The Apprentice: Los Angeles – Why Michelle Lostby David Bloomberg -- 01/26/2007
Let’s get the first issue out of the way now: Michelle wasn’t fired, she quit. But it was clear to everybody from probably the first minute of the show that Michelle was going to be fired. She may have left on her own terms, but Michelle still serves as an example – mostly an example of what not to do. So why did Michelle lose?
Even for quitters, we will use the same method as always to answer this question – we’ll look back at What ‘The Apprentice: Los Angeles’ Applicants Should Have Learned to see where she went so far wrong.
The first rule is to show leadership. Let’s cut to the chase: Michelle didn’t.OK, now let’s back up the bus a bit. In fact, let’s back it up all the way to before the teams knew their task involved a bus. Trump was splitting up Arrow team into two groups. He asked for volunteers to be project managers. Aaron volunteered. Nobody else did. You know, I really hope Trump holds this against the rest of them later, because they all (other than Aaron, of course) violated the first rule, which talks about how you need to lead!
Anyway, with no other volunteers, Trump picked the person who was almost fired last week – Michelle. Even then, it was fairly obvious she was being forced into it. Not good. Not good at all.
And it only got worse. It seemed like Michelle spent more time in the task trying to make sure other people agreed with her than she did working on the task itself. She was so worried about being blasted in the Boardroom that she failed to step up and take charge. This is ironic, of course, because she never even made it to the Boardroom.
If you’re the project manager, it’s always nice to have buy-in from your team. But sometimes decisions need to be made. Everything cannot be a democratic process. And too much debating, hemming, and hawing leads to a shorter timeframe for doing everything else, which can kill you on a short-term task like so many on The Apprentice.
Another area in which Michelle failed miserably was staying cool under fire, as covered by the second rule. It says things like, “you can’t let the pressure get to you.” It even quotes Trump saying, “Good leaders handle conflict easily and bad ones are eaten up by it.” Michelle was eaten up by it and left essentially helpless.
While I suggested above that Michelle’s dickering was due to wanting everybody to agree, I should add that at least some of it was also her nervousness, as exacerbated by the pressure that had been placed upon her. In other words, it wasn’t only that she didn’t want to make a decision, from all appearances she couldn’t make a decision.
And also, let’s face it, being only the second person to ever quit from The Apprentice does not exactly show strength under fire. Ooooh, she had to sleep in a tent – in Los Angeles! Poor thing. That was no excuse, in my book. She folded like a cheap lawn chair.
Which kind of addresses the third rule, which says to have a backbone. As we saw in this challenge, she didn’t. She refused to stand up for herself or her ideas – unless everybody else was on board, and then it really doesn’t count as standing up! And then she wouldn’t even stand up for herself. Heck, she didn’t even let Trump get to the point where she would have to stand up for herself.
The fourth rule is completely irrelevant to Michelle. She didn’t scheme and plot – she quit. But even if she hadn’t, I’m not sure there was anybody there who would have plotted with her instead of against her.
A big part of that is because she didn’t follow the fifth rule, which says to play well with others. Over the past couple episodes, we’ve seen that Michelle was not exactly a favorite among her teammates. We’ve also seen why this was the case! As the rule notes, “If, however, you at least appear to be nice to people, they are less likely to blame you for things, less likely to single you out for bad tasks, and less likely to call you into the Boardroom.” Michelle didn’t learn that lesson.
It seems rather obvious to point out that Michelle failed miserably in the sixth rule, which says to focus on the long-term. After all, quitting ensures there is no long-term.
What about the seventh rule, which reminds contestants that they have to understand the challenge. Compared to Aaron’s team, Michelle blew it again. The goal was to get high customer satisfaction. Aaron’s team focused on ways to get a higher rating. Michelle, on the other hand, worried about covering the tour bus lettering (see The Apprentice Extras), or about who agreed with her. She absolutely did not go out of her way to try to get people to enjoy themselves more, thus missing the point completely.
The eighth rule tells players to be creative. Watching the so-called creative process on Michelle’s team was painful. Creativity was simply not there. Michelle’s teammates by and large disliked her and were not terribly motivated to dream up great ideas. Michelle herself failed likewise.
One reason for this might have been the bass-ackwards way the team went about creating the tour. Instead of looking around for good tour stops and then fashioning a tour around those, they created a concept and then had to try to find supporting stops for it. They put the cart before the horse, and it is one reason they had such difficulty in pulling everything together.
The ninth rule says applicants cannot be one-dimensional. Fortunately for Michelle, this didn’t apply to her. Unfortunately for Michelle, this is because we didn’t see even a single dimension to her talent!
Finally, we arrive at the catch-all “use common sense” rule. Let’s consider a few things. Common sense would have dictated that Michelle’s team should measure the bus for their signage. She didn’t let them do that, despite Frank repeatedly asking (this was in the Extras). Common sense would dictate that if your microphone is creating feedback, you ought to try to find a spot away from the speakers and experiment. Instead, we just heard Michelle and her team complaining that the microphone was broken. Most importantly, as already discussed, common sense would dictate that in a task measured by audience satisfaction, a team should go out of their way to satisfy their audience. But Michelle and her group didn’t do that.
Yes, Michelle lost because she quit. But as we can see here, she was doomed. I doubt there was anything that could have stopped her firing short of maybe one of the guys hitting on Ivanka. Michelle was a horrible leader who spent more time complaining and trying to get buy-in rather than simply taking the reins and moving forward. As we’ve seen, she had plenty of faults overall. But it was clear Michelle didn’t want to lead, and then it quickly became clear that she didn’t know how. That is why Michelle lost.
If you haven’t already, be sure to check out these other recent Apprentice articles:
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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