The Apprentice 2: Why Jen Lostby David Bloomberg -- 12/17/2004
Many people – myself included – figured that for Jen to win, Kelly would have had to screw up massively. We were right. But why did it get to the point of being so lopsided? And what did Jen do to seal her fate? Why did Jen lose?
Before going further, if you didn’t watch the three-hour finale, well, then lucky you! But you should first read Betsy’s finale recap to find out all about what happened.
Now that you’ve done that, we can move on. Even though Jen was the final person fired on The Apprentice 2, we will still go over her loss the same way as everybody else’s, by looking back at What ‘Apprentice 2’ Applicants Should Have Learned to see where she went wrong.
The first, and most important, rule is to show leadership. Well, right here we have a big problem. Jen was the Project Manager all of once. Not a good starting point.
But Jen claimed she showed “quiet leadership.” Frankly, I didn’t think there was anything “quiet” about her. As examples, she talked about how she named the toy car in the first challenge. Um. Whoopee. That’s not leadership, that’s… well… I’m not sure what it is. I hesitate to even call it “creativity” because Jen never really showed she had that, either. But at least we can agree that coming up with a name is not leadership. The other examples she gave were about as impressive.
Of course, even if she did show “quiet leadership” when she wasn’t in charge, her record of six wins and eight losses does not speak well for her!
How did she lead on the final task? Well, she got the job done, but she did not exactly impress. It seemed that whenever an issue came up, she kept tossing it back into somebody else’s lap. Genworth didn’t like the early set-up, so instead of proposing ideas, she asked them. X-Box was unhappy that the power blew. Jen got it fixed, but not before pissing off the X-Box rep by repeatedly asking what he thought and then accusing him of arguing with her. He said clearly that he wanted her to “make the problem go away” and did not want her to send somebody else to talk to him.
Furthermore, she delegated far too much of the important stuff. She should have been the one making initial contact with the NBA. She should have been the one making sure that Trump and other VIPs knew about the reception. Instead, she was working on small details, like staying up late and printing signs. That task could have easily been delegated to somebody else.
I think Pamela said it best when in the Boardroom after the task when she said, “I don’t think Jennifer’s style is to go above and beyond the call of duty.”
As the final nail in Jen’s leadership coffin, let’s revisit some of the other opinions we heard at the finale. First season Apprentice Bill Rancic said Kelly stepped up, took accountability, and got results. Jen? Nuh-uh. Trump’s CFO said that only Kelly showed leadership and clear objectives. Alan from Unilever talked about Kelly showing consistent leadership. The head of Genworth agreed that Kelly had good leadership and execution. It was, in short, a blowout against Jen from those who should know.
So we know she failed in the most important aspect. What about other areas?
The second rule says to stay cool under fire. In tasks, Jen generally did okay at this. I don’t recall seeing her crumble under pressure. However, she didn’t exactly shine under pressure either.
We mentioned Jen and the X-Box problem a couple paragraphs up. Compare this to the way Kelly handled the situation with Wisk and the field logo. He didn’t argue with the field owner or get snippy with people. He immediately called Wisk and worked out the problem. Done. He was under pressure to make sure this major sponsor was handled properly, and he kept cool about it.
One place Jen definitely did not keep her cool was in the Boardroom. Several times she went into overdrive in attacking people and, in my opinion, getting overly emotional and defensive. Trump seemed to reward that a couple times, but I cannot imagine he would actually allow somebody to behave that way in one of his real boardroom meetings.
The final straw, in my opinion, was the way Jen acted in the final recorded Boardroom (as opposed to the live one). When George pointed out some flaws, Jen went after him the same way she had previously gone after people like Sandy. She was defensive, she raised her voice – it was not smart. Maybe she could get away with treating her competitors that way (though, again, I don’t think she should have), but George was, in effect, one of her interviewers, and she snapped at him! Not smart.
Jen didn’t have a problem with the third rule, though, as she certainly had a backbone and was willing to stand up for herself. As we discussed above, perhaps a little too much!
However, as we move to the fourth rule, that you can’t be one-dimensional, we get back to problems again. When Jen talked about why she should win – whether it was to the camera in interviews or to Donald Trump & Co. – she kept talking about her “drive” and her “ambition.” She said Kelly didn’t have the same “drive” and “ambition.” She discussed how she was driven to get to the top of her class. Etc.
What was missing from these discussions? Skill. Leadership. Ability to work with people. Jen had only one dimension: Drive. She did not have any of the other features that are necessary for a position like this.
The fifth rule says to be loyal. Jen had loyalty issues, such as when Andy told her that he was going to go after Sandy in the Boardroom, and then Jen revealed the discussion! Jen would work fine with somebody during a task, and then turn on them completely in the Boardroom if necessary.
The sixth rule, not showing your hand, didn’t really apply here since it was down to the Final Two. So let’s move on.
The seventh says to play well with others. Oy. Where do we start? Jen was definitely not the most well-liked person by her fellow contestants. Many of them didn’t particularly like Kelly, either, but they respected him. I don’t think the same could be honestly said about Jen. Even George, who seemed to favor Jen, said twice that she was abrasive.
Another thing we can’t say about Jen is that she focused on the long term, as the eighth rule says to do. Jen was all about beating whomever was her competition at the time. And she really didn’t seem to care how. If she had to scream at that person in the Boardroom to get ahead, so be it. If she had to act like she had done the work when somebody else had, too bad for them.
But one feature about The Apprentice makes all of that problematic – Donald Trump (and, indeed, the world) see it all before he makes his choice. This is not Survivor where you can be nice in front of people and nasty behind their backs and still get the prize. Trump got to see all of Jen’s antics before he decided.
Even without that issue, we go back to the screaming matches in the Boardroom. Those might have gotten her past the people she out-yelled, but I simply cannot see it impressing Trump. And she never learned. When it came time for her absolute final arguments, she went on the attack against Kelly’s personality again, claiming he was dishonest and questioning his integrity. She was going for the throat and didn’t care what she said, as long as it meant she might win. Kelly, on the other hand, talked about how their records compared. Frankly, her behavior was disgusting as she tried to tear down Kelly to make herself look better. Instead, it just made her look even worse.
The ninth rule says to think outside the box. Sometimes it seemed that Jen didn’t even realize she was in a box – such as in the Levi’s task where she simply could not wrap her mind around the fit wheel idea until she held it in her hands. She may have done well at school, she might be brilliant in some matters, but when it came to creativity and grasping complex issues, she sometimes just didn’t get it.
Finally, we reach the rule that says to use common sense. Jen failed here in many of the things that we’ve already discussed. She failed to personally invite Trump to the VIP party after the basketball game. She failed to understand that screaming at people is not the way to impress the boss. More importantly, she failed to understand that getting defensive upon receiving criticism is not the way to go – such as when she argued with George over what he said, while Kelly accepted Carolyn’s criticism and said he would learn from it.
Jen was a good arguer. I wouldn’t want to face her as opposing counsel in a court of law. However, at some point in the real world – and in Trump’s world – she needed to show that she could do more than yell at people. Jen didn’t.
Jen had many problems along the way, and I honestly don’t think should not have even been in the Final Two. She had a record of six wins and eight losses. She was only the Project Manager once and did not truly step up to lead when she didn’t have the title. She was unpopular with coworkers and those she was supposed to be working for alike. She valued ambition more than skill. All of these things added up as the weeks went on, and they were topped by the fact that Jen was a poor leader while she was facing an opponent who had shown himself to be just the opposite. That is why Jen lost.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other Apprentice 2 Finale articles:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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