The Apprentice 5: Why Allie and Roxanne Lostby David Bloomberg -- 05/29/2006
Each time an Apprentice wannabe is fired, I write up a column explaining why they lost. Even when there have been multiple firings – all the way up to four people – this is how I’ve done it. But now that Allie and Roxanne have been fired together, it seems appropriate to address them together. They worked together the whole time, bullied people together, and left together. Therefore, let’s ask why they lost together.
Even discussing two losers at one time, we will still use What ‘Apprentice 5’ Applicants Should Have Learned as our guide. Trump may have indicated they were fired because they were friends who turned on one another, but frankly that’s ridiculous (remember his own fight with supposed friend Martha Stewart?) There are very solid reasons the twin terrors were sent packing, so let’s take a look.
The first rule, of course, is to show leadership. Both Allie and Roxanne (let’s just call them Roxallie) showed that they knew how to boss people around, but that’s very different from actual leadership. A big part of leadership is knowing how to deal with people, whether they are your friends or you can’t stand them. Roxallie had no idea how to do this. When one of them was project manager, ideas from anybody else simply were not worth as much. Indeed, in the last task Allie had nobody else to disagree with and finally had to go against Roxanne.
But it wasn’t particularly Roxanne’s leadership that led them to a disastrous loss. Allie might have claimed she would have been better, but there is no evidence to suggest that is true. Roxallie both acted together on most of the task, with only a few relatively minor disagreements. Indeed, how often did Allie talk about the decisions being 50/50? (Though I bet if they had won, the apportionment would have been a bit different.) It’s hard to have a leader and a follower when there are only two people, but it’s sometimes still necessary. Somebody has to be in charge. Roxanne didn’t fight for it when decision time came and Allie didn’t want blame for it when Boardroom time arrived.
The second rule tells contestants to stay cool under fire. Roxallie was usually the pair doing the firing, both in the Boardroom and during challenges – their weapons of choice were sarcastic remark missiles and eyerolls of mass destruction. They teamed up on several other players, causing them to lose their cool and often get fired. But usually Roxallie dealt with the pressure okay.
That ended when Roxanne and Allie had to face each other in the Boardroom. Roxanne said she wasn’t willing to throw Allie under the bus. Allie obviously did not have the same hesitation, causing Roxanne to retaliate. The two alleged friends then started screaming at, to, and about each other to the point that neither made much sense and both looked like whining children. Whether they understand it or not, it is possible to make points without screaming. In the end, neither kept their cool and both were fired.
At least both of them paid attention to the third rule, which addresses having a backbone. Both of them were always willing to stand up for their ideas and themselves – and often each other. No problem here.
But the fourth rule did present a problem. It says scheming and plotting don’t usually work. “Aha!” I hear you say. “David’s wrong, because Roxallie schemed and plotted their way to the final four.” Yes, they did. But that’s as far as they got. Final four doesn’t get you anything more than a pat on the back. Trump & Co. knew the two of them were schemers and were ganging up on people. I have to say that Trump was running a bit of a risk letting them get as far as they did – what if Sean and Lee had lost the final task? Would we have seen a Roxallie finale? That would have been pretty horrible. Maybe he’d have found a way out, but I digress. The point is that Roxallie often didn’t show skill in getting past the other contestants, they showed the ability to be sneaky, two-faced, and downright nasty. Some might say this describes Trump, but it has not, to date, described any of the people he’s hired on this show.
One reason is that such people don’t play well with others, in violation of the fifth rule. Lord knows Roxallie didn’t. At first, it seemed that Roxallie just went after the same villains that viewers wanted to see gone. But soon it became all too obvious that villain or not, Roxallie was going after them. For example, they ganged up on poor Sean for daring to have an opinion that differed from theirs! How could he?! He obviously had to go! And he was better off leaving the team, because now he’s in the final two (and I believe he will win), while they had to take the taxicab of shame.
In the end, Roxanne and Allie couldn’t even get along with each other. They had to point fingers, like it was encoded in their DNA. Heaven forbid Allie should take responsibility for her screw-up. She had to win, and if that meant attacking her supposed friend, then so be it.
The second part of the fifth rule says to stay professional. There was very little professional about Roxallie’s behavior. It is possible for friends to work together, and even for one another. I’ve seen it. But the key is to not let the friendship get in the way of the working relationship. If you are the boss and your friend screws up, you still have to let him or her know. Roxallie simply covered each other’s butts whenever there was a problem. Each went into the Boardroom knowing they could count on the other – at least until the end. To some extent, that helped them. But Trump & Co. also knew it was going on, as Bill Rancic commented at the previous week’s Boardroom. Loyalty is good, protecting a friend blindly is not.
Part of the problem was that neither of them really focused on the long-term, as encouraged by the sixth rule. If they had, it would have occurred to one of them that, hey, only one could win and they should consider playing individually to show their own strengths. Then again, considering they actually seemed to think they might be able to convince Trump to not fire either of them, maybe they figured the could both win together.
Even if that’s the case, Roxallie still should have recognized that the only way to get hired is by showing they deserved to be there, not by ganging up on other people. However, ganging up seemed to come naturally to them, so maybe that’s how they live their regular lives too.
The seventh rule is really where they blew it. Yes, I’ve already pointed out a number of things they did wrong, but if they had won this challenge, Trump would have seemingly had little choice but to put them in the finale. The problem is that they didn’t have the foggiest idea how to perform in this challenge. It was like Tammy predicted when she was fired – they couldn’t handle a task that wasn’t sales-related.
The main problem was that Roxallie got it into their heads that they knew what the Embassy Suites workers wanted better than the workers themselves. Allie, in particular, blew by thoughts of functionality and went with her impressions of style. Roxanne went along for the ride, barely saying anything to the contrary.
How many times was the key point raised that functionality was more important than style? Allie thought it was just the reverse, which indicates to me that she’s never had a job where she actually had to work. Actually, it kind of sums up Allie throughout the competition: style over substance.
To make matters worse, not only did Allie fail to understand how important functionality was, she also seemed to miss the point that the employees themselves were deciding. I mean, did she really think a doorman wanted to go outside in the cold and rain (or snow) in a short-sleeved shirt? Lee and Sean, meanwhile, figured out how to incorporate style while allowing that same doorman to be comfortable no matter what the weather was like.
In short, Roxallie completely blew the challenge. The votes were horrendously lopsided, and I’m surprised it was even as close as it was. I can only think some people felt sorry for them.
The eighth rule says to be creative, but not insane. The “insane” part hadn’t come into play much this season, but Roxallie brought it right out here. Really, insanity is about the only explanation for the designs they created. They were trying to be creative, but didn’t realize that creativity had to have boundaries. While they muttered to each other about how the guys only made subtle changes, that was exactly what the Embassy Suites employees wanted!
Ninth is the admonition not to be one-dimensional. Tammy said it best when she talked about the two on tasks that weren’t sales related. Even on those that were, I wouldn’t exactly call Roxallie geniuses. Still, if they had been, it wouldn’t have been enough to save them. As the rule notes, “Trump is not looking for just a salesperson. … He is looking for a leader who can provide creative thoughts.” And no, changing a chef’s outfit to khaki is not the kind of creative thought he’s looking for.
The final rule tells players to use common sense. If Roxallie had been using theirs (presuming they have any), they would have realized that they were going way overboard in their last challenge. They would have understood the numerous hints about functionality. They, frankly, would have had a clue. But they didn’t. ‘Nuff said.
So despite all the complaints I had about their leadership, the way they ganged up on people, and the overall manner in which they behaved, those were not the reasons Roxallie were fired. Instead, it was simple and to the point. They utterly failed to understand the task. If this had been a real job situation, where a company was trying to figure out which bidder would win a contract, they would have blown it because they were more interested in imposing their ideas rather than listening. Then again, that pretty well sums up the way they behaved the entire time, doesn’t it?
Despite what Trump suggested, he didn’t fire Roxallie for fighting with one another. Their fates were sealed when they so totally blew this task. Indeed, that is why Allie and Roxanne lost.
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David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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