The Apprentice 2: Why Kelly Wonby David Bloomberg -- 12/17/2004
Kelly has been looking like a good candidate to become the second Apprentice for a while now. When Jen was picked as his final opponent, his win was virtually assured. But he still had to do well on the final task, and he had to do something that nobody had been able to do – beat Jen in the Boardroom. Let’s look at why Kelly won.
Before going further, if you didn’t watch the three-hour finale, I’ll summarize by saying it could have probably been condensed to one. But in any case, you should read Betsy’s finale recap to find out what happened.
To get to the heart of Kelly’s win, we will use the same method that we have been using all season long to figure out why other contestants fell by the wayside. That method is to go through What ‘Apprentice 2’ Applicants Should Have Learned to see where Kelly did things well and where he perhaps didn’t do as good a job.
One place Kelly was excelled was the first and most important rule: Show leadership. Kelly practically exudes leadership. He was Project Manager three times and won all of them. When he wasn’t officially Project Manager, he often stepped up to take a leadership role and do whatever it took. This was one thing that almost everybody agreed on, whether it was viewers, fellow contestants (including those who didn’t like him on a personal level), or the other “experts” that Trump had on the finale.
Trump’s CFO talked about Kelly showing leadership. The head of Unilever said Kelly showed leadership. The head of Genworth said Kelly showed leadership. See a pattern? And these are certainly all people who should know what they’re talking about!
How did Kelly show leadership? In many ways. Raj talked about one that occurred during the final task, noting that Kelly did a good job of mediating between himself and Elizabeth – who suddenly had found her spine. Raj concluded in his interview, “that is a form of leadership.”
Kelly was not a perfect leader. He did spend a bit too much time behind his keyboard and is not the most inspiring person in the world. But he led by example. He stepped up, he worked hard, he took charge, he thought on his feet, he knew what needed to be done and did it.
The part about thinking on his feet leads us to the second rule, about staying cool under fire. Since Kelly was in the armed forces, he had to learn about literally staying cool under fire. I can’t think of a time when we saw Kelly get flustered, even in tasks that his team was losing or when something was going terribly wrong.
Look at the final task, for example. Jen had an issue with the power for the X-Boxes (a major sponsor of her event). She got upset and while she got the problem taken care of, it was certainly not her finest moment. Kelly, on the other hand, had to deal with his own major sponsor issue when he was told they could not paint the Wisk logo where they wanted to. Kelly didn’t get upset, didn’t get flustered. He simply and quickly talked to the sponsor and got their okay to make an alternate choice. No harm, no foul, no problem.
Besides his work in the field, and unlike some of the other players – such as Andy and Sandy – Kelly did not allow Jen, or anybody else, to make him lose his cool in the Boardroom. He quickly and firmly put her in her place without resorting to the type of childish yelling that she often showed us.
Not only did Kelly stand up for himself in the Boardroom, but he was also certainly willing to stand up for his ideas – and they were usually listened to. He even sat down and drew out a clothing design for the fashion challenge!
Indeed, this was one of the things that showed Kelly’s different dimensions. He was not just a salesperson or an idea guy – or a screamer, like Jen. He helped in many different ways, and often led his team by example.
The fifth rule says to be loyal, and Kelly seems to understand what it means. When he worked with people, he didn’t want to then pick them apart based on personal issues. Furthermore, he did well with the corollary, which was the surround himself with the best people – as he did when he tossed Jen off his team.
The sixth rule is to not show your hand. This didn’t have much impact, but that may be specifically because Kelly didn’t go around gossiping (despite what Jen claimed) and making all sorts of drama by plotting out how he would go after somebody in the Boardroom.
Despite the fact that many of Kelly’s fellow contestants did not particularly like him, it was not because of any particular violation of the seventh rule, playing well with others. Indeed, if anything it was because he took the second part, about staying professional, a bit more seriously than they did. Kelly was accused of being “wooden” or “robotic.” There was something to that. But at least he didn’t go around pissing people off like Jen did. Although the other contestants – his co-workers – might not have wanted to go out for a beer with Kelly, most of them agreed that he was the better choice for the job.
The eighth rule is to focus on the long-term. Again, Kelly did a good job at this. He was not willing to compromise himself (as, for example, Ivana did) just to try to win a single challenge. Perhaps as a former soldier, he knew there were times when you might lose a battle but still win the war.
Kelly did not excel at the ninth rule, thinking outside the box. However, when he needed to, he did well at creative efforts. For example, his team created the innovative Pepsi Edge bottle with the hole in the center. Certainly, he was better than Jen, who didn’t even know she was in the box.
Finally, Kelly consistently used common sense. When Carolyn said that he had done some things wrong in the final task, he agreed and said he would learn from it. Compare this to Jen when George gave her some criticism. She became defensive and argumentative, and even raised her voice at George, treating him not like an interviewer but like a fellow player she could shout down in the Boardroom. Her behavior defied common sense – you just don’t do that in a job interview! Kelly, however, showed a willingness to learn – after all, isn’t that what being an apprentice is all about?
Jen was really never any competition for Kelly, and the overwhelming tide of opinion in Kelly’s favor was solid evidence of that. Every time somebody was asked why Kelly should win, they said it was because of his leadership. Kelly used the same reasoning, explaining that he “stepped up and delivered.” His overall record was ten wins and four losses, compared to Jen’s below-.500 record of six wins and eight losses. He did indeed step up and deliver. Truly, there was probably nobody in the Final Four who could have beaten him.
Kelly did not just talk about getting the job done, he did it. He did not just talk about drive or ambition, as Jen did, he showed that he could back up his words with action. Kelly worked well with people even if they didn’t particularly like his personality. He could think on his feet and not get flustered. Most importantly, Kelly showed himself to be a good leader. That is why Kelly won.
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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