The Apprentice: Los Angeles, Weekly Performance Review, Episode 3by Brian Towers -- 01/24/2007
In the third episode of The Apprentice: Los Angeles, we saw something a little different when Michelle spoiled Trump’s fun by quitting before he could fire her. I can only assume that – mistakenly – she thought there was a chance he might fire someone else, and she wanted to avoid continuing in the game at all costs. Maybe, but she still did a wrong thing. I’ll say more on that later though, because now it’s time for a “Performance Review” of each active applicant.
This week I preferred this task to the ones we’ve seen to date. Arrow had to run a tour bus and get the top rating scores on a survey filled out by “a focus group of tourists.”
This task took advantage of this season’s unique location and there was a factor of presenting oneself well to an unfamiliar audience. Now, I’m not usually in favor of tasks where the judging is subjective, but this time it didn’t matter because the winning team was obvious.
Kinetic spends so much time at the hedge listening to Arrow shoot themselves in both feet that I think Team Hedgehog might be a better team name. Good for them! They continue to gather important information about Arrow that will be useful in the future when the teams are reshuffled. At the rate Arrow is losing, that may be very soon.
Kinetic wasn’t actually partaking in the task this week, although they did some team bonding. No one caused any disruption, so no one gets a bad rating. Although I’m a big fan of a quality Shamu impersonation, I regret that’s not a dimension I traditionally pass comment on, so it’s NO RATING for all but Heidi.
Heidi: Heidi gets a GOOD rating for the complete and honest way she reported her Boardroom experiences back to her team. A more devious player might have lied, exaggerated, or omitted key details, but Heidi did not take those lower roads.
As the conversation shifted to the way the rest of Arrow turned on Michelle, Heidi’s comment, “There are disruptive people in any business and you just need to roll with it,” was right on the money.
This week, Arrow was split into two groups, with the unit led by Aaron winning by an overwhelming amount (82% to 58%) over that of unwilling leader Michelle. When the teams were chosen and Michelle picked two of her harshest critics (Tim and Nicole) for her team, the die was cast. So let’s look at the winning trio first. As usual, the winners team got minimal face time this week, and again, we saw very little of how the project was actually accomplished.
Aaron: I liked it very much that when Trump called for volunteers to be the next project managers, Aaron stepped right up. It was discouraging that no one else did, so all the better for Aaron.
As mentioned above, we didn’t see a lot of what Aaron did, just the positive result of a handily won victory. In the Boardroom, his teammates gave gracious kudos to Aaron, with James specifically mentioning “leadership, and willing to listen.” Two things we are aware of are that he encouraged open discussion among his teammates and he ensured the task preparation was completed so there was still time for some shuteye. Neither of these things happened on Michelle’s team.
So finally, I can type the words I’ve been longing to write all season: Aaron gets an EXCELLENT rating!
My last comment for Aaron is that it’s a rough break for him that Michelle’s decision denied Aaron from the opportunity to sit on the other side of the firing table. Every opportunity to shine in front of The Donald is to be cherished.
James: James started out in a very interesting fashion with his idea of renting Laker Girls to attract business. It ensured they had more passengers than they could handle. Too bad this didn’t address the actual task at hand, namely running a tour that pleased the customers. Contestants need to stay focused about the true objective of the task – this one was about quality, not quantity.
However, James did do well by coming up with the theme of “Famous Places, Beautiful Faces.” It’s a positive theme and what tourists expect when they tour Hollywood.
Unfortunately, we don’t know who had the excellent idea for one of the trio to take an existing tour to see what they could learn from it. James made great use of the opportunity, though, by noticing the annoying, distasteful jokes and the need for refreshments.
James has a youthful enthusiasm that is infectious and it makes him very likeable. However, Team Arrow should never give him that much coffee and a public audience again! He ranted meaninglessly in the first part of the tour and almost undid all the things that had gone right up to that point. This kept him from receiving a top-notch grade, as oral presentation is very important. But since in the long run it wasn’t fatal, I can assign him a GOOD rating.
Stefani: Stefani did a few things right this week. First of all, her research was of high quality and gave them interesting tour material. But her best move was later on the bus, when (as she pointed out to us) she saved the task for her team by wresting the microphone from babbling James. She saw a bad situation and stepped up to fix it. That didn’t happen so much on the other team.
Stefani calmly and coolly delivered a smooth patter that ensured the task would not fail. As I said above, oral presentation skills are important for someone heading up a Trump endeavor, so it’s also an EXCELLENT week for Stefani.
Frank: Frank also did well in this episode. It started during the planning session, when Frank was unequivocal in his support of his PM when asked if he liked the theme. In fact, although he didn’t like working with Michelle, he managed to avoid the distasteful and negative sniping the others featured so prominently. This might normally be an expected behavior, but in this episode, apparently not.
Let me take a brief aside to talk about these articles and the Yahoo webisodes. As far as these articles are concerned, I only write about what I see on the broadcast show. However, the webisodes are great viewing and worth the trouble for fans like us (or you can read our recap of it). This week, we saw irrefutable evidence that Michelle was a bad PM who can’t make decisions, and that it drove Frank right to the edge.
Teamed up with Nicole on task(s) unknown (but apparently doing nothing), he took the initiative that they should independently acquire costumes and signage. Without that initiative, they’d have failed even more miserably than they did. No one else stepped up to help Heidi, so again Frank gets credit for what ought to be standard procedure.
Even in the Boardroom, Frank tried to carefully choose his words and stand behind his PM. Trump was having none of it, so Frank confessed accurately that Michelle had shortcomings in the area of decision-making.
I can only go so high when a team lost this badly, so this time out, Frank earned a VERY GOOD rating. However, Trump again took specific notice of who was the last one picked, and it was Frank. Frank’s a fine worker bee, but he’s still got zero chance of winning this game.
Nicole: As noted above, while working with Frank, Nicole helped accomplish some needed foot-soldier tasks. However, she ran down Michelle several times, which is unnecessary and not good teamwork.
I’m not sure how to view Nicole’s unwillingness to pull an all-nighter. Clearly her need for rest was as real as the need to keep working, but being the only one who bailed out on a losing task would not sit well with Trump. Her childish arguments when roused from her sleeping bag and her claim that her body position did not affect her thinking process perhaps proved that some sleep really was in order?
One wonders if she’d have responded otherwise for a different PM. For poor team skills, Nicole gets a NEEDS IMPROVEMENT rating for the week.
Tim: Ahh, to be one of the cool kids! Tim made it clear early in this episode he wasn’t a fan of Michelle by talking smack about her with Nicole. Later, while out with Michelle searching for items of interest for their tour, he dutifully and uselessly made a note about a tacky strip club. Following instructions but not being productive is not how to win tasks, build teamwork, or support your leader.
Tim did a good job of allowing Michelle the opportunity to fail. He was purposely non-committal when Michelle asked him for a decision on which location was better. Technically he may be correct that she ought to be the one deciding, but when the boss is foundering and specifically requesting your input, one needs to step up and make a save.
Several questions need to be asked. How could Tim possibly think the “John Belushi” story was appropriate? What’s with improperly identifying the street they were on? And, was this Tim’s first time with a microphone? Or was he playing games with Michelle as the target? It looked that way to me, Tim’s been better on the job than this.
For his poor team skills and subtly sabotaging the project Tim gets an UNSATISFACTORY rating for the week.
Michelle: Michelle went home of her own volition, but there were actions to be examined first. The primary problem she faced was that she assembled a team that had no respect for her and, except for Frank, did not put forth extra effort on her behalf.
Michelle started well by identifying a theme (“A Day in the Life of the Rich and Famous”) that all agreed on. I was still supportive of her when she made a valid attempt to get buy-in from her teammates. Then, she repeatedly harped on getting their buy-in and everyone became convinced it was just an attempt to share future blame. That was a good start, ruined.
Michelle waffled on decisions all day. Although her instincts were correct when she figured their initial location was questionable, an inability to decide between Hollywood and Beverly Hills cost them so much time they could never recover. As her biography includes the partial quote, “I grew up in L.A.,” why didn’t she know better?
Time was wasted on almost every task, leading to further problems. Because so much time was lost, it became necessary to pull an all-nighter. This strained people who were already depleted past their breaking points. Tim and especially Nicole were unwilling to stay up. One of Nicole’s reasons to get some sleep was because she didn’t know what she was supposed to be doing, and it’s pretty late in the project for that concern to come up!
After the tour, in an unsure, wavering voice, Michelle told us, “There were some people on the bus who were certainly not angry...” Surely she had initially set her objectives a little higher than that?
In the Boardroom, it seemed obvious to the viewer that Trump had identified Michelle as the one going home. So when she quit, was she trying to avoid hearing the unpleasant words, “You’re fired!” or was she afraid she might somehow escape and be forced to carry on? Her argument was essentially that camping on the lawn was not something she’d bargained for, and not something she wanted to keep doing.
I partially agree. Five seasons of history indicate you’d be living in a luxury loft with full amenities, not sleeping in a coldwater tent. However, Michelle is a bit of a princess, isn’t she? Back when this was filmed in the late summer, was it really “freezing cold” or was it closer to 70? How much rain have we seen, not counting sprinklers?
It probably would have been best for Michelle to wait until the next phase of the Boardroom and let the whole process play out without defending herself. Should she somehow survive, quit at that point.
In what I see as her biggest fault, Michelle did not foresee how her actions had put the rest of her team at incredible risk, with one of them still possibly getting fired. Even as she packed, she was sure this wouldn’t happen. It turns out nobody else was fired, but her assumption was not based in fact.
I was rather discouraged that all the Trumps jumped on Michelle so aggressively for resigning, calling her a loser and forcing her to listen to patronizing advice she clearly didn’t want to hear. Jeepers, the woman is 34 years old and sells $50 million a year in real estate, she’s no neophyte in the world of business. I am quite confident that Michelle is still comfortable with her decision to quit and sleeps well at night.
Michelle’s rating is clearly UNACCEPTABLE. Almost every aspect of this task was a disaster, and the timing of her quitting put her team at unnecessary risk. She may be good at what she does, but she couldn’t seem to adapt any of it to the task at hand.
In Conclusion: Did Trump make the right decision? Yes, not firing a second individual was the right thing to do. Additionally, he’d find himself running short of episodes without sacrificing his beloved “double firing” nights.
I have no spoilers for next episode. Last article’s spoiler turned out to only be half right – Don was there, but so was Ivanka.
That’s all for this episode. Please feel free to let me know what your thoughts are at the address below.
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Brian lives in Toronto where he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He spent a couple of decades working in middle management at The Prudential, primarily hiding behind the coffee machine to avoid his pointy-haired bosses. He’d like to hear your opinions and promises to respond to all serious email!
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