The Apprentice 2: Why Stacie Lostby David Bloomberg -- 09/24/2004
I have to tell you, I am frankly surprised by how many people were shocked – shocked! – that Stacie was fired in the third episode of The Apprentice 2. I’ve seen articles in mainstream news (for example, MSNBC) lambasting the decision, saying there was no reason to get rid of her, it was all a ploy by Trump to get better ratings, etc. To me, though, he made the right decision and it could hardly be more obvious. So let’s take a look and see if we can figure out why Stacie lost.
Before we get into examining this issue by looking back at What ‘Apprentice 2’ Applicants Should Have Learned, let me address the Trump ratings argument. Last year, when many people felt Trump should have fired Omarosa and didn’t, he was accused of keeping her around just to pump ratings because of the conflict. This year, when he chose not to keep Stacie around, he is accused of playing to the viewers again. It seems to me that these are obviously contradictory claims! If he wanted conflict, he would have kept Stacie in. But he didn’t, for reasons that we will now discuss.
The first rule is to show leadership. Stacie really didn’t show any particular leadership. As far as we saw, she didn’t volunteer to be Project Manager for any of the first three tasks. She was assigned petty duties to keep her occupied and out of the way of the rest of the team – like Sam was last season. Her teammates did not trust her with important tasks, likely because nobody wanted to follow her.
When Stacie was assigned a few tasks, they often seemed to go astray. For example, despite living in New York City and claiming to know the area, she was unable to tell her Project Manager what street she was on with the ice cream cart in the second challenge. In the third, despite being given the dimensions of the Crest toothpaste boxes and knowing how many there were, she didn’t bother to figure out how much room they would take up so they would be able to properly transport them.
Even though she wasn’t a Project Manager, she could have done other things to show leadership. Instead, she separated herself from the group – calling them the sorority girls, etc. – rather than trying to step up and show them that she could be relied upon.
The second rule is to stay cool under fire. Here is where Stacie really blew it – back in the first episode. As her team was waiting to find out who won the toy design challenge, she started playing with a Magic 8-Ball. It was a little weird, but it got significantly more bizarre. Rather than recount it again, allow me to quote from Betsy Wasser’s Episode 1 recap:
Maria notices that Stacie is wigging out a bit. A bit? Stacie asks why no one is listening to her. Um, maybe it's because you're playing with a toy and demanding that everyone take it seriously? ... Stacie says in an interview that the mood was both anti-social and anti-Stacie. She goes into full-on paranoia, demanding to know why no one is listening to her and what's wrong. ... I think they just want her to calm the hell down so they can eat their lunch. ... Stacie then asks Bradford what's going on. He tries to calm her crazy ass down, but it's not working. She gets hysterical and says that they've won and they might as well go right now and claim their prize. Everyone does their best to ignore her.Now, was it quite as bad as Ivana said in the Boardroom, that she had to go hide in a corner? No – that was a bit melodramatic (pretty much everything Ivana does seems to be a bit melodramatic). But it was more than just playing with a Magic 8-Ball. She freaked out. She was paranoid. She made everybody uncomfortable as they wondered what the hell she was doing. Why? Apparently because she was under stress and simply couldn’t take it. In fact, she even admitted as much.
There were other times when she was under stress but managed to handle herself okay – such as when the other women had their “say what’s on your mind” session, most of which was targeted at her. But in the very first mission she exhibited strange behavior, and that sort of thing sticks with people when they have just met you.
The third rule is to have a backbone. Stacie definitely had no problems standing up for herself. In fact, she had a bit too high an opinion of herself, leading to her comments about being the best one there, etc. But that didn’t really come into play in her firing.
Fourth is to not be one-dimensional. I would have to say that Stacie failed here – if anything, she was zero-dimensional. We only saw her for three tasks, but I don’t know that we saw anything that she was actually good at. Maybe she was helping sell ice cream or distribute Crest. But that doesn’t take a genius. As already mentioned, she was assigned menial tasks because her teammates didn’t feel they could trust her with important ones.
The fifth rule is to be loyal. It’s hard to evaluate this particular one because there was really nobody for Stacie to be loyal to. She had alienated herself from everybody else.
Sixth is to not show your hand. The person who really failed here this week was Project Manager Elizabeth, who flat-out told Maria what she would say in the Boardroom, thus giving her time to think about how to respond. Bad Elizabeth! But she was lucky that Stacie was still around for everybody to focus on. Stacie didn’t particularly fail or succeed at this – it didn’t really come up with her.
The seventh rule, however, most certainly came up: Play well with others. Stacie, as we already know, did not. What does one part of this rule say? “But don’t come in with the ‘I’m not here to make friends’ attitude.” What did Stacie say? You got it. She didn’t want to make friends with the others. She obviously thought it wasn’t important. But perhaps if she had tried to reach out a little bit and make friends, the “vote” against her wouldn’t have been unanimous and Trump would have had to think more about it before firing her – perhaps giving her another chance.
Again quoting from the rule: “If, however, you at least appear to be nice to people, they are less likely to blame you for things, less likely to single you out for bad tasks, and less likely to call you into the Boardroom.” All three of these things happened to Stacie. Even when the team went over budget in the third challenge – something that was obviously the fault of Maria or Elizabeth – she received some of the blame for Elizabeth’s lack of organization because Elizabeth had to put out Stacie’s fires.
The eighth rule is something that not only players need to remember, but apparently some viewers as well: Focus on the long-term. People need to remember that the challenges are short-term, but the job – the goal of being on this show – is long-term. We saw last season that Trump didn’t make his decisions based on one single challenge. And really, he shouldn’t! Why should Stacie’s bizarre behavior be ignored simply because it occurred during a task they happened to win? If Sam had fallen asleep last season and his team had still won, should everybody have just shrugged their shoulders and said, “Oh well, we can never bring this up”? Of course not!
As the rule says, “failure at a given challenge does not mean you will lose; success at a number of challenges does not mean you will win.” The challenges show Trump different things about the way players react, but they are not the end-all be-all. All we have to do is look back at Bradford’s loss last week to see that. His mistake came not in the challenge, but in the Boardroom. It happened several times last season as well. Just as Trump doesn’t want to hire somebody who makes impulsive decisions, or somebody who won’t stand up for themselves, he doesn’t want to hire somebody who cracks under the pressure – whether it happened in this particular challenge or some other time.
Moving on, the ninth rule says to think outside the box, but not too far. Since Stacie was apparently never given any tasks that required thinking at all – other than thinking about how to get the toothpaste transported, a task at which she failed – it’s hard to evaluate this item. It didn’t really play a part in her firing anyway.
The tenth rule is to use common sense. Stacie failed in this one for a number of reasons. It is common sense to figure out how much you have to transport before showing up to do the moving. It is common sense to be certain of where you are before telling somebody to come and get you. It is common sense not to make a spectacle of yourself with bizarre behavior when you have just recently met these people are they are all looking for the slightest reason to focus negative attention on you. I could go on, but I think the point is pretty clear.
As we look through all of this, I have to shake my head in wonder at how Trump could have fired anybody but Stacie. If he had known about her behavior during the first challenge in last week’s Boardroom, perhaps Bradford would have been safe. Instead, Maria or Elizabeth (I think Maria) received the benefit of another chance. Sure, Maria screwed up this challenge and then tried to make excuses for it. Without much of a track record yet, under normal circumstances I’d say she should have been fired. But Stacie did have a track record – and it wasn’t a good one. She had cracked under pressure in the first challenge and continued to exhibit odd behavior while at the same time remaining distant from her fellow teammates and managing to screw up even small tasks. That is why Stacie lost.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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