The Apprentice 4: Why Felisha Lostby David Bloomberg -- 12/08/2005
The week before Felisha was fired, she was told flat-out that she was thought to be one of the weakest remaining. How did this affect Felisha’s behavior? Did it help her or hurt her? Why did Felisha lose?
I’ll answer the second question right now – hearing those words in the Boardroom hurt Felisha because they seemed to echo in her mind throughout the entire challenge. But what did those words cause her to do and how, specifically, did they contribute to her loss? For that information, we’ll need to look back at What ‘Apprentice 4’ and ‘Martha Stewart Apprentice’ Applicants Should Have Learned, as always.
The first and most important rule – especially now, at this late date – is to show leadership. Felisha is no dummy, she knew just how important that would be and wanted to be the project manager, especially after she was told that she was the weakest player left. The problem is that just becoming project manager doesn’t make somebody a leader. Indeed, if there was ever any doubt about the veracity of that statement, Felisha pretty much proved it to be true.
Felisha said she would lead, but that she would work together with Alla. That’s fine – certainly you want to be working together – but she needed to make it clear that she was in charge. Instead, she constantly gave Alla mixed signals. For example, Felisha wanted to act in the video clip and wanted Alla to direct. But she didn’t really want Alla to direct, she wanted Alla to assume the director’s position but let Felisha direct while also acting. I think Felisha didn’t quite understand what “directing” meant, as evidenced when she told Alla not to coach her acting. Er, okay, then what, exactly, was she supposed to do? Even the camera crew saw the problems in this, though Felisha didn’t.
This was a constant problem throughout the task. Felisha really needed to make a decision – she could lead as project manager and delegate certain tasks to Alla, or she could do them herself. She wanted to do both and meet somewhere in the middle. That simply did not work. She wound up looking wishy-washy and weak. This is particularly ironic because I believe she acted this way because she didn’t want to look weak!
But this wasn’t the first time Felisha had a problem with leadership. Even looking back just one week, we have the “wrapping” challenge. Alla was the project manager and Adam promoted his idea of wrapping the carriages. Felisha knew this was a bad way to spend their money, but she allowed herself to get run over. She should have stepped up and forced Alla to pay attention to her, pointing out that people can sell better than horses. But she didn’t. They lost and Adam was fired for promoting the idea, but it was probably pretty close.
The second rule says that Felisha should have stayed cool under fire. She didn’t. She became flustered during the Microsoft challenge, torn between trying to do well and trying to keep in control. Worse, she cried in the Boardroom, showing Donald Trump that she is just not tough enough for New York (if this had been Martha Stewart’s version, she likely would have gotten a lecture about how businesswomen don’t cry).
The third rule brings us back to a few things we’ve already discussed, but which deserve mentioning again. Felisha needed to show that she had a backbone. She needed to stand up to Alla and Adam in the wrapping task. She needed to stand up to Alla in the Microsoft challenge. Most importantly, she needed to push back on Alla in the Boardroom and not allow Alla to steamroll her.
Fourth is the recommendation that scheming and plotting usually doesn’t work, but Felisha didn’t have anybody to plot with and didn’t seem likely to have tried anyway. So we get to the fifth rule, which says to play well with others, but stay professional. Felisha appeared to be a nice person, and indeed was friends with Alla. But she failed to realize just how cutthroat Alla could become and held back in the Boardroom. She might not have really had it in her to go after Alla the way Alla was going after her, and it probably wouldn’t have mattered anyway, but she needed to show some Boardroom spirit, and instead she tried to be as nice as possible.
At this point in the competition, the sixth rule starts to look a little different. It says to focus on the long-term, but in the endgame, the long-term takes on a new meaning. Felisha knew she had to focus on staying out of the Boardroom, because she had a feeling she would be fired if her team lost. Unfortunately for her, her focus on winning led to a loss of focus on the task, which actually led to their loss!
The main reason for that loss stemmed from a basic lack of understanding of the task by both Felisha and Alla. They started off well, with the intention of telling a story. But when they found they had two and a half times as much footage as they had time, they had to make some quick changes that completely lost the point they had been trying to make. Text and voiceovers are not compelling. Flashing things as fast as they did on the screen is simply bad. The whole point of the ad was to try to convince people to buy the product. But if I had seen that ad on TV, I would have changed the channel. Yes, Felisha assigned Alla the task of editing, but she did buy off on the finished product. Besides, with only two people on the team – especially when she was the project manager – she should have stepped up and said, “This is terrible.”
Having just discussed how bad the ad was, it emphasizes the point that Felisha was not creative enough. She handed over control of the editing to Alla, which seemed to admit that Alla was better in that area than she was. And the finished product certainly did not speak to high creativity from either of them! But at least Alla tried.
The ninth rule says players cannot be one-dimensional. Felisha would not have made it as far as she did if she only had one thing going for her, but that doesn’t mean she was the best in multiple areas. We’ve already hit on the fact that she was not a great leader and was not creative enough. I would add that she was not really an idea person either, at least if we consider her actions in her final two challenges. Overall, she simply didn’t have the multiple talents that Trump wants.
Finally, we get to the rule that says candidates should use common sense. Many of the things we’ve already discussed fall into this category as well, but the main part of common sense should have come when she saw the finished video. Right then and there, she should have said, “This sucks!” But she didn’t.
Similarly, she should have known that being the project manager meant being the leader – Carolyn certainly noticed it, and mentioned in the Boardroom that Felisha was not really a leader. But once again, Felisha didn’t seem to understand that.
Bill summed up that Felisha was fired because she couldn’t lead (while Alla was fired because she couldn’t be led). She simply would not stick up for herself enough, and failed to stay calm under pressure. All of these things correctly led Trump to conclude that Felisha was not a good enough leader to work for him. That is why Felisha lost.
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David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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