The Apprentice 4, Episode 10: Operation Sabotageby Betsy Wasser -- 11/29/2005
Felisha, Alla, and Adam are hanging out in the suite, and Felisha is singing and chair dancing to their song from the last task. It’s adorably dorky. She admits that she was really into that last task. Alla wonders who will be fired, adding that if it’s Clay, she’ll be a little sad because he makes her breakfast every day. Alla should probably be careful eating anything Clay prepares for her, given how much he seems to hate her. She adds that if Clay is fired, Rebecca and Randal are in trouble since they have no creativity whatsoever. As those two return to the suite, Felisha hums the Apprentice theme song. Again, adorable.
Rebecca and Randal immediately go to have a talk alone. Rebecca thinks Randal might have been a bit taken aback by what she said in the boardroom, and she’s right. Randal did not at all appreciate that she said he didn’t step up in the last task. If she thinks his judgment was bad, that’s one thing, but to say he didn’t work hard is another altogether. In an interview, Randal says that perception is very important, and he does not want Trump to have the perception that he’s not working hard. Rebecca apologizes, saying in an interview that it’s crucial that they get along. They agree to push each other in the next task. Randal will be project manager, saying that he wants the opportunity to redeem himself to Trump.
Trump meets the candidates for the next task, accompanied by Carolyn and special guest star Bill. Hi, Bill! Trump tells Randal that his stock went down a bit after that last boardroom, and Randal looks unhappy. Trump gives a long, roundabout connection to his yuge new Trump Bar and Shania Twain that makes so little sense I won’t bother to try to explain it. The candidates will be given 1,000 square feet of flexible vinyl wrap which they’ll use to promote the new fragrance Shania by Stetson. Trump adds that wrapping is the latest thing, and that you can wrap anything from a car to a house. The candidates will also be given a wrapped van to help promote the fragrance. Each team will have an 800 number that people can call to request free samples of the perfume. Whichever team gets the most calls wins.
Randal says that he and Rebecca will need to work smart since they are outnumbered. He immediately seizes upon the idea of hiring a bunch of people to wear a sandwich board with the ad on it. It’s an immediate, in your face tactic, and Rebecca likes it. He quickly gets on the phone, hires 60 temps, and plans with Rebecca to have their “temp army” blanket the city. Randal is enthusiastic and says, “That was big.” To Rebecca, he adds that it is “the illest,” which sounds very funny coming out of the ordinarily serious Randal. I think it’s pretty boring. They’re supposed to be using this cool new wrapping, and they wind up with one of the most traditional ideas ever.
Let’s see what the supposedly more creative people can come up with. Alla is the project manager, saying that she is the team leader and can take charge in any task. It’s arrogant, but it’s also totally true. The team quickly decides to focus their efforts on Union Square. Adam wants to wrap a horse and carriage, saying it will create “a real spectacle.” He wonders if they can wrap the horses themselves. Felisha thinks that’s crazy talk, and Adam admits that it probably is, but that it would be cool. Alla tells Adam, “You feel it, I’m going with you.” Felisha, however, does not feel it. She thinks they need people to create a real call to action. Felisha says, “People sell.” She calls some temp agencies and looks for “clean cut people” to help sell the fragrance.
Alla reviews the budget and finds that they’re over. She has Felisha order 20 temps, figuring they’ll get 15 they can use. Felisha doesn’t like that one bit, especially because her workforce is limited by the fact that Adam’s horse and carriage idea costs 60% of their budget. She tells Alla and Adam that she doesn’t want to be blamed if they lose, saying that her limited budget is making thigns very difficult for her. I think Alla is handling this task very well. She likes Adam’s big, creative idea, but she also has Felisha’s idea (just like Randal’s) as a fall-back. Both members of her team are happy, and she’s got her bases covered.
This week’s Trump Lesson of the Week is “Be a Gladiator.” Trump says that sometimes, confrontation is your only choice in business. You have to fight sometimes, and when you do, Trump advises, “Do it, and do it with gusto.” This week’s Betsy Lesson of the Week is a special holiday travel edition. If you’re flying with a baby (like I was last weekend), give him or her a pacifier or bottle during takeoff and landing. That will keep the pressure from building in their ears.
Randal and Rebecca have their sandwich boards ready and decide to get some bullhorns to make their temp army even more powerful. The problem is, it’s hard to find bullhorns, especially in large quantities. They call Radio Shack, and it turns out that someone else just reserved a whole bunch of bullhorns- none other than Capital Edge. Rebecca says in an interview that they didn’t go looking for this information, but they did happen to find it. Rebecca asks Randal if they should buy the bullhorns before the other team can pick them up, and he quickly agrees.
The two race to Radio Shack as Capital Edge heads there as well. Rebecca and Randal get there first. She goes in the store to get the bullhorns while Randal waits outside as a decoy for “operation sabotage.” The two of them buy nine out of the ten bullhorns they have in the store.
Moments later, Alla calls Radio Shack and is surprised to hear that someone already picked up the bullhorns. She asks what the people looked like, and when she hears that one of them was on crutches, there’s little doubt that Rebecca and Randal took them. Adam shrugs and says you can’t blame them. Alla says that yes you can. She’s good and mad, but then says that it doesn’t matter- when they win, it will be just that much sweeter since they didn’t play dirty. “Karma gets people,” she adds. Speaking of karma, if you aren’t watching My Name Is Earl, you should check it out. Funny stuff.
Rebecca and Randal were definitely on the unethical side for taking the bullhorns. They lied to the people at Radio Shack, saying they were coworkers of the people who ordered them. But I can’t get all that fired up about what they did. I think that if, say, K-Mart found out when Wal-Mart was breaking their price on a hot item, for example, that they’d use that information to their advantage. That’s what Randal and Rebecca did, and Capital Edge found themselves on the wrong side of luck. Maybe it should bother me more, but it just doesn’t.
The next morning finds Capital Edge getting their temps ready. They quickly discover that most of the temps don’t know who Shania Twain is. Felisha and Alla agree that they should get rid of anyone who doesn’t speak English – it’s important for this task that they can communicate with people on the street. Adam is not impressed with the people Felisha got, saying they’re little more than warm bodies. The team then puts the temps to work helping Adam cover their 10 carriages, coaches, and wagons. Adam says that the wrap works best of flat surfaces, which the carriages are not, but he’s happy with how they turn out. He probably shouldn’t be, as the camera shows us one carriage with a big hole where Shania’s face should be.
Meanwhile, Randal gives his temps a pep talk. Rebecca is happy with their group- they are “real New Yorkers” who people on the street will be able to relate to. She and Randal have a chart indicating where they’ll be sending all of the workers. They agree to send more people to Spanish Harlem. They have a lot of people who speak Spanish, so they figure that’s a natural fit. Good thinking – after all, it is New York City, where not everyone speaks English. In a stroke of good luck, one of the temps is a funny guy who is a natural with the bullhorn. Randal puts him in the wrapped van and the guy goes to town shouting down people on the street. Rebecca thinks the bullhorns were a great addition to their plan. Bill comes by and says he’s happy to see that Randal has the hunger back and the fire in his belly once more.
Capital Edge’s team arrives at Union Square, where Felisha encourages the temps to work with people one-on-one. They might not have bullhorns, Felisha says, but they worked extra hard to sell. She offers several people her cell phone to call for samples. She doesn’t think people are responding to the carriages, but thinks her people are working much better. Carolyn comes by and says hello to Alla. Alla tells her that she’s been loaning people her cell phone. Carolyn notes that Capital Edge has 15 people with posters and that the carriages are “embarrassing looking.” At the end of the day, Alla, Adam, and Felisha walk down the street arm in arm, happy with how they did.
The candidates gather in the boardroom for the results. Excel got 978 phone calls. Capital Edge had just five fewer calls. Excel wins. For their reward, Randal and Rebecca will spend the day with Shania Twain. First they’ll go horseback riding with her, then have dinner. I have to say, neither of them looks especially excited about the plan.
Randal and Rebecca congratulate each other on making the final four, then meet Shania in the park for horseback riding. Shania is wearing a ton of eyemakup and should really lay off on it a bit. Randal’s horse keeps wandering off, much to Rebecca’s amusement. Over dinner, Shania tells them that success comes from hard work. Rebecca says in an interview that really resonated with her because in this task, she and Randal pushed each other and wound up winning. She toasts Randal for leading them to victory.
Alla and Adam get ready for the boardroom together and talk about how Felisha made mistakes. The workforce, Alla says, was lower than what she wanted. She mentions 25 people, which is a bit confusing because I thought she had budget for 15. Maybe Alla is referring to her plan to have 20 or 25 people come and use just 15? I don’t know. Adam agrees, though, saying that 15 people was not enough. Felisha championed labor – why didn’t she get more people? Uh, because they didn’t have the money for it?
Here’s where things get interesting. Alla then talks to Felisha and has a completely different angle, this time about how Adam messed up. Note that the one thing these conversations have in common is that Alla herself did not make any mistakes. The woman is a master manipulator. Felisha says that they could have had more people if not for the money they blew on carriages. She thinks that if Adam doesn’t get that they couldn’t hire more people due to budget, he’s naďve.
The team arrives in the boardroom, and Trump immediately berates them for losing a street task to a team that is not only one member smaller, but also includes a person with a broken ankle. Felisha says that there was no one thing that caused them to lose. She hired the staff, and says that they never considered hiring more people. I’m surprised she’s saying that, since she was in favor of hiring more temps but didn’t have the budget to do it. Alla fills in that information, saying that Adam’s carriage idea ate up a lot of their money.
Trump thinks that the carriage idea was a bad one. Their 15 people were pretty puny compared to Excel’s 60. Carolyn adds that there was no sense of immediately and that the horses can’t speak (unless they had hired Mr. Ed, which would have been awesome). Bill weighs in with his opinion that they just didn’t think big enough – they had fewer people and more importantly, were just in one location. Carolyn adds that they were out-thought.
I think Bill is probably the most on target. The carriages couldn’t have been that dismal of a failure if Capital Edge only lost by five calls. If the carriages were useless, then they’d have lost by a much larger margin since they had so few people with signs compared to Excel. I think where Excel… um… excelled… was in their decision to canvass the city, to work in more than one neighborhood. They exposed themselves (sexy) to a wider range of people, and I think that’s what gave them the edge. I don’t buy Trump and Carolyn’s argument that they needed people. After all, the entire point of the task was to use a wrap. If all they needed were people hawking the stuff on the street, why even have wrapping as a component of the task? I think that the teams would have been more successful if they’d wrapped something big and interesting – say a stretch Hummer parked somewhere high in traffic, or maybe even a building – and had people in front of it promoting the phone number. I also suspect that Adam’s plan to wrap the carriages would have been successful in the long run if it had been executed better. If the carriages were wrapped completely (not just a poster on the side) and had a presence in a high traffic area over, say, a week or a month, I think they’d have done well.
Alla says that she told Felisha to bring at least 20 people, but only 15 showed up. She also adds that Excel stole their bullhorns. Rather than being aghast, Trump and Bill think it’s great.
Felisha says that the people were her idea, and Carolyn says it was a lot better than the carriages. Felisha thinks that the other team “got lucky,” and that’s why they won. Alla, however, thinks that lack of staff was the reason for their loss. Felisha says she tried her best to get people, but all she had was the phone book. Alla quietly says that Randal and Rebecca had the very same resources and got much better results. Carolyn thinks that if they’d had just one more person, they would have won.
Felisha says she would fire Adam – his focus was on the carriages, which were no good. Alla says she’d fire Adam because when you look at overall performance, Felisha is stronger. Trump sends Alla back to the suite- she was not the reason for their loss.
Carolyn says that she thinks that Felisha and Adam are the weakest two left. Felisha gasps, but I have to say, I agree with her. She’d fire Felisha. Bill, on the other hand, thinks Adam hasn’t stepped up yet, so he’d fire him. Adam says that he has innovative ideas and is a sponge, eager to learn. He thinks his energy and passion ar real assets. Felisha says that Adam’s inexperience is a huge issue. She thinks that overall, he handles things poorly. Trump notes that Alla’s parting words were that Adam is weaker. Felisha says Adam needs a lot more time before he can work for Trump.
Bill asks Adam how he is more qualified than Felisha. Adam says that he has very good analytical skills. Felisha thinks that hers are just as good and directs him to tell Bill what he has that she doesn’t. Adam says that he thinks they have many of the same strengths, but that his analysis is better. In the last task, Felisha was only in charge of labor and managed it poorly. He thinks she should have negotiated both more of the budget and lower prices for the labor, which Felisha says she did.
Trump says Felisha did a terrible job, but Adam blew too much of their budget on the ineffective carriages. Adam is fired. As the two leave, Bill says he wishes Adam had shown his strengths earlier. Trump thinks that together, Alla and Felisha could beat Rebecca and Randal. It’ll be the battle of the blondes against the brunettes!
In his cab ride, Adam muses that he thought he’d win it all. He says that although he’s young, he still has a lot to offer.
Next week, the final four battle it out in a big task involving Microsoft Office. See you all then!
Betsy Wasser is the Associate Editor of Reality News Online. She can be reached with any comments at betsywasser@Gmail.com.