The Apprentice 2: Why Raj Lostby David Bloomberg -- 11/11/2004
Raj seemed, of all the contestants this season, to have the most personality. However, Donald Trump obviously did not feel he had the most business acumen, as he fired Raj last week. As always, it is now our task to figure out exactly what happened to cause Raj to hear the words, “You’re fired.” Why did Raj lose?
Most of what we will discuss will, of course, come from What ‘Apprentice 2’ Applicants Should Have Learned. However, there is something other than that to discuss as well – something that could lead to a change in those rules for next season.
Before this season began, when I was putting that article together, I originally planned on putting something in about plotting and scheming because I figured people could plan on who they should focus on – as the women’s team did with Stacie, for example. However, upon further deliberations and discussions at the highest levels of RealityNewsOnline, I decided it shouldn’t be in there. After all, unlike Survivor or Big Brother, The Apprentice does not have fellow contestants vote people off. The decisions are made solely by Trump, so all the plotting and scheming in the world might not help you.
The more we watch this season, I think I need to put in at least something about that topic, though. For one thing, like it or not, plotting and scheming did work against Stacie. On the flip side, plotting and scheming has actually hurt several players, as we've seen people bring in others to the Boardroom who didn't belong, just because it was decided that the person should be targeted. Trump did not respond kindly, often specifically noting that he couldn’t figure out why that person was there this time. So I think that there could be a small role for some alliance-building, but there is an even bigger danger of plotting and scheming too much.
Why am I going into this in an article that is supposed to be about Raj? Because Raj was the latest to make this mistake. He and Jennifer decided that Ivana should be targeted because of problems they saw with her overall, and also because the previously-fired contestants who returned in this task also had a grudge against her and would therefore likely go after her in the Boardroom. The problem, of course, was that despite what Jennifer said in her rant directed at Ivana before the Boardroom, Trump & Co. didn’t have any problems with Ivana’s actions this time. Raj brought Ivana in because he thought she would make a good target. Instead, it was seen as a strike against him.
Now that we’ve covered that point, let’s move into the listed rules. The first and most important is to show leadership. Raj had no problems with this one. He often showed leadership even when he wasn’t leading, as in the previous week’s NYPD challenge. And he definitely led in the house-remodeling challenge that got him fired as well. When he went to the Boardroom, he stood up and took responsibility, following the part of the rule that notes, “If you’re going to be blamed for a loss, make sure it’s a loss that you created!”
However, there was one time – one very important time – when Raj took responsibility but didn’t follow his own instincts. Kevin picked a contractor who Raj did not feel was right for the job. But rather than go against his teammate’s recommendation, Raj went along with it, and it did not turn out well. We should note that this wasn’t just Raj saying after the fact that he didn’t like the contractor. In the extra footage on Yahoo, we saw Bradford tell Trump that Raj had told him he didn’t trust the contractor Kevin recommended. This was meant to support the fact that Raj had a good business gut, but Trump correctly pointed out that it didn’t matter if Raj had a good business gut if Raj ignored it.
As the leader, Raj should have said that he didn’t trust the guy and they could have moved on to somebody else. There was always the possibility that the next guy would be just as bad, but as already noted, at least it would have been a loss he created, instead of one he just agreed to against his better judgment.
At other times, Raj did make leadership stands, such as when he decided to knock down one of the walls and make the four-bedroom house into a three-bedroom. It was definitely showing leadership, though I also think it was definitely the wrong decision.
Moving on, the second rule says to stay cool under fire. Raj has always done a good job of this, whether on the challenge or in the Boardroom. He definitely has a great deal of self-confidence and that comes through in everything he does – whether it’s making a decision and standing by it or hitting on the nearest pretty lady. When he was in the Boardroom, Raj calmly and coolly explained what had happened and what he thought the problems were. A good job there.
Raj also did a good job in following the third rule, having a backbone. Both during the NYPD challenge and in the Boardroom that followed, Raj stood up and said he fully backed the militaristic ad campaign. He never wavered or tried to blame somebody else for the idea that he had supported. Similarly, when he led his team to defeat in the house remodeling challenge, Raj made decisions and stood by them – unlike the recently departed Elizabeth.
And Raj similarly did fine with the fourth rule. He was multi-dimensional, taking a variety of roles as the tasks demanded.
The fifth rule didn’t give him any problems either, as he was loyal to his team – if anything, a bit too loyal, as he took responsibility for the contractor rather than trying to put more blame on Kevin for making the choice, even after Trump’s henchman pointed out that if he had recommended a bad contractor, he’d have been fired. He also had a chance to bring Chris into the final Boardroom after he told Trump & Co. that he thought the group was dysfunctional. Carolyn even said that Chris was “disloyal” – something I happen to disagree with, but if she thought it was and Trump agreed, Raj should have considered pulling him in.
The sixth rule says to not show your hand. We didn’t see Raj, in particular, telegraphing his moves – but we did see his henchwoman, Jennifer, doing so when she attacked Ivana before the Boardroom came. This might have given Ivana enough of a hint that she was a target such that she could ready herself and be prepared to defend her activities during this challenge. Jennifer definitely did not help Raj by her actions.
Raj generally followed the seventh rule – playing well with others. He was probably one of the few people left on the show who didn’t have mortal enemies alongside him. However, he failed to follow the “stay professional” part of this rule. That portion was written with the idea of not letting friendships get in the way. However, Raj definitely had some instances when his behavior was not considered professional by others.
The most obvious example of unprofessional behavior was him hitting on the models in the challenge involving creation of a new fashion line. Trump called him out on that one, and I suspect it stuck in his mind. Also in that challenge, we saw Raj run around pulling out fairly ridiculous fabrics to be used in the clothing – again, this looked unprofessional to some of his teammates.
The eighth rule says to focus on the long-term. Raj seemed to be more grounded in the here and now, rather than necessarily thinking ahead. This isn’t always a bad thing in life, but when you’re involved in a competition, you shouldn’t really worry about asking out every pretty woman who crosses your path. It doesn’t give your potential employer a good opinion on what you would be like on the job (although with Trump and his affinity for models, who knows).
Ninth we have the rule to think outside the box, but not too far. Raj is definitely an outside-the-box kind of guy. But sometimes he annoyed his fellow players by going too far. The militaristic NYPD ad campaign was one example of the latter, though most of his teammates went along with him on that one. Sure, there are some people who really want to serve their country and head to the front lines. But the front lines are where people die. I don’t think comparing the NYPD to the front lines of a war was really the smartest idea. If people wanted to be on the front lines, they could sign up for the armed forces. The ad should have focused on what being a police officer meant. He stood by it, but it was still the wrong decision.
Finally, we need to look at whether Raj used common sense. I don’t really think there is anything specifically positive or negative we can say here, other than referring back up to my earlier discussion of whether he really should have brought Ivana into the final Boardroom. However, we didn’t really see Trump & Co. make any comments indicating that he shouldn’t until he had already done so. So I’m not really sure that’s an issue.
In his final words during his long cab ride off the show (as shown on Yahoo), Raj said he thinks he lost because Trump was focused on this particular task, not on everyone’s performance overall. I think it’s just the opposite. Trump even said that Raj made too many wrong decisions, and I don’t think he was talking only about this challenge. Raj suggested and then pushed for the NYPD ad campaign, which had happened only a week (in game time – probably just a few days in real time) earlier and was probably still on Trump’s mind.
This was then compounded with his decision to convert the four-bedroom house to a three-bedroom, to hire a contractor that he didn’t feel was right for the job, to add in a bathroom without having the time to actually make it look like a usable bathroom, etc. Bad decision followed bad decision.
Yes, it’s important to stand up and say, “I made this decision,” even if it’s a bad one. Showing leadership is the most important rule for a reason, and Raj did that. However, there are many leaders out there who make decisions and stand by them – but they are simply poor choices. Trump doesn’t just want a leader, he wants a good leader. He wants somebody who can make the right decisions.
There were many things that Raj did right. But there were many other things that he did wrong. Nobody is perfect, but Raj showed too many instances of choosing the wrong path. That is why Raj lost.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other Apprentice 2 Episode 9 articles:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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