The Apprentice 4: Why Adam Lostby David Bloomberg -- 12/01/2005
If history is any guide – and it always is in this column – Adam didn’t stand much of a chance on The Apprentice. He is young and has little experience; if he didn’t go this past week, he would have been gone after the interviews. It’s not really fair, but we haven’t seen anything to indicate that a person without much experience truly has a chance to win. Certainly they would need to show better skills than Adam did – which brings us back to our topic of the hour. Why didn’t Adam show those skills? And why did Adam lose?
Adam did make it far, so he must have been doing something right. But he didn’t make it far enough, which shows he was doing more wrong. If we (mostly) ignore his inexperience, how can we figure out what his problems were? Well, by looking back at What ‘Apprentice 4’ and ‘Martha Stewart Apprentice’ Applicants Should Have Learned, of course!
The first rule is to show leadership. Adam’s recent stint as project manager on the Learning Annex challenge was less than inspiring. Perhaps the only reason he got out of that one alive was because Markus was still around – and did nothing. While Adam tried to deal with Markus as a manager talking to his employee, his lack of experience was obvious in the way he handled it – acting like Markus was a bad child in a classroom and pulling him out in front of the others. OK, I’ll grant that Markus was acting like a spoiled brat, but that doesn’t mean he should have been handled that way. Still, there probably isn’t a really good way to handle Markus – other than firing him – so I won’t hold that against Adam too much.
But Adam allowed his team in that task to push him into doing a topic that he was clearly uncomfortable with. That discomfort combined with a lack of preparation and other factors to cause them the loss.
In the most recent task, Adam did step up even though he wasn’t the project manager. He took charge of the major portion of their money and planned to wrap horses and carriages. Luckily, the horses themselves were not wrapped, but unfortunately, he used a lot of money without much to show for it.
Throughout his time in the game, Adam has generally followed the second rule of staying cool under fire. Once he overcame his discomfort at the sexual topic of the task he led, he managed to do his portion fine. In the Boardroom, later, he made his point about Clay without getting too upset.
In this particular challenge, Adam didn’t appear particularly stressed. However, when he was pressed by Trump & Co. in the Boardroom to explain why he should stay and Felisha should go, he did not do a good job at all of explaining himself – something I attribute in part to the rising pressure in that situation. His attempted defense of saying he has good analytical skills and the like fell flat because his statements could have applied to many of the candidates. He needed to come up with a good defense under pressure, but he failed.
Adam did try to stand up for himself, though, so he generally did alright in terms of the third rule. In the Boardroom, he defended his actions – both in the most recent task and in others. During the most recent challenge, he believed the carriages would work well and pushed that idea. One time he really failed in this, however, was when he was project manager and allowed his team to talk him into the sex topic. He should have been firm in his “no.”
Adam also fell prey to the idea that he could plot his way out of admitting to his mistakes in his final challenge, forgetting that the fourth rule says such activities usually don’t work. He talked to Alla about how Felisha made mistakes, not realizing that Alla was having the same discussion about him with Felisha! While some might be tempted to suggest that Alla proved the exception to this rule, I don’t think she had any chance of going home even if she hadn’t been involved. But Adam relied on her support and instead revealed his plans, which were turned against him in the Boardroom.
Adam did fine with the fifth rule, which says to play well with others. I think the only person he really had a problem with was Clay, and even then he tried to be fair by telling Trump that he didn’t think Clay was anti-Semitic.
It’s hard to say how Adam did in terms of the sixth rule, thinking for the long-term. Bill Rancic thought Adam didn’t step up early enough, and I suspect this relates back to Adam’s age and inexperience (yeah, I said I mostly wouldn’t get into that). Adam started the interview process at a disadvantage and truly needed to come out firing from the very beginning to prove he deserved to be there. He didn’t, and that eventually came back to bite him.
The seventh rule says applicants need to understand the challenges. In this task, the challenge was not so much to see what they could wrap, but who could make the best use of their resources. To my mind, the wrapping was almost a decoy, which is why Adam’s team lost. Yes, they only missed it by a few people, but I believe that close margin was achieved because the players themselves were more involved – such as Felisha dialing for people and letting them borrow her phone. I doubt many people called after seeing a wrinkled and torn poster wrap on a carriage. If Adam had realized – as Felisha did – that “people sell,” his team likely would have won and he would have been in the final four.
Which leads us directly to the eighth rule, telling contestants to be creative but not insane. Wrapping horses? Insane. They didn’t do it, but not for lack of Adam wanting to. Wrapping carriages must have seemed creative, but this was actually not the task for that kind of creativity. Instead, they needed the kind that Randal and Rebecca showed – putting the best talker into a wrapped van with a megaphone, sending the Spanish-speaking temps to Spanish-speaking areas, etc.
Ninth is to not be one-dimensional. Adam definitely had exuberance, he may have had the analytical skills he claimed (though he didn’t show that in this task). But Trump is looking for somebody who can lead and figure out the best solutions, and Adam did not show that he could do that.
The final rule tells contestants to use common sense. Adam did better than many over the course of the show in that regard. However, I’m not quite sure how he could walk away from the carriage-wrapping thinking they looked good. They were wrinkled, ripped, and overall just plain ugly. At that point, there wasn’t a whole lot he could do about it, so maybe he was just trying to have a positive attitude. But the whole wrapping of carriages rather than paying for people defies common sense to a certain extent. We’ve already gone into that, though.
Adam came into The Apprentice with one strike against him already – his youth and inexperience. He could have overcome it, but he would have needed to start showing his skills and abilities right off the bat. I have little doubt that Adam will succeed in business, but he does need a bit of experience – as shown by the way he tried to deal with Markus.
But in the end, that’s not why Adam lost. Adam had a big idea that flopped. What’s worse is that Felisha knew it would flop before they began, and that was who he faced in the final Boardroom. Neither of them did great in this task, but Felisha had built up more of a positive image, and Adam truly was more responsible for the loss here. That is why Adam lost.
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David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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