The Apprentice 5: Why Leslie Lostby David Bloomberg -- 04/24/2006
Leslie was yet another in a string of Gold Rush losers to be fired. But at least, unlike the previous two project managers, she wasn’t fired for not meeting with the client/judge. However, there are still definite similarities. What should Leslie have done better? Why did Leslie lose?
We’ll get to the similarities between Leslie, Bryce, and Lenny momentarily, but we need to address everything at its proper time. That time is determined by going through What ‘Apprentice 5’ Applicants Should Have Learned rule by rule to see just what Leslie did wrong.
What is the most important rule? Showing leadership. Who was the last person on Gold Rush to be the project manager? Leslie. She flew under the radar, and even Trump noticed it. When she finally popped up onto the screen, she did not have a good showing. Early in the episode, Lee had a bit of a foreshadowing moment when he noted that because Leslie waited so long to be project manager, it wouldn’t look good for her to lose. Indeed.
But taking a long time was not Leslie’s sole leadership problem. She decided where to set the price point, with some input from other teammates. But the one person she refused to listen to was Lee, despite the fact that he identified people like himself as the target customer! Lee knew the neighborhood, which was near where he went to college. He knew people would not pay the ridiculous price asked by Leslie. But she wouldn’t hear of it.
Leslie did okay for the second rule, staying cool under fire. While we can fault her decision-making, we never saw Leslie lose it, either during the task or in the Boardroom. So we can move on.
She also did okay in the third rule, having a backbone. Unfortunately, once again we had a project manager with a bit too much backbone. Leslie stood up for her price point and wouldn’t hear of lowering it. Period. Lee showed his backbone too, but trying to get the price lowered, but when you’re not the project manager, you sometimes just get overruled. That’s what Leslie did, and it certainly didn’t help her case.
Leslie never seemed to be a schemer or plotter, so the fourth rule did not apply here. And she didn’t have problems getting along with people, so the fifth falls by the wayside as well.
That brings us to the sixth rule, which tells applicants to focus on the long-term. It’s hard to say what Leslie’s plan was in avoiding becoming project manager as long as she could. Maybe she knew project managers often were fired when they lost and wanted to stick around to make a good impression. The problem with that idea is that she often made little impression at all. No, I think she was just playing under the radar and hoping the strong personalities would knock themselves out while she skated along. It’s not a horrible strategy, but it doesn’t do much to get you to the very end, either. Even if Leslie had made it past this challenge, her long wait could have come back to haunt her.
The seventh rule tells players to understand the challenge – and Trump emphasized this in his Trump Lesson by saying businesspeople need to understand their clients. Remember what I said about Lee, earlier? He was the target client. If he had something to say, the project manager should have listened. But she didn’t. It’s not like Leslie had done other work on client surveys or anything like that – she just didn’t want to go with Lee’s ideas.
The main idea, of course, was to lower the price of the sandwich. As recapper Betsy noted, “Who in their right mind is going to pay eight bucks for a sandwich wrapped in cellophane that you’re going to eat either in your car or standing outside the 7-11? You could get an entire value meal from McDonald’s for less than that. Leslie is nuts if she thinks that’s a good price.” Betsy said it, Lee said it, Lee overheard 7-11 employees saying it, and the fact that they lost adds to the voices. A price that high for a sandwich is simply ridiculous.
The eighth rule tells players to be creative, but not insane. Leslie did not appear either particularly creative or insane. Lee, however, definitely did his best to be the former, even though some of his teammates thought he was the latter. If he could have pulled off his thousand-sandwich deal, his team might well have won. He spent 45 minutes to an hour on it and it fell through. Should he have been punished for it? No! At least he tried something different. What did Leslie try? I mean, besides selling a sandwich for eight bucks.
And that might well answer how she did in terms of the ninth rule, which says not to be one-dimensional. What did Leslie do? Lee had the idea of clearing off the shelf space for the sandwiches. Leslie claimed she would have thought of it if he hadn’t. Uh huh. Lee tried to make the big sandwich deal. Lee had the right idea about the price. Leslie… um… well, I’m not sure what dimensions she might have had.
The final rule talks about common sense. I have to wonder how many college kids Leslie knows. Eight bucks? In college, I could have bought a whole pizza for that price! A hot pizza, at that, not two cold slices with some meat in the middle. (That whole sandwich concept just makes me ill to think about it, but that’s really neither here nor there.) And don’t get me started on the whole trivia question idea. Did they really think busy New Yorkers who weren’t already looking for a sandwich were going to stop on the street to answer trivia questions? Dumb, dumb, dumb.
Leslie waited a long time to show her stuff – but then she didn’t really have any stuff to show. This was truly Lee’s show, but Leslie wouldn’t let him run with it, or tried to penalize him when he did. Lee knew the price point was too high. Both George and Carolyn made that specific point in the Boardroom. Lee knew the trivia questions were worthless. Lee knew to think creatively by trying to pull off a big deal.
Leslie ignored the customer, ignored her teammate, lacked any real sign of creativity, and failed to show a spark that would cause Trump to think there was any reason to keep her around. That is why Leslie lost.
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David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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