The Apprentice, Episode 13: The Firing Squadby Betsy Wasser -- 04/09/04
First, let me clear up a few things about last week’s challenge. In my recap, I noted that it seemed a little bit fishy to me that Amy and Nick managed to find someone to rent the penthouse at the very last minute. Several readers emailed me to say that it seemed especially odd because Ian, the guy planning the party, wanted to use the space for a New Year’s Eve party, but the contract for the penthouse said you had to be out by midnight. In last week’s episode, when Ian returned, he and his party planner Kate did say that they planned to use the space for a different kind of party, so that explains that. Second, a few people mentioned to me that Amy was wearing a different outfit when she and Nick were sitting in the lobby than she was wearing supposedly minutes later when Ian and Kate returned. No, she didn’t run upstairs and change clothes with just moments to spare. The NBC web site has posted the dossier for the challenge, and although we were led to believe it lasted only a day, the candidates actually had about two days. I hope that clears up some confusion, but I must say, it still seems awfully convenient that things worked out so neatly for Nick and Amy.
Now, on to this week’s episode. Kwame returns to the suite after his trip to the boardroom and finds Bill, Nick, and Amy talking. Kwame declares, “Everything I do is now dedicated to Troy.” He says that he and Troy respect each other, and he’ll miss him. Bill says, “That’s it. We’re the final four.”
The next morning, the Trump Phone rings. Kwame gets the instructions to meet in the Esquire suite at 9:00. The four of them head off, and Bill says, “No matter what happens, we made it down to the wire.” The four open the door of the suite and see Trump, Carolyn, and four people we haven’t met yet. Trump welcomes everyone and explains that the suite was designed by Esquire magazine. It’s a cool place, and he says that if the candidates are successful, they may someday live somewhere like it. He says that they should all be proud of their accomplishments.
Trump introduces the four new people: Norma is his executive assistant (which sounds like a secretary, but later her title is given as VP of Media Relations and HR), Allen is his CFO, Charlie is in acquisitions, and Tom is the head of Trump International Hotels and Trump Tower. These people will interview the four candidates and report back to Trump with their findings. Based on their recommendations, Trump will fire two of them. Trump adds, “So you better do a good job with your interviews.”
Trump says that he trusts these four people a great deal. Together, they’ve worked for him for over 75 years. Trump says that their recommendations are valuable to him because the winner will be working with them. He sends the candidates to the suite to prepare.
In an interview, Nick says that he’s glad that there are no more lemonade stand challenges – now they’re on to the big stuff. He says the question is, “Can you hang and bang with the heavy hitters in the Trump organization? Can you sell them on why they should, basically, hire you?”
It’s time for the interviews. Allen tells Kwame that he seems less energetic than the other candidates. Kwame says it’s a matter of style – “I wear my energy different from others.” Allen says that people in Trump’s organization project a lot of energy, so Kwame might be perceived as too laid-back.
Charlie asks Amy to describe the Trump organization. She answers by telling him what value she can add to the group. He interrupts her and says that she’s not answering his question. She responds – still not answering the question – by saying that it’s important for someone to act as a devil’s advocate, to say, “Charlie, I don’t think you know what you’re doing.” Charlie points out that in many cases, Amy would have no way to judge whether he knows what he’s doing or not – like in construction for example. Amy admits that she doesn’t know much about construction.
Bill tells Norma that he feels like he’s never satisfied, which is a curse for him because he can never rest easy. She says that’s not a weakness, but a strength because he has high standards. Obviously, Norma hit Bill with the classic interview question of “What is your greatest weakness.” Bill tired the equally classic “strength hidden as weakness” response, but Norma has been around long enough to know that tactic, and presses him to reveal another weakness. Well played, Norma.
Nick tells Tom that he’s well-spoken, smart, and has a positive energy. Tom asks him what he has to offer other than his charisma. In an interview, Nick says that not everyone could handle such tough questions. Speaking of tough questions, Allen asks Nick what he’d do on his first day on the job. Nick says that he’d introduce himself, and then lay out his vision for the company. Allen asks him how he could do that on the very first day, not knowing how things work.
Tom suggests that Bill has gotten by on his instincts rather than his education, prompting Bill to defend his education. Amy tells Norma that she would gladly hire another woman. We are finally treated to a montage of tough questions from Trump’s staff. This is an interesting challenge, and a good way for Trump to choose the two best candidates from the final four. His advisors are smart, successful people who know him well. They can ask tough questions, be critical, and see how well the candidates can handle it. It is fascinating, and I would have loved to have seen more of it.
Bill says that the questions were tough, and it could have been a catastrophe to someone who was unprepared. Speaking of unprepared, Amy says that midway through a question, she realized, “I’m not making any sense, so hopefully it’s the quality of how I delivered it and not what I said.” I seriously doubt that; these are sharp people who can see beyond a polished answer to know if there’s any substance. In an interview, Amy says that for the first time after a task, she’s not sure if she’ll make the cut. It depends on what Trump is looking for.
In the boardroom, Trump’s executives give him their reports. Norma says that she really liked Bill and though he was solid. Charlie agrees and says that Bill has the capability to hit the ground running. Allen tells Trump that Kwame doesn’t project his energy outward, and shares that it could be a problem. Trump says it might not be – they have lots of energetic people in their organization, but sometimes the energy is wasted. Tom says that Kwame is a very likeable person, which could translate to his getting more face time in front of a potential client.
Back in the suite, the candidates are nervous. Kwame says that Tom asked him how he could vouch for him after his losing record. Nick says that Kwame and Bill seem less confident than they did before.
As for Nick, Charlie says that he liked him as a person, but that he’s not impressed with Nick’s intellect. Allen says that Nick is a great salesperson, but there’s nothing else there. Tom is harsher. He tells Trump frankly, “I can’t see him running one of your companies, Mr. Trump.” He goes on to say that Nick is “a little bit too slick for his own good.”
Norma thinks Amy would get on her nerves after a while. She thinks that Amy would overplay her role as the energetic young go-getter. Tom adds, “Honestly, Mr. Trump, she irritated the hell out of me.” He thinks she’s driven, but wonders about her motivation. Charlie compares her to a Stepford wife and says that their conversation was boring. Trump is surprised to hear all of this about Amy, but says that he trusts their judgment. He sends for the candidates.
Can you imagine how horrible it would be for Nick or Amy to watch that segment on TV? Yikes.
Trump asks Nick if Kwame is good. Nick doesn’t answer the question directly, and George tries to interject, and Trump tells him to be quiet. Indeed, the only flaw with this episode is that we didn’t hear much at all from George and Carolyn. Trump asks Nick if Kwame is a good leader, and Nick says that is an “area of opportunity” for Kwame. In other words, no.
Kwame says that he would not be comfortable working for Nick. Nick is good, but not great. Trump asks Bill who he would fire. This time Bill doesn’t hedge and says he’d choose Nick. Nick is a great salesperson, but he doesn’t have the depth of experience that the others have, since he has only worked in sales. Nick protests being known as just a salesperson. Amy agrees that she would fire Nick. Nick looks upset, but not as upset as he did when she called Bill her toughest competition. Trump says, “That’s the end of that marriage.” He calls Amy a cold-hearted person, but Nick says it’s okay. Nick says that Donald Trump has a presence, and that presence inspires the people who work for him. Nick thinks he has those same qualities. Man, if Nick gets fired, will they be able to call a second cab for his enormous ego? Trump tells Nick that he’s an excellent sales person, but not a leader. He didn’t earn the respect of Trump’s advisors or of his peers. He’s fired.
Nick’s exit interview is gracious. He says that he’s only 27, so he has less work experience than the others. He’s grateful for the opportunity and has no regrets.
Back to the boardroom. Trump asks Amy if Bill is as smart as Kwame. Amy gives a wordy answer that boils down to no, based on Kwame’s degree. Bill disagrees. He graduated cum laude from Loyola and could have gone to business school or law school, but he followed a different path. Just because he did that does not make him less intelligent. Kwame agrees. I bet Loyola University will put Bill on the cover of their alumni magazine soon, because he is talking them up. Trump asks if Amy has more energy than the two of them. Bill says no, that she just has a different style.
Trump turns to Amy and says that up until that day, she was considered a superstar, but he heard a lot of negative feedback about her. What should he do? Amy throws it back to him and says it’s up to him. Way to waste an opportunity to make a case for yourself, Amy. Trump says that Amy did the best in terms of action, but that his advisors said there was little substance behind her words. If she’s going to be successful working for him, people must be inspired by her and respect her. Because she seems incapable of that, she’s fired.
Amy’s final interview is upbeat. She says that she knows there are good things in store for her, and she thinks the challenges were like an accelerated MBA program. She is grateful for all she’s learned.
Trump congratulates Kwame and Bill – they impressed everyone. But how well can they perform as executives and managers? They will meet Trump back in the boardroom for their biggest challenge yet.
The two guys go to the roof to celebrate making the final two. They pour champagne and Kwame toasts, “To opportunity.” Bill says that he has presented himself honestly, and he’s proud of it. Kwame says that his mother was the first person in his family to finish college, and that his grandfather signed his name with an x. He believes that his accomplishments are the American dream. I think that’s a far better example of the American dream than Sam’s claim that buying a thousand dollar glass of lemonade is living the American dream. Kwame says to Bill, “May the best man win.” Bill says, “I think we already have.”
It’s time for our penultimate Trump lesson, “Dog Does Not Eat Dog.” Trump says that it is very important to surround yourself with loyal and talented people. If a person is disloyal to you once he probably will be again.
Kwame and Bill meet Trump in the boardroom. Trump says that people might have thought he’d choose two beautiful women, but he’s certain these two guys are the best. Their final challenges are to oversee major events. Bill will be in charge of the Chrysler Trump golf tournament at the Trump National. Kwame will tackle the Jessica Simpson concert at the Trump Taj Mahal. And since they’re going to be executives, they’ll need employees. Trump has Robin send in the staff.
Working for Bill and Kwame will be none other than Amy, Heidi, Katrina, Nick, Omarosa, and Troy. The two candidates will choose their employees. Bill picks Amy, Katrina, and Nick. Kwame selects Troy, Omarosa, and Heidi. Trump says that Bill and Kwame will take private limos to the tasks and will meet their staffs there.
Kwame has the unfortunate situation of bringing Heidi and Omarosa back on the same team. The two of them hate each other. But Bill has Katrina on his team, and Katrina isn’t exactly a Bill fan. It’s going to be tough for both of them.
Kwame notes that he has basically reunited his old Protégé team. From the backseat of the limo, he calls his team in their SUV. My husband imagines Heidi and Omarosa in the backseat bickering. “She’s on my side! Troy! Make her stop!” Kwame says that Heidi will meet and greet people, Troy will be in charge of promotions, and Omarosa will handle logistics. Omarosa says, “We’ve got to make sure that you shine.” Kwame explains again that his management style is to hire good people and to let them do their jobs, not to micromanage.
Bill’s team meets in Briarcliff Manor at the golf course. He’s eager to start planning right away. He starts by meeting Leslie, the director of sales and events. He and his team start dividing up tasks. Nick will place cars along the course and handle signage. Katrina will pull together gift packages for the players, and Amy will handle Donald Trump. Bill then tries to get his rather lethargic looking team on board. Amy blandly agrees that the ideas are good. Nick yawns, and Katrina says they’re a team… after Bill prompts her. That’s not a good sign.
At the Taj Mahal, Kwame and his team meet with, among other people, Mark, the guy we met in the Atlantic City challenge. Kwame asks him what he considers a successful event. Mark says that he’s happy if the entertainer has been taken care of. Huh – not a happy audience or good ticket sales? That’s odd.
The team goes out for dinner. Omarosa gets a phone call from Diane in the transportation office and leaves the table to take it. Diane tells her that she needs to make sure all of the arrivals are coordinated so that Jessica and her band will make it to the hotel on time. Omarosa tells Diane that she’s having dinner and asks her to take care of it. Diane says that she’s worried about potential problems.
Omarosa returns to the table, and Troy, very naturally, asks what the call was about. Instead of just answering his question or saying it was no big deal, she says snootily, “I’m not going to have that conversation.” Troy, who can’t believe she won’t tell them, asks again, and gets no answer. In an interview, he says that because she won’t say what the call was about, “I raise an eyebrow.”
The next day, Kwame’s team meets in his hotel room to review plans. Omarosa says that Jessica Simpson is set to arrive in the hotel at midnight, and she’d like for the whole team to greet her. The phone rings, and Omarosa answers it with an annoying high-pitched “Kwame Jackson’s room!” It’s Diane, and she wants to talk to Kwame. The van for the band is at the airport, but no one knows where the band is. She tells Kwame that she talked to Omarosa the night before, then puts Kwame on hold. Kwame asks Omarosa about it, and she bats her eyelashes at him innocently. Diane comes back, and Kwame confirms that she talked to Omarosa about this the night before. Omarosa takes the phone and coos that she wonders what the misunderstanding was. Diane says she told her to work out the flights. Omarosa says she’ll call her back and hangs up the phone.
Can I just say, one of my biggest pet peeves in the business world is when someone screws something up and calls it a miscommunication or a misunderstanding. There was no miscommunication. Diane told Omarosa what needed to be done, and Omarosa couldn’t be bothered to do it.
Kwame asks Omarosa about the phone call at dinner. Omarosa tries to avoid the question and says that she called Diane before dinner. No, he’s talking about the phone call she took at dinner. Omarosa says that it was Diane’s office calling to say that Diane had left for the night. There was no emergency. Wow, she just totally lied.
Troy asks Omarosa why she didn’t tell them at dinner what the call was about, and she trots out the tired old “I’m telling you now” excuse. He is shocked at how Omarosa has dropped the ball. Kwame calls Diane back and apologizes for the snafu. Heidi says in an interview that she thinks Kwame should have talked to Omarosa about what she did, but that he wants to avoid conflict. Meanwhile, Diane looks fed up and worried that the band won’t have transportation.
In an interview, Kwame says, “If I were running the show, I’d fire incompetent people, but I don’t have the luxury of doing that.” My guess is that it’s somehow against the rules of the dossier for Kwame to actually fire Omarosa, so he’s decided to just do his best to work with her in the limited time of this task. So far, I’ve got to say, it’s not going too well!
At Briarcliff Manor, Carolyn and Leslie talk to another woman who is upset that inventory is being stored in the garage of a model home. She goes to talk to Bill. Bill says that they are storing the items for the gift bags there, and says that surely it’s not the first time the garage has been used for storage. Leslie tells him that it’s courteous to get the manager’s approval first. Bill dismisses her, saying there is no problem. He says in an interview that Leslie treated him like he was dumb and inexperienced, but that he’s not. “I’m not some rookie who can’t walk and chew gum at the same time.” I agree with Bill that finding storage for the upcoming golf tournament was a lot more important than keeping the garage empty, but he was rather arrogant in the way he handled Leslie.
Little by little, Bill’s office gets loaded with stuff – golf bags, gift bags, and tons of boxes. Bill says that Leslie has been displaced, but that frankly he doesn’t care what she thinks. Bad idea, Bill. The camera pans to Donald Trump’s golf clubs amid the chaos.
I don’t recap commercials, but I just have to say that the trailer for Spider-Man 2 looks awesome.
Kwame’s team has dinner with Joe Simpson, Jessica’s dad and manager. Omarosa excuses herself to do some work. She gets a call from Diane – Jessica is missing. The driver can’t find her, her luggage, or any record of her on the flight. Omarosa smugly says, “Kwame is currently having a wonderful meal. Let’s see what he thinks of the missing rock star.” Omarosa calls Kwame and opens with, “We have a small issue.” She asks him to “report to the office.” I can’t believe she just told her boss to report to her. In the restaurant, Troy and Kwame agree that, “She’ll be okay.” It’s not clear if they’re referring to Jessica or to Omarosa, but Kwame says in an interview that he thinks it’s important to maintain composure in front of your team.
Kwame and Troy join Omarosa in the office. She tells Kwame that the logistics are “sloppy,” and tells him, “It’s all you, baby.” The logistics are sloppy and that’s Kwame’s problem? Hello, it’s your job, Omarosa! Kwame says in an interview that he would never hire Omarosa, as she has proven herself to be incompetent. Kwame says that he doesn’t want to leave Joe Simpson at an empty table, so Troy stays behind to work with Omarosa. Omarosa says that Kwame handled the situation badly, that he should have at least pretended to be worried. Maybe she should have told him something other than, “We have a small issue.” Like, “We have a major problem.” She thinks that because he wasn’t a hands-on manager, they’re in the midst of a huge disaster. That’s one way to look at it. Another way to look at it is that because Omarosa screwed up, they’re in the midst of a disaster. Omarosa gives us our final words for the week: “How do you lose a rock star?”
Next week, on The Apprentice, it’s the two-hour finale! One of the candidates will hear the dreaded, “You’re fired,” but the other will hear, “You’re hired!” Can Bill handle the pressure? Can Kwame handle Omarosa? We see a clip of Jessica Simpson, so if you’re worried, she didn’t vanish off the face of the earth. Jessica says, “I was so confused, I didn’t know what to do.” But if you’ve ever watched an episode of Newlyweds, you know that could refer to something as simple as getting the little paper covers off of the drinking glasses in her hotel room.
Who will it be? Well, my money is on Bill, but Kwame could still pull out a win. We’ll find out next week on the live two-hour finale!
Betsy is the Associate Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached with any comments at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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