The Apprentice 4: Why Alla Lostby David Bloomberg -- 12/08/2005
Things were looking good for Alla. She did so well over the long haul that many viewers were predicting her to be in the final two. But then something happened – Alla was fired! What changed so quickly and drastically? Why did Alla lose?
While few people would have predicted Alla’s firing coming into the Microsoft challenge, it was not a huge surprise when all was said and done. To find out why, let’s look back at What ‘Apprentice 4’ and ‘Martha Stewart Apprentice’ Applicants Should Have Learned to see where she went astray.
When it came to the first rule, Alla did a good job. She had a passion for leading, whether as the project manager or not. Sometimes, this worked to her (and her team’s) benefit, such as when Clay would have likely led the group to failure on the Star Wars task and Alla stepped up to essentially take control. Other times, though, it became a problem. Such was the case in the Microsoft challenge – her final task.
Alla was not the project manager – Felisha was. But Alla still wanted to assume control. Part of the reason was that Felisha was not really taking command. When there was a leadership void (as with Clay, as I mentioned above), Alla was always ready and willing to fill it. But part of the problem was also perception. That is to say, Felisha seemed to think that Alla wanted control, and therefore acted in a manner that gave Alla a bit of control but never too much. Frankly, it was poor leadership on Felisha’s part, but we already discussed that. In summary, I think we can say that Alla was a good leader.
What about the second rule, which tells applicants to stay cool under fire? Frankly, I think she did well here also. I don’t know that we ever saw Alla get flustered. Then again, considering what Alla has been through in life, I guess we shouldn’t find this surprising.
Similarly, Alla never had a problem with the third rule, having a backbone. When she had an idea, she didn’t hold back from telling people exactly what it was and pushing to have it done. Since she had many good ideas, this usually worked to her advantage. But when she met with resistance, she had a tendency to handle it like a steamroller handles a small bump in the road – just keep on going and smash it down. There is such a thing as too much backbone.
It might surprise readers to know that I believe Alla failed at the fourth rule, which says scheming and plotting usually don’t work. “Who did she plot with?” I hear you ask. Good question! The answer is: Herself. OK, it’s not the most common way to violate the rule, but she did it. Alla planned exactly how she would act in the Boardroom. She fully expected Felisha to be weak and practically give up. As she told viewers before heading in, she planned that if Felisha put up a fight, “I’ll destroy her.” Yikes.
But Alla didn’t need to act that way. She could have just gone in and let Felisha self-destruct. Instead, Alla took the offensive. While Trump has favored people really getting into it in the Boardroom, even he couldn’t sit by and watch while Alla laid into her so-called friend, Felisha. It was that painful.
This leads us to the fifth rule, which says to play well with others. Along the way, Alla has made a few enemies – but they were generally people who weren’t staying around anyway. Think Clay. She had become friends with Felisha, but that wasn’t going to stop Alla from doing whatever she thought needed to be done to get Felisha fired. If that meant turning her into a quivering puddle of goo, that’s what Alla was going to do.
Normally, this rule refers to how applicants act around their fellows. In this case, though, it directly impacted on how Trump & Co. saw her. As the rule says, “Trump … [doesn’t] need somebody who will cause tension and problems in the ranks. … If you can’t get along with people, that’s a big strike against you.” It certainly was against Alla when it came out in the Boardroom.
That is also where Alla lost track of the sixth rule, focusing on the long-term. She had done so well throughout the game, but then she blew it. I hate to repeat myself, but Alla should have simply let Felisha self-destruct. She knew it was happening. Perhaps she could have given Felisha a gentle nudge out the door. Instead, she attacked like a cornered hyena. This might have seemed like the best thing to do in order to get rid of Felisha, but Alla lost site of the big picture – getting a job with Trump.
Of course, Alla wouldn’t have even been in that situation if the team had won the challenge. But neither Felisha nor Alla really understood what they needed to do. Or, I should say, they understood it but then forgot it when things didn’t go their way. When they found they had two and a half times as much footage as they had time, they had to make some quick changes. In doing so, they – led by Alla, who claimed this particular brainstorm – completely lost the point they had been trying to make. Text and voiceovers are dull. Flashing that text as fast as they did on the screen is not just dull, but confusing. Alla thought it was a great idea, but perhaps she was slap-happy from lack of sleep (or maybe she was dipping into the beers Ryan had so much fun with on this week’s The Apprentice: Martha Stewart).
Felisha handed over the editing task to Alla in part because she apparently felt Alla was more creative. I believe this to be true, but Alla sure didn’t show it in her final challenge and thus had problems with the eighth rule. As recapper Betsy said, “There’s a lot of text and too much information, all of it moving too fast.” Not creative, just bad.
Alla did well in the ninth rule, which says contestants can’t be one-dimensional. As one RNO reader said in an e-mail in after Alla was fired, “She was smart, decisive, creative, managed people well, and performed well on many different types of tasks.” I have to agree, which is why so many viewers expected her to be in the finals.
But Alla lacked a certain amount of common sense – the part that says you need to stop beating a dead horse. She knew Felisha was beaten, but she couldn’t just let her dig her own grave. It would have been one thing to grab a shovel and help scoop out a little dirt. Alla, however, had to go rent the backhoe and push Felisha out of the way to make sure that sucker got dug. Considering that Felisha was already complaining that Alla was difficult to work with, it simply was not smart to show exactly that type of behavior in the Boardroom.
Alla had a lot going for her, and it would have been easy for Trump to let her slide based on her record. But they are so close to the end, there is no more time to make up for mistakes. Alla made several. She directed and edited the final ad, which was horrible. To make matters worse, she went into full attack mode against Felisha when it was wholly unnecessary. She was a good leader but not such a great follower. She screwed up during this project, but then made it much worse by screwing up in the Boardroom. That is why Alla lost.
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David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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