The Apprentice 3: Why Michael Lostby David Bloomberg -- 02/22/2005
Michael was not exactly a go-getter in Magna Corpís massage parlor/spa task, but normally that does not make one a target for firing. However, Michael has been wearing a target for several weeks now, so it was really only a matter of time. Why did his time come now? Could he have avoided it? Why did Michael lose?
These are the all-important questions this column seeks to answer each week. As always, we will look back to What ĎApprentice 3í Applicants Should Have Learned to see what we can put together.
The first rule, of course, is to be a good leader. We saw Michael lead once, in the motel refurbishing task. His team won, but was it because of him or in spite of him? I would have to say the latter. Much of Magnaís ranking on the customer survey came from service issues rather than how well they had done in remodeling. But Michael was much more concentrated on the latter, to the extent that he had everybody painting rather than listening to Verna, for example, when she wanted to discuss how to make the customers happy. Danny appeared to be mostly responsible for the evening party, and Bren took over breakfast duties after Verna had her meltdown. In other words, even though his team won, it was not because of Michaelís leadership abilities.
On those tasks when he was not the Project Manager, Michaelís main contributions seemed to be whining, sulking, arguing, and wandering around aimlessly. Needless to say, these are not exactly traits that inspire others.
The second rule is to stay cool under fire. During the challenges, Michael presented his ideas and, if they were not taken, would act like a child. Later, when he was supposed to be doing something, he generally did it half-heartedly. From one standpoint, at least he wasnít getting stressed out and so was following this rule. However, his behavior is not exactly what I would consider ďstaying cool,Ē so I canít really give him any credit here.
His Boardroom behavior wasnít any better. He whined there as well and was somewhat defensive (of course, he had plenty to be defensive about). In fact, he was so defensive that he interrupted Bren when Bren was going after Stephanie!
Third is to have a backbone. Michael definitely stood up for his ideas, and in fact refused to ever admit that anybody else had a better one. However, on top of that backbone rested the brain of a five-year-old child. I could say that my five-year-old has a backbone too, but itís really just the stubborn nature of a child who wants his way Ė the same is true for Michael.
Michael violated the fourth rule, which indicates that scheming and plotting usually donít work. He and Stephanie knew they were likely Boardroom targets, and so planned to stick together against Bren. The problem is that Michael actually held to it when a different target Ė namely Stephanie Ė was in Trumpís sights! He was only thinking about ganging up on Bren, but ignored the possibility that Bren, an attorney, might just be able to argue himself out of the situation and focus instead on Stephanie. Michael should have sat back and let it ride, allowing Bren and Stephanie to fight. Instead, he jumped in as part of his plan and ended up bringing Trumpís focus back to himself.
The fifth rule says to play well with others, but stay professional. Michael did neither. Weíve already discussed the way he acted when things werenít going his way, but there were even more, like when he was playing around so much that Danny had to threaten him with a timeout!
Michaelís behavior would not be tolerated in any corporate structure of which Iím aware, for a variety of reasons. First, employees need to understand that while good managers are willing to listen to their ideas, that doesnít mean the employee will always get his/her way. At some point, the manager is going to say, ďItís done,Ē and the employee will be expected to go along with it. This happens every day in any employer/employee situation. Michael simply could not handle it. Second, we move into how he showed his displeasure and being overruled Ė as Iíve said, acting like a five-year-old. To be more specific, acting like a five-year-old who deserves to be punished.
Michael was so disliked on his team that the entire group of them got together and tried to get Donald Trump to overrule exemption. It was a stupid move, but it shows just how much they could not stand Michael and how horribly he failed at the fifth rule.
Sixth is to focus on the long term. Frankly, I donít think Michael could focus on much of anything beyond maybe when his next slice of pizza would be coming. The way he acted certainly showed he did not understand the idea that this is a long-running game and the idea is to make it all the way to the end. Michael deluded himself into thinking heís just like Trump, but thereís no way Donald Trump would act anywhere close to the way Michael did!
Letís look at one instance of poor long-term (and for that matter, short-term) thinking. Michael was half-heartedly trying to peddle the groupís massages and spa packages in the street. When he saw that George was there, did he perk up and try to put on the best face possible for one of the people reporting to Trump and helping make the decision on who should go? Nope. Instead, he walked over and complained to George that itís creepy for a man to sell a massage. George disagreed with Michael, but did he take the hint? Again, nope. He brought up the same issue in the Boardroom, with George sitting there! Thatís no way to stick around, even if he had made it past this particular Boardroom.
The seventh rule says to think outside the box, but not too far. One problem Magna has had is, as Bren said, not being creative enough. However, Michaelís ideas tended not to be creative, just dumb. They were often outside the box Ė but way too far to be of any use to anybody.
Eighth is to not be one-dimensional, and Michael wasnít. However, this time itís not a good thing, because he was pretty much zero-dimensional. He couldnít lead, he couldnít follow, he couldnít sell, he couldnít come up with ideas. He couldnít really do anything.
Finally, we have the rule that says to use common sense. I hardly know where to begin with Michael. Most of the items that fall here have already been discussed elsewhere. For example, it defies common sense to complain to George! However, one deserves special mention.
One part of this rule specifically deals with how to act as a Project Manager in the Boardroom, but it can also apply to anybody else in the Boardroom. It says players ďneed to listen to TrumpÖ and pay attention to what he says about people.Ē Michael was so interested in slamming Bren that he completely missed the fact that Stephanie was the one whose head was approaching the chopping block. So he jumped in to attack Bren, which was simply not a smart move at all. If somebody else is being targeted, by all means let them be the one to face the fire!
Despite what Michael thought, he was not like Donald Trump. He was more like the Anti-Trump. He did so many things wrong that itís frankly amazing he ever thought he should be a contestant on The Apprentice. He took on no particular role Ė he was not a good leader, a good salesman, a good thinker, or even a good follower. Heck, he even burned his pizza in the oven! He was also lazy, whiny, bratty, and stubborn. He broke just about every rule for playing The Apprentice, and made up some new ones to go against as well. Michael may well be the worst Apprentice candidate so far, and thatís saying something. That is also why Michael lost.
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David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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