The Apprentice 4: Why Jennifer M. Lostby David Bloomberg -- 11/1/2005
While I have already made clear that Josh most deserved to be fired, there are definitely good arguments to support Jennifer’s firing as well. Indeed, I fully expected it to be a double-firing (though not quadruple, as it turned out). What did Jennifer do so wrong that could stand out even with Josh’s incompetence? Why did Jennifer lose?
An episode like this one really needs an examination of the facts. We get to that point easily by looking back at What ‘Apprentice 4’ and ‘Martha Stewart Apprentice’ Applicants Should Have Learned. Soon enough, we’ll find out why Jennifer deserved what she got.
The first rule Jennifer should have been following was to show leadership. The week prior, she was the project manager and screwed up the task. As I noted last week in Why Kristi Lost, “let’s face it, Jennifer did not exactly do a great job here, to say the least. She had problems with Kristi, she didn’t really think about how the float would look until it was done, she decided at the last minute to take half the team shopping rather than staying to make sure the float was done, and she did a horrible job leading the presentation.” It’s as if I was writing “Why Jennifer Lost” a week early.
And in some ways, I was. Trump noted in the final Boardroom that Jennifer had been told she was hanging by a thread the week before and she really needed to show that she deserved to stick around. She didn’t.
The prior week, I thought Jennifer should have been sent home instead of Kristi. She admitted she couldn’t manage Kristi, which often (maybe even “usually”) gets people fired by Trump. Plus, Kristi was just the latest in a string of women this season who were supposedly so hard to work with, according to their teammates.
Trump gave her another chance, but there is no doubt that he kept all her failures in the back of his mind.
In the Dick’s challenge, Jennifer had the opportunity to stand out as a leader even when she was not the project manager. She talked about what a sales goddess she was, and she was given primary responsibility for sales in this was a sales-based task. In the Boardroom, Jennifer claimed that it was all Josh’s fault because the concept of the task changed, pushing the merchandise aside and that he never gave her any direction. While all of this is true and contributed to the reasons why Josh was deservedly fired, it doesn’t excuse Jennifer.
Part of the first rule specifically notes that those not in the project manager role should “step up, take a stand. Don’t just hang back and wait for the Project Manager to screw up.” But the only time we saw Jennifer stepping up was to hawk hot dogs.
How did Jennifer do in the second rule, staying cool under fire? During the task, she seemed okay, but I wouldn’t exactly say she was “under fire.” It wasn’t like she had so much pressure to sell that she just collapsed. Quite the contrary – there was virtually no pressure, which was part of the problem.
But in the Boardroom, Jennifer just barely held it together. The previous week, when she was debating Kristi, it seemed Jennifer was just on the edge of tears – she never broke and they never came through, but it looked like they were due any second. Then, in this Boardroom, recapper Betsy Wasser described it best when she said Jennifer was “increasingly hysterical” as the questions and accusations flew. “Cool” was not a word that could have been used to describe her.
The third rule says to have a backbone. Jennifer had a backbone whenever it came time to defend herself, but I have to wonder where that backbone was beforehand? She did stand up to Kristi the previous week, but she was also the project manager then. When Josh was project manager, did Jennifer actually tell him how she felt about the problems? She claimed she did when they got to the Boardroom, but we never saw it and Josh called her an outright liar – and nobody jumped to her defense.
Based on that and the overall behavior we did see from her during the challenge, I think we can pretty safely conclude that she did not tell Josh about the problems she saw. She probably figured she could just use them against him later – thus, it was really a plan to lose rather than looking for a way to win.
The fourth rule reminds players that scheming and plotting generally don’t work. Jennifer had been part of a pseudo alliance earlier in the game and helped eliminate Toral. But really, Toral eliminated herself. On her new team, Jennifer didn’t seem to have any allies, so plotting wouldn’t have done her any good anyway.
Fifth is to play well with others. Jennifer has had some problems along the way. Certainly, Rebecca is no fan of hers, and Jennifer helped target at least Toral and Kristi earlier more because of personal reasons than business ones. There’s a reason Jennifer was sent over in the swap as one of the three worst – and she was sent by her former ally Alla!
Once she was on Excel, she almost immediately began bragging about what a good salesperson she was and how she was going to sell out of the high-ticket items like radar guns. This is not a way to make friends and influence people – indeed, it served as a launching ground for the guys’ later attacks on her. She really needed to just shut up and let her abilities (such as they were) speak for themselves.
Jennifer also failed in the sixth rule, focusing on the long-term. She became tied up in petty bickering several times, as we’ve mentioned – never a good way to show that you can succeed in business. But an even more specific case is that, as discussed above, she knew she had stayed by the skin of her teeth the previous week. Long-term thinking would have told Jennifer that she needed to shine, not step back and try to blame somebody else for the loss. But she went with the latter route.
Seventh is to understand the challenge. While Josh failed miserably here, Jennifer in theory knew that the point of this challenge was to sell. However, in practice, she blew it. We saw her selling hot dogs when she should have been pushing batting gloves.
Indeed, Jennifer seemed to think she could sell high-ticket items like radar guns, but she sold none. Why is that? Likely because such an item is not an impulse buy. However, if she had focused on the lower-cost items like the aforementioned batting gloves, she likely would have had better luck. She could have hit up parents waiting in line, let the kids try a pair of gloves while in the cage, and then followed up to close the sale. Parents would have been a lot more likely to drop ten bucks on that rather than however much a useless radar gun cost. And that is just one example of what Jennifer could have done, but didn’t.
The eighth rule instructs applicants to be creative. Part of this task showed some creativity – but Jennifer was not a part of it. In fact, when Excel really needed some creative thinking in terms of how to sell to people even though their original plan had been pushed aside, Jennifer was simply not up to the task.
The previous week, when Jennifer was project manager on a task based on creativity, she was easily beaten in part because she simply didn’t understand how to apply any sort of creative thinking. In short, she failed.
Ninth is to not be one-dimensional. Honestly, I’m not sure what Jennifer showed us that would even provide a single dimension. She was supposed to be a great seller, but we didn’t see that. She thought she could give a great presentation for the Zathura float challenge, but she blew that as well. And we already discussed that she was a poor leader. I don’t think being a beauty queen counts as a dimension, so we’ll just have to say she failed here as well and move on.
Speaking of failure, the final rule says to use common sense. We’ve already discussed how Jennifer should have known she needed to stand out, but let’s just once again point out that this was simple common sense. Yet she completely failed to comprehend it. It’s like we were dealing with Toral again.
Jennifer’s main argument in the Boardroom also showed a lack of common sense. In attempting to defend herself, Jennifer claimed that she is a great salesperson when in the proper environment. Unfortunately for her, Marshawn and Rebecca did manage to sell in the very same environment. Bad argument, Jennifer.
In fact, “bad” pretty much describes Jennifer’s all-around performance. She couldn’t lead, she couldn’t follow, she couldn’t sell. What could she do? Well, she could complain, that we know. But that isn’t exactly what Donald Trump is looking for.
Jennifer needed to stand out and show she belonged there. Instead, she sat back and showed she didn’t. Josh deserved the most blame for Excel’s miserable failure, but Jennifer was right up there with him. She bragged that she could sell but then couldn’t back it up – and all she wanted to do was blame others. That is why Jennifer lost.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our other Apprentice 4 Episode 6 articles:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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