The Apprentice 3: Why Erin Lostby David Bloomberg -- 03/31/2005
In what would end up being the final challenge for Erin, she felt like a fish out of water. However, she knew that when she got to the boardroom, she would be able to swim her way out of any problems. Whoops! Guess not. Instead, she ended up in the soup. Why wasn’t this fish thrown back? Why did Erin lose?
There are several easy answers to these questions, but the easy answers aren’t always the right ones – or at least they don’t tell the whole story. For that, we must go back to What ‘Apprentice 3’ Applicants Should Have Learned to see where Erin went wrong.
The first rule, of course, says to show leadership. By this point, everybody has led on a task (Craig was the last remaining contestant to do so), so that’s not an issue. However, it is possible to lead without being the official leader. On this task especially, Erin had no intent of doing that. Instead, she repeatedly talked about how she knew nothing about anything related to Home Depot.
However, there is a more important issue here than Erin – it’s Angie. Had it not been for Carolyn and George, it seemed pretty obvious that Trump was set to fire Angie. She had picked a poor project and hadn’t set up the demonstration well. Two strikes. But, Trump’s eyes and ears pointed out that at least Angie stepped up and made decisions – even if they were wrong ones. She followed the first rule, which in part says, “If you’re going to be blamed for a loss, make sure it’s a loss that you created and that you took a stand!”
Angie made decisions and took the risk, Erin sat back and said she didn’t know anything. Even though they failed, Angie came off looking better in the end.
The second rule is to stay cool under fire. Erin had this particular ability mastered, as up until her final Boardroom, she seemed to know what to say and when to say it, never getting flustered or angry (like, say, Chris). Even her final blunder in the Boardroom was not due to stress, though we’ll get to that later.
Third is to have a backbone. Again, Erin did fine in this department, standing up for herself when necessary either in the Boardroom on in tasks. She refused to let people attack her and always had something to say back. She even tried to send Trump & Co. on a tangent about Chris’ attitude and tobacco chewing when it looked like things were focusing too much on her. Lack of a backbone was not her problem.
Scheming and plotting wasn’t her main problem either, though it almost became Angie’s. Angie pulled Erin aside and told her she would be going to the Boardroom. This gave Erin time to come up with arguments. But Erin was not blameless here, as she shot back at Angie that the presentation was the problem. Erin should have simply taken her lumps and planned her attack. By tipping her hand, she let Angie know her counterattack, thus giving Angie the same benefit that Angie gave her. It ended up being about a draw in that regard.
The fifth rule says to play well with others but to stay professional. Her teammates did not see Erin as “playing well” during this task, considering they felt she checked out early. However, it’s the “stay professional” part that got Erin in more trouble. Specifically, it seemed that Erin was flirting with Donald Trump in the Boardroom. Maybe she didn’t intend it that way – some people wink when they’re making jokes – but it definitely came off that way to some viewers, and possibly to Trump & Co. as well. Furthermore, she came off as a smart-aleck in the Boardroom. Again, that sort of thing is not very professional when you’re doing it to the boss.
Another issue covered by this rule is loyalty. Chris said that Erin’s refusal to help showed disloyalty. I’m not sure I can agree with this. She never was specifically disloyal to the group, like Tammy on the first series. We’ll leave this as a maybe.
But one thing that is definitely not a “maybe” is that Erin was not thinking long-term. Erin was a beauty queen lawyer who found herself stuck working on a task that she knew nothing about. However, last season we saw guys having to work at creating a wedding shop, so pretty much anything is fair game. Rather than just checking out of the task, or even making comments about it, Erin should have found a way to help the team. She should have realized that she was not going to be judged on whether she could make a specific project, but on how she interacted overall. She failed to do that.
She also failed to think outside the box. No, not Craig’s box – doing something in a way that hadn’t been done before. Maybe she didn’t know anything about Home Depot, but why not think of something she would be interested in learning how to do? Or figuring out a way to make the presentation better? Or just doing pretty much anything to get more involved? Erin did none of these things.
By adopting the attitude she did, she also failed in the eighth rule, against being one-dimensional. Indeed, George specifically mentioned in the Boardroom that part of the whole 16-week interview process is to show versatility. Instead, Erin showed that when asked to do something outside her usual area of expertise, she made no attempt to learn or help.
Finally, we come to the area where Erin really blew it – using common sense. It doesn’t take much common sense to know that you should try to help out at every challenge. It doesn’t take much common sense to know that you shouldn’t wink at the guy who might be hiring you. It doesn’t take much common sense to know to not be a wise-ass to the same guy.
Angie was safe, and the balance was tilting between Chris and Erin. Erin should have been smart enough to know not to try to aim it back at Angie. Her target needed to be Chris. Instead, she made a smart-ass remark in response to Trump saying he had to listen to George and Carolyn. That one remark tipped the balance fully in her direction. Maybe Trump would have fired her anyway, maybe not. But with that statement, she ended all doubt in his mind.
Erin had her up and down moments throughout The Apprentice. Until now, however, she had been able to talk her way out of any problems. He who lives by the sword, dies by the sword. Erin lived by her mouth, and it’s also how she “died” on The Apprentice.
Erin thought she could get by with a wink and a smile in the Boardroom. But she had too many things working against her this time. She had not helped to any real degree in the challenge, nor had she even made any suggestions. She showed that when she was presented with an area in which she lacked experience, she could not be counted on to figure out the best way to make herself useful. And to top it all off, she threw any chance she might have had right out the window by her smart-ass remarks in the Boardroom. That is why Erin lost.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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