The Apprentice 2, MVP and LVP: Final Corner Office and Mailroom Assignmentsby Mel Ellis -- 12/14/2004
Before I light into the producers and the contestants for the penultimate episode that saw my favorite, Kevin, unjustly get booted before Sandy, I want to thank everyone for the lively emails and great debates we've had. Interestingly, I was told I was "self-righteous" for disapproving of the Barbie twins' outfits on the candy sale. Apparently, since that's what women wear in Memphis, it seems to make it okay in New York. Who knew? I'm just a boring midwesterner...
Then there are the people who took me to task for giving Kelly credit for the bottle idea when the extras on Yahoo seem to show Ivana coming up with the concept. There was even a brazen reader who awarded the corner office to Ivana on her own! May I just point out that I was given this lofty position of promotions and demotions because I possess a keen insight and a snarky personality (and was willing to take on an extra column each week)? It's not like my decisions are arbitrary. If people went around awarding corner offices willy-nilly, there'd be no one left to make fun of. And we don't want that, now, do we? (Although, I have to give kudos to the person who awarded Raj a job in the ladies' restroom for his appalling behavior toward women. Granted, we'll probably be hit with a whopper of a sexual harassment lawsuit, but how perfect is he for that position? Well done!)
Thanks for the responses, both critical and encouraging. So, how did everyone stack up on this second-to-last episode? As we know, there was no challenge, just interviews. What steamed my weenies (and not in a good way) was that we didn't get to see the interviews in any depth. I want to see how they handled the questions, don’t you? Especially since the "experts" were then brought into the boardroom to talk about each candidate. The consensus seemed to be that everyone thought Kelly was aces, they loved Kevin but thought he was perhaps too intense, they thought Jennifer was all right but lacked motivation, and they liked Sandy as a person but thought she did not have a sufficient education or breadth of experience. I couldn't award promotions and hand out demotions based on stuff I didn't see under these circumstances. So, how to divide up the company? By taking each person individually through the episode. How did they stack up?
Kevin: You was robbed! Nothing more to it than that. To get fired because you are intense and well-schooled? Then to fire Sandy for being your opposite? Seems to underscore my complaint all along – that Donald wants a bland middle-management type. Kevin can come work for my fake corporation any time, and although I can't hand him the corner office, he's getting a lovely office with a view. No Italian leather and the coffee is strictly bring-your-own, but he's proven he's a team player and a good leader (he's 2-0 to Jen's 1-0 record) and he has earned a permanent position. Kevin, you rock.
Sandy: The indignity of having Kevin fired before Sandy almost (ALMOST) made me swear off this show. Sandy's been competent, there's no doubt, but she was the least successful interviewee of the first part of last night's show, and her tendency to scream in the boardroom is thoroughly unprofessional. Then there's the lack of education. How she got third position over Kevin is beyond me. Still, she held her own against Jen and I think she whupped her skinny fanny in the fight. All Jen had to say (and say repeatedly) was that she made a big move to San Francisco. Big Whup! I've moved every three years since I was 18. Give me the job! Sandy didn't deserve to go before Jen, but she should not have outlasted Kevin. And I can't even consider offering her a permanent position until she's completed anger management.
Kelly: I know everyone loves Kelly, but as successful as he's been in the game/interview process, he strikes me as lacking personality. That's the only criticism he got from the interviewers. He's an automaton, albeit a competent one. He just didn't grab me. His first actions this week of enough substance to evaluate for these purposes were selecting teammates for the last challenge. The field from which he chose was strewn with minefields, but I think he picked the stronger of the two teams. I might have exchanged Pamela for Elizabeth, but Kelly never liked Pammy. Also, as a friend pointed out, Elizabeth sucked as a manager but was a hard worker. And she's controllable. Stacy R. and Pam are not. As for choosing Raj, I can't see that as being a plus, except when his other choice was Chris. Chris is not a great worker, has an abrasive personality, and is a complainer. Raj may be slimy and pretentious, but as he said, he wants to win. He'll work for that win. John is also a hard worker, as we saw on the QVC challenge, and he, too, is malleable. I think Kelly can be general of this army and lead it where he wants.
What about the challenge so far? Kelly had the harder of the two tasks, in my humble opinion. Most of us could fake our way through the basketball task (especially if, like me, you love basketball – Utah Jazz rock!), but how many of us have a good grasp of polo? My concerns with him so far have been his micromanagement on the one hand, and, ironically, his inability to control his troops on the other.
His team has a finite amount of time to put the gig together, and John and Co. are doing wind sprints. Why? Because Kelly hasn't let them do their tasks. He's hovering too much and it's ticked them off. Kelly needs to remember that these people have healthy egos (especially Raj) which were severely bruised by being fired and then brought back to help another win a spot for which they thought they were perfect. It's Kelly's biggest flaw besides his lack of personality – he doesn't size people up well. However, he did close down Jen beautifully during the catfight, and I give him props for that.
What Kelly needed to do and didn't seem to comprehend were three things: (1) Give the group small tasks they can do on their own. Give them some rein and see how they do. That's called management. (2) You have an outdoor event, check the freakin' forecast. (3) Always have a backup plan. Kelly's seems to be prayer. I would try setting up a tent and planning an indoor event in case it was too rainy. Here's hoping he comes up with some alternative.
His team picks were wonderful. His management skills were not. Also, he doesn't seem great at thinking on his feet. I can't give him the corner office for the whole week based on his mixed success, but he can have it for three days – his pick. I'll reconsider the rest of the week after I see how he fixes the polo fiasco.
Jen: Why is she still here? Carolyn looks like she swallowed a lemon whole. I was yelling at my TV. It's not just that Kevin left, but Jen is awful. She's humorless, lacking in personality, and lacking in tact. Her attempt to outyell Sandy just underscored her lack of business propriety. She should have remained calm and stated something to the effect of, "a Princeton and Harvard background have equipped me with the training and skills to have a mature and educated argument about our respective merits. I refuse to get into a screaming match." Instead, she threw herself into the mud pit. And I thought she lost the fight. Sandy is more shrill, to be sure, but she thinks better on her feet. How The Donald could determine that Jen bested Sandy is beyond me.
Then there are her poor choices for her team. Pamela is not the best choice, for many reasons. Pammy prefers to lead and, as we saw in the ice cream task, can be a source of delays and poor performance. The basketball event, more so than the polo event, requires someone with a better people skills than Pamela possesses. I think Chris was an okay choice for the task for that reason, although he is a bit abrasive and is too much of a whiner. Then there's Stacy R. Well, Jen got stuck with her, so there isn’t much she could have done, I guess.
As for her behavior during the first part of the challenge, she illustrated exactly what the "experts" didn't like about her in their interviews. She's lacking in motivation and direction. When she didn't have a plan for the Genworth people, they were ticked. It's one thing to present a plan and make it clear that the client can and should bring up alternatives, but to have nothing to present is pathetic.
Also, as seen in her fights in the boardroom, she needs to work on her people skills. When the clients arrived, she didn't go to meet them. She made them come to her. Bad form. Finally, her yelling at Chris Weber's manager/assistant was awful. I can understand her being upset, but who would be more willing to help fix the situation, one who had been talked to politely but firmly, or one who had been screamed at?
It's been a long time in coming, but Jen, get thee to the mailroom, tout suite. You need to work with the little people a bit and get your nose out of the air. You need to develop a sensitivity to others and an understanding of what real work is before taking on the responsibility for managing others.
That's it. There's no need to tally anymore (:::sniff:::). The show's almost over. Thanks again for listening to my rants and for responding to my quips. Make sure to catch the finale next week!
Mel Ellis is a prosecutor and loves a good debate. Feel free to email her with your thoughts on who should be or should have been mail clerks or apprentice CEO's. You can reach Mel at email@example.com.
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