The Apprentice 4 Weekly Performance Review, Episode 10by Brian Towers -- 11/28/2005
This series of articles primarily focuses on the business actions of each player on The Apprentice. Toward that end, I’ll be giving a capsulated performance review of each applicant.
Let me say right off the top that with the eliminations of the last few weeks, I expected to see good business activities performed in a positive and supportive environment. For the most part I was not disappointed. Well done, all!
Excel: Excel played dirty this week, misrepresenting themselves to “steal” the other teams bullhorns. Rebecca first verbalized the idea, but Randal agreed in an instant. Bill, Carolyn, and The Donald all seemed to think it was a wonderful thing, but I do not. It’s not ethical. Remember, they bought all the bullhorns, more than they intended to get when they first started bullhorn shopping.
I don’t think this event does much for Radio Shack’s reputation, either – when I request an item be put on hold for me, I expect it to be there.
It’s time for some quick arithmetic here. Excel had 62 people, counting themselves, and Randal said they worked for eight hours. So, if each person only generated a single call every half hour, that would still be 992 calls. Excel’s final tally was only 978 calls – not very efficient work!
Randal: Recognizing that they had a manpower disadvantage, Randal knew they needed to, as he said, “work smart” this week. They did.
He also knew that Rebecca landed some body blows in the last Boardroom, and he needed to show he could step it up and be excellent again. When Trump commented in front of all that he had a rough Boardroom, Randal did not agree but didn’t argue, either. Mind you, that could be editing, we’ll never know.
Randal had the smart idea to hire a large number of temporary helpers. They seemed to get lucky with the agency that supplied their workers, as they seemed to get a more presentable and functional gang. Even though the numbers above indicate some of them were not very productive, they won by such a small margin that hiring any fewer workers may have cost them the challenge.
Once the megaphones had been procured, Randal put them to good use by adding an increased vocal aspect to their visual message.
Luckily for Randal, one of the traits he will NOT be judged on is horseback riding, so he earns a VERY GOOD rating this week. I can’t go higher because of the bullhorn thing.
One further note – next week’s Microsoft task seems like a slam-dunk for Randal!
Rebecca: When Rebecca said she understood “wrapping” when the task was assigned, I really think she thought Trump meant music. But that’s not significant.
Right off the top of the show, she apologized to Randal for possibly misrepresenting his effort level in the Boardroom. Why not? The damage was done, and she needs Randal being helpful if she’s going to make it to the final three.
Rebecca used a map of NYC to allocate their resources, and they tried to blanket the city. It’s a good idea, and sending those with poor English skills into ethnic neighborhoods was a good idea. However, some of those sixty workers had to be unsupervised all day. Since the margin of victory was so slight, it suggests to me that many of their 45 extra workers were actually not very productive.
Rebecca’s ranking is also VERY GOOD.
Capital Edge Capital Edge made two key errors – they overspent on the carriages and they let their bullhorns get swiped. And why were all three people required to take a cab to pick up those bullhorns? If they’d sent one person over to pick them up earlier while the others continued developing marketing material, they’d never have gotten burned.
Although both teams worked hard, Capital Edge seemed to be working hardest and most effectively during the execution of their plan.
I wonder if Capital Edge got blinders on after Trump stressed wrapping so strongly when the task was assigned. At that point, who could know that the most effective wrapping would turn out to be boring old “sandwich boards?”
Capital Edge’s arithmetic is as follows – with 15 temps and the three of them, they generated about 7.5 calls per hour, a much better return. However, the way the show was edited, didn’t you get the feeling they were getting calls at a much higher rate?
Alla: As project manager, Alla did some good things this week. She provided an environment where her team was happy, hard working, and productive, and they communicated well.
That being said, I am a little surprised The Donald didn’t hold Alla more accountable for this week’s loss. She approved the budget that spent most of their money unproductively.
Alla seemed very comfortable cutting their staff back to 15 people at the time she did it. However, in the Boardroom she said she had insisted on twenty. Either may have actually been a more manageable size when used properly, but Felisha sure took all the heat for the manpower situation from Mr. Trump, and it was actually Alla’s decision that led to the perceived manpower shortcoming.
As the Boardroom started and Felisha failed to blame Adam for his expensive carriages, Alla brought it up. This was a good move, as her role in that decision never came out.
Alla performed the way I like players to perform in the Boardroom. She was tough and communicated her points firmly and professionally. There was no reason to yell or get emotional, and she didn’t.
Alla is the undisputed leader of Capital Edge. I still think Trump let her off easy, but I’ll assign her a rating of SATISFACTORY.
Felisha: Felisha pushed for people over carriages, but lost that battle. Too bad, it probably made all the difference in the world. However, she entered “don’t blame me if we fail” mode, and that’s never the way to go.
Felisha was terrible in the Boardroom. Her very first statements should have been about Adam squandering the budget and Alla letting him. Instead, when Trump asked her why they didn’t hire more people, she meekly responded, “It just wasn’t something we considered, sir.” At the end of the Boardroom, Trump was still blaming Felisha for the perceived labor shortage because she never successfully got her explanation across.
At one point when they were ganging up on her in the Boardroom, Felisha said her responsibilities were more than just labor. However, she never elucidated what those other duties were.
The weekly lesson was to “be a gladiator.” Felisha didn’t fight very well, but her opponent was a relative rookie and she got away with it, for now. Felisha earns the NEEDS IMPROVEMENT rating this week. In the Boardroom Carolyn identified Felisha as a weak player. Her time left in the game has to be coming to an end real soon.
Adam: Adam did a good job this week, but the idea of the carriages should have been re-examined when the large cost was identified. Also, many of those wrappers really looked tacky when they were applied, and on one, the phone number was unreadable. I seriously doubt they generated many calls.
I’m glad his plans to put Shania’s face on the horses didn’t pan out. Disturbing image, you know… that one had me worried a little!
Adam wasn’t great in the Boardroom either. He could only summarize himself subjectively. All eighteen applicants are “curious” and “passionate” with “strong analytical skills,” so saying those things bought him nothing with Trump. What Adam should have mentioned was that although he never won as project manager, he’s been on the winning team six out of the first nine times, while Felisha has been on the losing side by, coincidently, the same count.
Adam criticized Felisha for not getting the labor at lower cost. However, we never saw him negotiating a lower fee for his carriages, either.
Adam’s biggest shortcoming was his youth and inexperience, something Trump knew all about before the show started. It was not possible to overcome this factor. Every season there seems to be a firing like this around this stage of the game – someone is found to be under-educated, too young, or affected by some other obvious factor.
After considering all these factors, I also assign him a rating of NEEDS IMPROVEMENT.
Well, those are the performance reviews for this week. No one was unacceptable. I’ll be back next week with a new review of our remaining candidates’ antics.
Last words: I don’t have much else to say this week. What do you think? Let me know at the eAddress below.
Brian lives in Toronto where he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He spent a couple of decades working in middle management at The Prudential, primarily hiding behind the coffee machine to avoid his pointy-haired bosses. He’d like to hear your opinions and promises to respond to all serious email!
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