The Apprentice 4: Why Rebecca Lostby David Bloomberg -- 12/16/2005
On some levels, it seemed almost too close to call – certainly the closest final two of any Apprentice so far. But at the same time, almost everybody seemed to believe Randal would win. Why did it appear to be a foregone conclusion even at the same time it was close? Why did Rebecca lose?
Each of the final two candidates had a lot of things going for them, but Trump had to pick one (well, there was one other option, but we’ll get to that later). How did he choose Randal? Let’s look back at What ‘Apprentice 4’ and ‘Martha Stewart Apprentice’ Applicants Should Have Learned to find out where Rebecca wasn’t able to catch Randal.
The first rule, and always the most important, is to show leadership. Rebecca seemed to be a good leader, but not everybody agreed with that. Alla sure as heck didn’t, and she wasn’t shy about sharing that tidbit with us during the finale! (OK, so I don’t think there is anything Alla is shy about.) But Rebecca motivated her team during the final task and she put together a good event.
However, every time Randal’s name was mentioned, it seemed to be followed by a discussion of what a great leader he is. Trump called him an “amazing leader” who led “through niceness and example.” That’s hard to beat.
It also didn’t help Rebecca that her record as project manager was 1-2, while Randal’s was 3-0. Comparing a losing record to a perfect one is a difficult hill to climb.
Speaking of leadership, before we get to the second rule I’d like to note that the way both Apprentice series let the final two pick their own teams at the end is much better than having some goofballs forced on them. We truly got to see how they led and how they worked with competent people under them.
Getting back to Rebecca, she excelled at the second rule, staying cool under pressure. Just as we repeatedly heard what a great leader Randal is, we also heard how awesome Rebecca was at handling stress. Chris said he never saw her look stressed. Carolyn felt she handled the event very well through all the difficulties.
Rebecca was not fazed by anything that happened, it seemed. Very early in the show, she broke her ankle, yet she refused to give up or even slow down. Not once do I recall seeing her worrying about how her injury would hinder her. Trump seemed to be incredibly impressed by this, perhaps more than anything else.
In her final task, when Joe Piscopo cancelled, things could have gone quickly into the toilet. But Rebecca just shrugged it off and moved forward. Overall, Trump said there was “nobody better” at handling pressure.
Rebecca also did well as far as the third rule, having a backbone – at least until the final challenge. She stood up for her own ideas, which was recognized by Trump. However, in the final challenge it seems Trump & Co. believe she should have stood up a bit more, specifically to Yahoo.
Yahoo had instructed the team that this was a VIP party and they didn’t want their guests hit up with a request to donate to charity. Rebecca went along with this and was criticized at the end. I’m not convinced this was a completely legitimate criticism since we’ve heard for four years that you need to listen to your client. Trump believed the charity was the client, but the charity never said, “Hey, why aren’t you collecting money for us,” or got as involved as the woman from the charity in Randal’s event did.
So in Trump’s eyes, Rebecca should have stood up to the Yahoo execs, told them they were wrong, and insisted upon a more direct approach to fundraising. I do think she could have tried to convince them a bit better than we saw, but I don’t think she should have simply overrode what they told her.
The fourth rule, warning that scheming and plotting doesn’t work, had no bearing on Rebecca, especially at this stage. So let’s move on.
The fifth rule says to play well with others, but stay professional. Early in the show, I would not have predicted Rebecca would make it anywhere near this far, because she had issues with some of her teammates. Well, to be more specific, some of them had issues with her. I don’t really think most of those issues were Rebecca’s fault, and indeed some of those in the little clique turned on each other, which tends to support my position that they were the ones to blame.
Rebecca was also incredibly loyal, especially to Toral. This both impressed and, I think, somewhat confused Trump. He sure didn’t see anything in Toral that made her worth such loyalty. If Toral had screwed up in the final task, we can be sure Trump would have pointed it out and used it as a reason not to hire Rebecca. But it ended up working in her favor. We all know how much Trump values loyalty, as he told Newsweek a couple years ago, “You must work well with others and be loyal to your team. Disloyalty is the worst of all traits.”
The sixth rule tells players to focus on the long-term. Since this was the final task, it didn’t apply so much. However, the seventh rule – understanding the challenge – did. As already mentioned above, Trump & Co. didn’t seem to think Rebecca fully understood the challenge. She did everything to impress the Yahoo execs, but the charity was relegated to the back seat. She had one banner for the charity compared to what seemed to be dozens for Yahoo, plus the whole party being Yahoo-themed. She could have found room for more charity information, logos, etc. Sure, she had the spokesman for the charity speak, but again, it was just that once and not woven into the very fabric of the event like Randal did with his.
I have to wonder if the point of the task was ever fully explained, though. Who was running the show? It seemed to be Yahoo. This was not just a general charity event like Randal’s was. This was specifically an event tailored to impress Yahoo’s VIPs and clients. I can certainly understand that they didn’t want them hit up at the party. If it was supposed to be a general charity event, then obviously the Yahoo execs didn’t know that either, so I can’t fault Rebecca too much! Plus, we have no idea how much money actually was raised because we were not informed how many people sent back donations in the envelopes provided.
The eighth rule tells applicants to be creative, but not insane. Rebecca showed a great amount of creativity in theming the whole party towards Yahoo. Purple and white everywhere, Yahootinis, glowing purple ice cubes – you name it, she had it. As George said, she didn’t miss a trick.
Ninth is to not be one-dimensional. I think Rebecca proved to everybody that she has many, many talents. She can lead, she can be creative, she did whatever it took to move forward throughout the series and in the final task.
Finally we have the rule that says to use common sense. Some might say it should have been common sense to raise money at a charity event. As I’ve already described, I cannot agree with that. I think Rebecca made good use of common sense throughout the competition.
It seems I’ve said almost entirely good things about Rebecca – but she still lost. How can that be? We’ll go over more in “Why Randal Won,” but there are several reasons.
First, no matter what I think, Trump believed Rebecca muffed the whole point of the final task. He didn’t seem to hold it against her too much, but he definitely brought it up a few times. Second, while she does seem to be a good leader, Randal seems to be a great leader. Her 1-2 record could not compare to his 3-0 record. The comments of other applicants on the show overwhelmingly favored Randal as a leader in favor of Rebecca.
While I would argue that Rebecca is more creative than Randal and handled stress a bit better from what we saw, there is a reason that “Show Leadership” is the first rule. If Rebecca had not been matched up against Randal, I think she would have won. If she had been in season three, for example, I think Rebecca would have easily taken the Apprenticeship. But Rebecca’s leadership skills could not hold up to Randal’s. That is why Rebecca lost.
Normally, the “Lost” columns end with the above sentence. However, Rebecca had another chance to pull a pseudo-win out of this one. Donald Trump asked Randal if he thought Rebecca should be hired also. As we all know, Randal said no, there should only be one Apprentice. It’s hard to say exactly why he said it, though some have already surmised it was pure ego while others believe he simply was pointing out that in a game like The Apprentice, there should be only one winner. At this point, we don’t have enough information to explain fully why Rebecca lost the second chance.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out our Apprentice 4 Finale recap:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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