to great effect in the Casino Promotion challenge. Kwame didn’t interfere or micromanage; he just let Troy work the room and Bill court the VIPs. If you’re a smart person who works well independently, then Kwame is a great boss for you.
Kwame is also very direct and honest. When his team lost the Art Gallery challenge due to their choice of Meghan as the artist, Kwame looked Trump in the eye and told him that his team made a risky decision, and that the risk did not pay off. He didn’t make excuses or spend too much time explaining why the team made the choice they did. Similarly, Sam took Kwame into the boardroom after the negotiation challenge because he said that Kwame didn’t respect him. Kwame said that if Trump wanted to fire candidates for not respecting Sam, then he might as well head home now. It takes a lot of confidence to be that direct, and Trump has surely noticed that Kwame has that confidence.
Kwame has also served as project manager more times than any other candidate in the final four. That shows that he is willing to be a leader and to risk failure. Trump doesn’t like tentativeness, so he’s bound to admire Kwame for being willing to take the reins. On a similar note, Kwame has been to the boardroom more times than any other candidate. Trump has had four chances to fire Kwame and hasn’t done it yet.
Kwame was also able to get along with Omarosa. When Amy declared that she could no longer work with Omarosa in the Trump Ice challenge, Kwame stepped in without complaint. And when Omarosa needed a shoulder to cry on after Trump criticized her in the boardroom, Kwame was willing to help. As I mentioned before, a good manager is able to work not just with great employees, but also difficult ones. Kwame certainly has that ability.
Kwame has, unfortunately, made some pretty damaging mistakes. He chose the location for the lemonade challenge… near a smelly fish market. In the Planet Hollywood task, Kwame stood on some shaky ethics when he started signing autographs. Bill and Nick both thought that by signing autographs, Kwame led people to believe he was famous, which is certainly on the sleazy side. And in the rickshaw challenge, Kwame wasn’t able to secure a single customer.
Perhaps the most common criticism of Kwame is that he has more education than he does experience. Kwame has an MBA from Harvard, so he is clearly book-smart, but it’s been said that he relies too much on idealized business models and not enough on reality. Omarosa called him an MBA robot. He had trouble relating to Russell Simmons in the celebrity auction challenge, speaking to him so formally that Russell asked him if he was a lawyer. Carolyn called his approach “textbook,” and Bill said that Kwame needs more experience to complement his education.
Hometown: Los Angeles, California
Last job: Copier salesman
Project Manager: Twice (Flea Market, Art Gallery)
Trips to the Boardroom: 2 (Madison Avenue Pitch, Trump Ice)
Perhaps Nick’s biggest strength is that he is a fantastic team player. Before the Marquis Jet presentation, he gave Kwame a crash course in public speaking. When he was project manager in the flea market task, he let the women take the lead in choosing the product and buying the merchandise. His willingness to defer to their knowledge prompted Katrina to call him a great leader. And after his team won that challenge, he made a point of congratulating them on a job well done. Nick also knows how to recognize good players. He choose the new members of the co-ed Versacorp, a team that has gone on to win five of the last eight challenges.
Although Nick is great as part of a team, he also knows when to step up and take charge. In the Art Gallery challenge, Versacorp was divided about which artist to choose. Rather than wasting time on debate, Nick made the executive decision to go with Andrei. He took charge, stood up for what he believed, and his team ended up winning the task.
Nick also strongly values business ethics. He was appalled by Troy and Kwame’s scheme of having Kwame sign autographs at Planet Hollywood. And in the rickshaw challenge, he insisted on giving a customer a full refund. Nick knows that in the business world, your reputation is everything. In this age of corporate scandals, Trump would be confident that Nick would be a straight arrow.
Nick claims that his greatest strength is his ability to sell. Before the Trump Ice challenge, he said that the other players should stand back to see how it’s done. The trouble was, Nick failed miserably. We saw him go from trying to sell one customer a truckload of water to asking him to buy just one case. Then, in a nightclub, he took the completely wrong approach by talking about the quality of the water when the customer was interested in price. Overall, Nick totally failed to read his customers, and as a result, had lackluster sales.
Just as I mentioned with Amy, Nick needs to be careful that his relationship with her doesn’t get in the way of his doing business. He was awfully upset when Amy said that Bill was her biggest competition, so he may be in danger of letting that relationship keep him from doing business rationally.
Nick can also be very arrogant and uninterested in hearing other people’s opinions. That worked for him in the art gallery challenge, but other times, it has backfired. In the negotiation challenge, he learned that the best time to buy gold is early in the day, so project manager Sam had the team stop what they were doing to buy gold. Kwame, who works in the financial sector, said that the price of gold is fixed and fluctuates very little during the day. But it didn’t matter – because Nick said that the gold should be a priority, the men had to drop what they were doing and waste time chasing after gold. In the Trump Ice challenge, when Ereka suggested he check a distributor’s web site to learn more about them before the meeting, he flatly refused. When the other team won the task, it was largely due to the accounts that they got with distributors, so Nick may have made a costly mistake by not doing his homework (though he later claimed to have done it the next morning). And in the Planet Hollywood challenge, after the Kwame autograph scandal, Nick was so upset that he didn’t get his way that he mentally checked out of the task.
Trump has four very strong competitors to choose from. All of them are smart and have had impressive victories. None of them would leave me scratching my head, wondering how they won. It’s hard to say what will happen, especially when Trump surprised me by firing Troy last week. But I think Kwame will be the next to go. He has the worst win/loss record of the four. He has trouble relating to other people and a tendency to be stiff, and he has had the fewest home run ideas. Nick will go next. Nick is very smart and is a great manager, but his arrogance and his inability to live up to his own hype as a salesman will be his undoing. Amy will come in second. Although she has a lot of wins under her belt, of the two times she served as project manager, one time she lost, and the other time she won largely due to a big mistake by her competitor. That leaves Bill as the winner. Bill is a great salesperson, is respected by the rest of his team, and is a fantastic manager. I predict that in the end, Bill will be the only one of the final four to not hear the words, “You’re fired.” We’ll know for sure soon.
Betsy is the Assistant Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached with any comments at email@example.com.
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!