The Apprentice 2: Why Jennifer C. Lostby David Bloomberg -- 09/30/2004
The fourth episode of The Apprentice 2 was enjoyable for several reasons. The producers didn’t try to trick us into thinking one team would lose when it appeared they were not doing as well. We saw Apex going into the toilet right from the very beginning. And we saw Jennifer C. leading them straight into the toilet. Trump had a very easy decision this week, and that was apparent to pretty much everybody.
But why was it so easy? Ah, that’s where we come in here. As always, we will take a look back at What ‘Apprentice 2’ Applicants Should Have Learned and use it as a map to figure out all the wrong turns Jennifer took.
The first rule is, as always, to show leadership. Several times during the Boardroom people talked about Jennifer’s leadership – and it was not in a positive way. They kept talking about she would talk the talk but not walk the walk. Indeed, after the women found out that they had lost, Jennifer still bragged about her alleged leadership skills – before going on to blame “two old Jewish fat ladies” for their loss.
Let’s address this on a couple fronts. First, if she’s such a great leader, why did they lose? For one thing, Raj was a much better leader for the guys, as everybody saw. Ivana said it right at the beginning of the Boardroom – the guys had good leadership and were able to rest and get some sleep before the task. The women didn’t and were up all night.
Next, if she’s such a great leader, why did she need to blame two old ladies for their loss? How many votes in the survey does she think those two women had?! It was a sign of desperation, just looking for anywhere to cast blame other than on herself.
Third, was it the sign of a good leader to offend people by repeating over and over that they were old Jewish ladies? It bothered Stacy, which started a new round of fights at the loft. We never really saw it addressed, but look at it this way: Why did she even bother mentioning their possible religious affiliation? Everybody knew which two women she was talking about. The two old women who were complaining about everything. OK, so where does "Jewish" come into it? For that matter, where does "fat" come into it? If it's irrelevant, why even mention it unless you have some reason for mentioning it? And why repeat it, as she apparently did? If they had been wearing crosses and carrying rosaries, would she have said, "Those two old Catholic fat ladies?" Somehow I doubt it. Maybe she didn’t really mean anything by it, but sometimes a leader is judged by what she says, not just what she means. So it’s really no wonder that Stacy was upset. Making divisive statements is not the sign of a good leader.
On the plus side, Jennifer did at least follow the advice about being a manager and not letting other strong personalities overwhelm her, such as when she decided what type of food the restaurant would serve. Unfortunately, she made that decision without actually checking to see if it was a good idea.
The second rule says to stay cool under fire. While Jennifer did not have problems the same way Stacie J. did in the first week or Elizabeth did this week, she still reacted poorly to stress. It appears that when Jennifer is under stress, she can’t shut her mouth. When she was in the Boardroom in the second episode, even though she was obviously not the target, she wouldn’t be quiet – even after Trump told her to be! As Mike DeGeorge said in his Episode 2 performance evaluation article, Jennifer needed to “Shut. Up.” At the end of that Boardroom, she said she’s learned not to speak up. Um, no, she hadn’t. Because she kept interrupting Carolyn, for one thing. It appeared that whenever somebody said something about her, she had to rebut it instantly, and it didn’t matter who else was talking at the time. Not cool.
On the surface, Jennifer seemed to do okay on the third rule, having a backbone. She did stand up for herself – a bit too much, in fact, as we just discussed. But let’s look at what the rule actually says: “this doesn’t mean attacking them back or getting emotional. But you need to explain your side of the story and show how the person attacking you is really the one who deserves to be fired.” Jennifer didn’t do that. She got personal, she got emotional, she went on the attack. She did not do a good job of explaining why anybody else should be fired – in fact, she did such a poor job that Trump, Carolyn, and Bill didn’t even appear to consider firing the other two women Jennifer brought with her in the end.
The fourth rule is to not be one-dimensional. Frankly, I really didn’t see any dimensions to Jennifer as far as ability or talent. But really, that wasn’t the reason she was fired.
Fifth we have being loyal. In this case, it wasn’t Jennifer’s actions with regard to this rule that mattered, but those of Sandy. Sandy was Jennifer’s good pal. Sandy was loyal. Well, until they got to the Boardroom and Sandy was asked by Trump who she would fire. Guess who? Jennifer! But Jennifer didn’t let that lapse into disloyalty get in her way. She still didn’t bring Sandy to the final Boardroom with her. If she had, then we might have been looking at “Why Sandy Lost” (though I still don’t think we would have, and if we had I think it would not have been deserved). But Jennifer failed to let the disloyalty sink in.
The sixth rule is to not show your hand. Jennifer certainly blew that one, as both Stacy and Elizabeth knew they were going to the Boardroom at the end. This game them both (especially Stacy) time to prepare what they were going to say. And on the flip side, she had assured Sandy that she would not be going, which gave Sandy the freedom to tell Trump that Jennifer should be fired.
Did Jennifer abide by the seventh rule, playing well with others? I think that’s a pretty obvious no. She complained and complained about people throughout the series. She whined about “havoc wreakers.” Etc.
Jennifer also failed in the second half of this rule, which is to stay professional. One example of failing here was mentioned specifically in the rule: “Ereka let Katrina escape the Boardroom because of their friendship, and Trump knew it. … Ereka ended up going home.” Jennifer did the same thing with Sandy – and what’s worse is he did it when Bill Rancic was subbing for George! Bill had seen that very thing happen on his own season, and he was less than impressed. He even lectured her for it! But she paid him no heed. Although décor was rated the lowest and Sandy was in charge of décor, Jennifer chose not to bring Sandy along and instead picked two people who had nothing to do with the loss but were personal enemies of Jennifer’s. Bad move.
Eighth we have the rule to focus on the long-term. This one really didn’t come into play in Jennifer’s firing, so we’ll move on to the ninth rule, which says to think outside the box, but not too far. Jennifer didn’t want to go with a basic Italian restaurant. She wanted something more interesting than that. Fine. But she never bothered to research the area to see if it would fit in. Then, when it didn’t, she blamed the people who were coming to the restaurant! Too far outside the box, Jennifer.
Finally, we have the most basic of rules: Use common sense. Just as Jason in the first series didn’t bother to talk to his client in order to find out what they were looking for, Jennifer didn’t bother to look at the neighborhood to find out what patrons might be looking for. It seems like it should be common sense to see what would fit before just opening a restaurant wherever you please and decorating it a certain way – not to mention having all the employees dress a certain way. Also, I hate to go back to this again but did it really make sense to blame those two old women for their loss? I mean, come on.
Jennifer made bad decisions and believed they were signs that she was getting rid of discord. She blamed other people who had nothing to do with her team’s loss, but failed to put the blame where it properly belonged. She allowed emotions to get in the way of who she brought with her to the Boardroom. And she just would not shut up. There was never really any doubt that Jennifer would be fired this week. Jennifer held herself out to be a great leader, but in fact she was nothing of the sort. That is why Jennifer lost.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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