The Apprentice 3: Why Verna Lostby David Bloomberg -- 02/04/2005
It has happened a few times in Survivor, but never before on The Apprentice – a player quit rather than being sent home against her will. Even though it might seem like there is no need for an article explaining the situation, it is our duty to look at what happened to lead up to Verna’s defeat. So we will still seek to answer the question of why Verna lost, and we will still do it using What ‘Apprentice 3’ Applicants Should Have Learned as our framework.
The first rule is to show leadership. Verna was not the Project Manager, but took on a psuedo-leadership role as the person in charge of customer service during the motel refurbishing task. She tried to get Project Manager Michael to understand that her job was important, but he was too busy with his own ideas to pay attention to her (and we saw this week that, really, his own ideas are all that matter to him).
This is where the second rule came into play and Verna completely folded under the pressure. The very first sentence of this rule notes, “you, as a player, are going to be stressed plenty.” And she was – as is everybody on the show. The difference is that Verna let it get to her.
She could have fought back, as Kristen did when placed in a similar situation on the Net Worth team (not that I would advocate screaming at people as a good strategy, but it’s better than what Verna did). She could have simply accepted that her boss was not seeing things eye to eye with her and done what he wanted her to do. She could have made a point about the fact that he did not want to worry about one part of the things they would be graded on, and if they lost she could have stuck it to him in the Boardroom.
But she did none of these things. Instead, Verna simply gave up. She abandoned her job tasks and went to bed. When Bren went to talk to her, she told him she was quitting and closed the door. So she packed her bag and walked around aimlessly until Carolyn went to get her.
Verna came back and everybody pretended to be happy to see her. Several people, however, knew there were deeper problems, and they were right. The next day, during the third episode, Verna rested the entire time but still decided to quit. She had failed the second rule so miserably that she could not stay around any longer.
As we’ve already hinted at, Verna also failed the third rule, having a backbone. Yes, she stood up and told Michael that customer service was important, but when he repeatedly told her to leave him alone, she eventually crumbled. What backbone she had was gone.
The rule notes that you need to stand up for your ideas. “If the group agrees with you and you do well because of it, you will gain some status. If they disagree with you and you don’t do well, you can say you told them so.” Verna took neither path.
The fourth rule – about scheming, plotting, and not showing your hand – didn’t come into play here, so we’ll skip it. Though I should note that some people thought Verna was plotting something when she took her walkabout during the motel task, that she was trying to garner sympathy or pull some sort of stunt to keep her around. Obviously, that wasn’t the case.
Fifth is to play well with others but stay professional. Verna mostly played well, but was unable to function when others didn’t play well back. And she certainly failed to stay professional. I can’t think of too many people who consider it professional to walk out on a task simply because the manager didn’t like your ideas and you were stressed out.
Sixth is to focus on the long term. Obviously, Verna was far too focused not only on the challenge at hand, but on her one portion of that task. She needed to take a step back and realize that there was a far bigger world and that Michael’s failure to recognize the importance of her task was not her fault and would not be her undoing – but it could have been his. She needed to think about the entire competition, and just recognize that the world would not end if people didn’t get their donuts in the morning.
The seventh rule says to think outside the box, but not too far. It really had little to do with Verna, other than that motel challenge Project Manager Michael was so boxed in to his way of thinking that nothing could penetrate it – but Verna failed to recognize that and kept pounding away despite the futility of it all.
Eighth is the rule that says not to be one-dimensional. I don’t know that we saw enough of Verna to judge this issue, but we do know that it would have been difficult for her to be a leader and all-around team player in Trump’s world if she could not even handle the second challenge of the game.
Finally, players should use common sense. Obviously, somebody who wants to win should know that walking out of a challenge is not the way to accomplish it. Of course, winning is not what Verna was thinking about at the time.
I think she might have actually used some common sense at the end. Verna really doomed herself when she walked out at the Motel, even though she came back. Trump was nice about it afterwards, but I simply cannot imagine that it was anywhere in his mind that he would ever hire her after that. She would have had to turn into Superwoman to justify coming anywhere close to the Final Two. With that in mind, I have to wonder if Verna herself realized it. She had plenty of time the following day to think about what had happened, and she might have recognized that she was doomed. She might have taken what she felt was the common sense course of action and walked out, thus avoiding any future stress.
However, in mind this does not justify quitting. Maybe she wouldn’t have won. But maybe she could have staged a comeback that would have impressed Trump. If not Trump, maybe she could have impressed others – players need to remember that only one person from each series gets hired by Trump, but others can use their TV time as a job application elsewhere. Verna, unfortunately, will now be remembered as “that woman who quit on The Apprentice,” when she could have been known as “that woman who came back after being stressed out.”
In the end, though, Verna simply could not handle the pressure of the game. Should she have known better? I think so. Even if she only saw the first season before taping this one (as I’m pretty sure was the case, because the second had likely not started airing before this one began production), she should have seen the huge amounts of stress the players faced. Every serious fan knew that they got little sleep, little to eat, and ran around working like dogs almost every hour of the day. And serious job applicants know that you should always do your homework before walking into a job interview. If this process is a months-long job interview, Verna should have known what she was getting into.
Whether she fully understood it or not, Verna could not take it. She folded under pressure, leading to her all-out collapse in the game. There were many ways she could have let the situation play out, but the pressure simply got to her. That is why Verna lost.
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David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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