The Apprentice 4: Why Brian Lostby David Bloomberg -- 11/17/2005
Brian should have been the master of the Star Wars task, but instead he found himself the failed Padawan learner. Why did he fall prey to the Dark Side? Why did Brian lose?
Even when looking at a challenge involving events that took place a long time ago in a galaxy far away, we still look back at What ‘Apprentice 4’ and ‘Martha Stewart Apprentice’ Applicants Should Have Learned. As we’re going through to compare Brian’s actions with what he should have done, at least Brian can take solace in knowing that failed apprentices in the Star Wars universe often met their ends due to a light saber. At least Brian will live to tell the tale.
The first rule says that candidates should show leadership. Brian did step up as the project manager for this task, but he was handicapped by a serious lack of Star Wars knowledge. (Yes, it is a handicap. We will be putting a telethon on soon for the Star Wars impaired. Please give generously. Only you can put an end to this terrible disease.)
But believe it or not, lack of Star Wars knowledge could have been overcome. For example, meeting with the Best Buy and Lucasfilm executives would have given Brian and his team the knowledge they needed. But Brian made an incredibly stupid decision to wait until the last minute before grabbing a cab to get to the meeting. Sure, he could blame bad traffic, but it’s New York, fercryingoutloud! That’s like blaming the snow in Antarctica, or the heat in the Sahara. I live in a town of only about 100,000 people, and I wouldn’t give myself only 15 minutes to get to an important meeting!
While Brian was smart to go with Randal as his best Star Wars asset due to the missed meeting, it is possible to be a fan and not quite understand the marketing. That is what happened here. We can’t really blame Randal because he did the best he could under the circumstances, and he certainly knew more about the movies than anybody else on the team. Brian blew their best opportunity.
Even after that mistake, Brian followed the second rule and stayed cool under fire. He realized he blew it and shifted to his next best option. No point in crying over spilt jawa juice.
Brian also tried to stay calm in the Boardroom, but I think he made at least one very serious mistake there. When Trump & Co. were criticizing Marshawn for not doing the presentation, Brian jumped in to say he is a terrible presenter. I understand why he said it, but why in the galaxy would a person admit to being terrible at anything in the middle of a job interview?! I think Trump might occasionally need his apprentice to make presentations. Bad, bad idea.
The third rule says applicants should have a backbone. This one was tough to apply here, because Brian pretty much gave all the important decisions to Randal. He did at least stick by Randal when Marshawn had the idiotic idea to feature unknown characters in the display, so that was good.
And the fourth rule really doesn’t apply at all, as there was no scheming or plotting that we saw. Besides, Brian’s best bet was to target Marshawn, and while Marshawn was fired, obviously so was Brian.
Continuing in the “not applicable” trend, the fifth rule – playing well with others – had no impact here either.
But the sixth, focusing on the long-term, did. Look back a few paragraphs and you’ll see one big hit for this one, the admission of not being a good presenter. It might have seemed like a good idea to say at the time, but it really wasn’t.
The other main problem with long-term thinking was that Brian showed Trump he has the capability to make really stupid decisions when it’s important. Trump has fired people for this before (think back to Bradford from Apprentice 2, who made the dumb decision to waive his own exemption, for one example). It may seem a bit harsh, but a mistake like that could cost huge amounts of money in the right situation. It certainly cost Brian’s team a lot here.
Part of that cost came because they never were really able to follow the seventh rule, understanding the challenge. Oh sure, they knew they had to design the Star Wars sales area, but they didn’t understand what they should have been shooting for. And even in the part they did supposedly understand, they blew it – for example, not having the products front and center. That one didn’t depend on any Star Wars knowledge, just on marketing and general common sense (whoops, we’re skipping ahead).
During the show, Randal specifically noted that he thought the other team was more creative. He was right. Thus, we must give Brian a failing grade in the eighth rule. Once again, whether they knew about the Star Wars universe or not, Carolyn found their sales area boring. They wore generic Best Buy shirts while the other team dressed up in Star Wars costumes. They used the standard “light vs. dark” idea rather than exploring something a little less cliché.
The ninth rule notes that candidates should not be one-dimensional and that Trump needs people who can lead, be creative, and be versatile. Brian did not show any of these characteristics in this task.
Finally, we arrive at the rule telling applicants to use common sense. We’ve already hit on the three most important points, but let’s mention them again:
You don’t need the wisdom of a Jedi to know these three things, but Brian blew it on all of them.
Brian made dumb mistake after dumb mistake in this particular challenge. It almost seemed as if somebody had used Jedi powers on his weak mind. I can see it now, Clay snuck in and waved his finger while saying, “You will wait until only 15 minutes before your meeting before looking for a cab.” Later, “You will create a sales display that does not actually feature the product well.” Finally, “You will admit to your own inadequacies in front of Donald Trump.” Clay does have a kind of dark side Jedi thing going on – thinking only of himself, for example – so maybe that explains it. Obviously, the Force was not with Brian. That is why Brian lost.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our other Apprentice 4 Episode 8 articles:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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