The Apprentice 5: Why Bryce Lostby David Bloomberg -- 04/04/2006
For two weeks in a row, there is more to talk about in this article than simply the mechanics of a fired contestant following or not following proper game play. While I do agree that Bryce was the right person to be fired, I don’t necessarily agree with the reasons. How do mine differ from Trump’s? Why did Bryce lose?
We’ll find the answer to the latter question by looking back at What ‘Apprentice 5’ Applicants Should Have Learned. The former question will also be answered along the way, but more through opinion.
The first rule, of course, is to show leadership. Bryce may have been the best leader Gold Rush has had to date. Somehow he got the bickering to end. He had everybody working together towards a common goal. There was no fighting or eye-rolling or sarcasm – until Bryce gave it to Trump in the Boardroom, but that’s another story.
Bryce recognized that he was not the best jingle-writer in the world. As such, he delegated tasks properly and then stood by his people. It seems to me that this is the type of behavior that should be encouraged in a manager rather than discouraged by firing. But there is the real world and then there is the reality TV world.
The second rule says to stay cool under fire. Not only did Bryce stay cool, but, as mentioned above, he managed to keep everybody else cool too! That was during the task, of course. Once he got into the Boardroom, Bryce continued to keep his cool, even as he was arguing with Trump. Yes, he got a bit sarcastic, but frankly, I think Trump deserved it (and more). The fact is that he could have gotten upset or tried to push blame elsewhere, but he didn’t. He stayed true to himself and didn’t allow himself to fall apart, even when it became obvious that he would be fired.
Bryce also showed that he could follow the third rule, having a backbone. The first example of this that we saw in this episode was when he called together the team after their previous Boardroom and tried to get them all to air their grievances. He knew they could not win while fighting each other (okay, so as it turned out they couldn’t win even working together, but that’s not the point here), so he stood up and did something about it.
The better example of showing a backbone was the way he stood up to Trump. Was it a smart game move? No. Was it a way to ensure he would be heading back to the suite? No. But was it the morally right thing to do? Yes. Like Dan last week, Bryce did what was right instead of what would advance him in the game. Even Trump noted that Bryce has potential. Hopefully, somebody out there watching will recognize it and offer him a better job than working for Trump – a job where he can be rewarded instead of punished for the management qualities he showed. But that overreaches our boundaries here, so let’s pull back.
The fourth rule says that scheming and plotting usually doesn’t work. Whether Bryce recognized it or not, it simply wasn’t an issue. They all felt like they had succeeded even though they lost. Nobody was out to get anybody else. No knives were being plunged into backs. It was all a bit odd, frankly.
Bryce did exceedingly well with the fifth rule, playing well with others. There were no big fights or blowups during this task – Bryce’s ability to get along with his teammates seemed to be extended in a large bubble to encompass everybody.
It’s more difficult to examine how Bryce did in terms of the sixth rule. It says to focus on the long-term rather than just on winning the task. On the one hand, Bryce did this well; on the other hand, not so much.
He didn’t do it well because he took the blame on himself and thus was fired. In other words, there is no long-term for Bryce in the game. But on the other hand, if we look at the extremely long-term, including what happens after the game is over, Bryce did perfectly well. Others will see his ethical behavior and hopefully reward him for it.
Bryce’s main problem can be found in the seventh rule, understanding the challenge. First, he was late to the meeting with Arby’s executives. His claim that he didn’t know the time of the meeting was ridiculous, because we saw Charmaine tell him. Then, he didn’t really do a very good job of mending fences with the execs even after that.
This was a problem because these very execs would make the decision as to who won and who lost. In this case, I don’t think it mattered – Synergy really was the clear winner – but in a closer battle, it could have made the difference. Actually, in one way it did make the difference, because we did not see them ask the right questions to obtain the answer that Synergy got – the main point was that customers could not get this product anywhere else besides Arby’s. That point was not carried over in the jingle, perhaps because the team didn’t even know. And whatever anybody might have thought about the music or the lyrics, the execs were clear in explaining that Synergy’s jingle had this reference while Gold Rush’s did not.
Bryce knew that the eighth rule was a problem – it tells contestants to be creative. While one would presume jingle-writing won’t be a big part of the eventual Apprentice’s job duties, this task did show something about who could be creative in general and who couldn’t. Bryce admitted he could not, at least not in this situation.
While Charmaine might have missed on the lyrics and Tarek might have missed on the music, at least they did their best. As I discussed last week, I don’t think people should be punished for putting forth ideas when the rest of the team agrees – that’s what happened here. Charmaine came up with the lyrics and Bryce approved them (plus, it’s really his fault that the lyrics didn’t contain the vital information). Tarek came up with the tune, but Bryce approved it and certainly nobody else on the team disagreed.
So Bryce was not creative enough to tackle the majority of this task himself. However, he recognized that fact and stood up to Trump rather than bringing back the creative minds behind the work they did.
The ninth rule says applicants cannot be one-dimensional. Bryce seemed to understand that, as he flat-out told Trump that if he was looking for a jingle-writer, Bryce was not his man. Indeed, Trump doesn’t need a jingle-writer. He needs a leader who has other abilities as well. Bryce showed good leadership, but he was missing the other dimensions Trump is seeking – at least, he didn’t show them here.
Finally, we have the rule telling people to use common sense. Within the confines of the game, ‘fessing up and taking the blame as project manager is a sure way to get fired. Thus, the contestant who wants to remain on the show would be wise to use common sense and avoid doing this. Bryce, however, was looking more at the common sense taught to him in his upbringing. That common sense told him that if he was in charge, he should step up and take his medicine – and that’s exactly what he did.
There were other elements of common sense in play here as well. For example, the rule specifically says, “Project managers … need to listen to Trump during the first phase of the Boardroom and pay attention to what he says about people.” I think Bryce tried to do this. He knew Lenny was coming, that was a given. But when Trump took a few shots at Lee, I think Bryce saw it as an opportunity to bring somebody else along without much risk. Like Trump himself said in the final Boardroom, there’s no way he was going to fire Lee for observing a religious holiday!
But Bryce didn’t want to give in to Trump when it came to bringing Charmaine and Tarek into the Boardroom. He probably knew Trump would want them in there, but he simply refused. He would not blame them when he had the final approval.
Bryce did something we rarely see on The Apprentice – he stood up to Donald Trump, and he did so forcefully! Even Trump recognized that Bryce has great potential, and I agree. Bryce took responsibility for the loss and shouldered the blame, the way a good manager should. In the real world, most people would admire a man behaving like Bryce. On The Apprentice, though, somebody has to be fired, and if only one person is taking the blame, and that person refuses to point the finger elsewhere, there really is no other choice Trump could make. Bryce effectively told Trump to fire him because he would not allow the game to change what he knew was right. That is why Bryce lost.
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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