The Apprentice 2: Why Chris Lostby David Bloomberg -- 11/18/2004
Chris set himself up for either a spectacular success or a horrible fall when he told Trump & Co. that the team did not work well together. Trump fired Raj and made Chris the Project Manager for the tenth task.
Unfortunately for Chris, the task was creating a one-day bridal salon. Double-unfortunately for Chris, the opposing team had somebody on it who runs a bridal salon. “Spectacular success” did not seem to be in the cards.
But are the reasons that Chris was fired so simple? Or do we need to look a bit more closely not just at the task, but at the taskmaster? It’s the latter, of course, so why did Chris lose?
Since we’re going to be looking more closely, the way we do it is based on What ‘Apprentice 2’ Applicants Should Have Learned. So let’s get to it!
What Trump is looking for the most is a contestant who shows leadership. However, the only kind of leadership that Chris showed was leading his team right into a big hole. We saw Chris throw up his hands at the futility of the task in a gesture that reminded me of a young child getting upset because he didn’t get the cookies he wanted for dessert. In other words, Chris was acting like a spoiled brat, not a fearless leader.
When Ivana and Jennifer (usually enemies, but willing to stand by each other when they realized they had a common foe in Chris) were discussing Chris’ behavior, Ivana noted that Chris had given up within the first five hours. Jennifer wasn’t so nice, cutting the time down to ten minutes.
Furthermore, Chris never divided up the group or gave out specific tasks. They all wandered around together, never maximizing their time or opportunities. He never made a plan, even though Kevin wanted him to, instead apparently preferring to look busy rather than actually accomplishing something. Believe me, I know people like that in the real world – they aren’t good leaders either.
This leads directly into the question of whether Chris stayed cool under fire. On the task, the obvious answer is “no.” Why? Because he froze. He was overwhelmed by the task and the futility of the few things he tried. He didn’t know what to do. That, my friends, is a poor way to handle stress.
If Chris had a backbone, and thus followed the third rule, it was well-hidden when he slumped to the floor in despair. In the Boardroom, he did not stand up for himself particularly well – though that is likely due to the fact that there was little he could say at that point to deflect blame!
The fourth rule says a person cannot be one-dimensional. This task was a perfect example. A good salesperson would have been helpful, but first they needed to get sellers interested, then they needed to get buyers to the store. Chris himself did not need to be a good anything, in particular, other than a good leader. And we already have addressed how that turned out!
Chris really screwed up on the fifth rule – being loyal. In the previous episode, he has told Trump & Co. that his team would keep losing because they had problems. Carolyn was precisely correct in saying he shouldn’t complain about the problems, he should work to fix them! I can just see going to my boss and saying, “Sorry, we can’t get anything done. We don’t work well together.” I’m sure she would just tell me, “Oh, okay. Well then just go sit in your office and wait until there is a reshuffling of personnel and you get somebody you can work with.” Not. She’d tell me to go out there and [bleep]ing do something about it! That’s exactly what Chris was told. Hopefully, if it ever happened to me I’d do a significantly better job than he did!
Before heading into the Boardroom, the teammates shared some of their thoughts on what would happen. Chris said he would go down swinging – though, really, we just saw him go down in a heap, no swinging involved. Because of his advance notice that he would be “swinging” at them, Ivana and Jennifer had the opportunity to join forces against Chris, but I suspect they would have done that anyway. Still, Chris might have wanted to consider trying to spring a surprise on somebody – because that was really the only chance he had, small though it might have been.
What about playing well with others, the seventh rule? Well, Chris had always been something of an annoyance, to players and viewers alike. But he never seemed to rise to the level that people were gunning for him due to that specific reason.
Eighth is the admonition to focus on the long-term. Let me state for the record that I think Chris could have made it through this firing. If he had focused on the long-term point of this competition, Chris would have assigned tasks and busted his butt to get things moving. Then, even if his team had still lost, he could have had a strategy to stick around – perhaps by blaming those in charge of advertising, for example. Instead, he became so overwhelmed with the short-term goal of winning this particular challenge that he didn’t focus on the game overall.
The ninth rule says to think outside the box. The immediate thought of turning the storefront into a consignment space was a good one – after all, you don’t want to have to buy and sell and create an inventory for a single day. But beyond that, I’m not sure there was any thought in this team. Handing out flyers at train stations? Dumb idea, as evidenced by the couple scenes of trashed flyers. There was absolutely no bang for their buck. Even if Chris didn’t know about theknot.com in particular, he should have known there had to be a better way to reach a specific audience. (For example, if you wanted to reach an audience of reality TV viewers, you would advertise with RealityNewsOnline.) But Chris apparently never even thought of that, nor did he encourage the rest of his team to think about ways to get people in, because he never assigned anybody to that specific task.
Finally, we get to a rule that Chris particularly blew – using common sense. Let’s see how many different ways Chris messed up here.
Chris complained in the Boardroom that the other team had Sandy. Carolyn correctly pointed out that Chris simply had to get a consultant of their own to even the score – which, in fact, they ended up doing! That consultant ended up helping them almost out of chance, though; Chris did not initially make the effort to actually get somebody knowledgeable to help. He doubled his lack of common sense by complaining about it in the Boardroom.
Chris needed to spark his team into action. Instead, he snuffed any fire they might have had. Common sense would dictate that giving up is not the way to lead a team to a win.
Chris cold-called bridal stores and expected them to agree with his idea for a salon showing the next day when he had no plan on what to tell them. It’s no wonder he faced hang-up after hang-up. Small business owners have better things to do than entertain bizarre ideas without any plan behind them.
Flyers at Penn Station and Union Station? ‘Nuff said.
We could go on, but we’ve made the point – Chris failed to use even a shred of common sense here.
Chris failed in so many different ways, it’s something of a wonder that Trump didn’t once again forego the final choice before firing, the way he did with Elizabeth. But really, all of them point back to one issue, or in our case, Issue #1. Trump said it when he fired Chris and I think it’s rather obvious. Chris didn’t lose because he had to create a bridal salon while up against an opponent who does that for a living, because Chris barely made the effort. Chris was simply an incredibly poor leader. That is why Chris lost.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other Apprentice 2 Episode 10 articles:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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