The Apprentice: Los Angeles – Why Marisa Lostby David Bloomberg -- 02/08/2007
With The Apprentice having skipped a week due to the Super Bowl, we’ve had lots of time to think about Marisa. Was she fired for the obvious reasons or were there other issues that played a role and needed deeper thought? Why did Marisa lose?
Sometimes even when the answer seems obvious, it isn’t – though sometimes it really is. The way we tell the difference is by looking back at What ‘The Apprentice: Los Angeles’ Applicants Should Have Learned to dig into the reasons and get our answers.
The first rule tells players they need to show leadership. Since Heidi has been the project manager since the very beginning of the show on Kinetic, nobody else has had the opportunity to volunteer to lead the team. However, that shouldn’t mean they haven’t had a chance to show the type of skills that good leaders have.
Marisa, for example, was in charge of marketing for the Pollo Loco task. The first rule specifically notes that in such cases, applicants should step up and take a stand. Marisa tried to do both – she just did them horribly. She apparently forgot that another part of the rule says, “if you’re going to step up, don’t screw up.” By concentrating almost solely on her one idea, Marisa did indeed screw up. Sometimes you take a leadership role and you’re overruled by the boss. It happens. Deal with it. Marisa couldn’t. We’ll address this again in a little bit.
I should note that because of this rule, Heidi was in a very good position, which hurt Marisa’s cause. If it had been Heidi’s first time as project manager, Marisa (and perhaps others) could have legitimately pointed to several problems with the way this task was managed. But because Heidi had already proved her leadership skills twice, she was safe and secure unless she had totally and completely messed up everything.
Marisa also couldn’t keep her cool under fire, as noted by the second rule. As we saw in the Extras, even when Derek tried talking to her calmly before the Boardroom, Marisa became defensive. Of course, before that she did other things that went in direct violation of this rule.
For example, the rule says you can’t let criticism consume you. “You have to deal with the situation an move on. Worrying about it or obsessing over it won’t help you one bit.” Let’s think about this. While we didn’t see Heidi level any particular criticism at Marisa, refusing to use her idea could have been interpreted that way. But how did Marisa respond? She worried about it, obsessed over it, and simply could not – would not – move on. How many times did we see her call Heidi back about the chicken suit idea and/or the “Bravado Bowl” name? I lost count. That’s obsession, and it is most certainly not staying cool.
Of course, it certainly could be interpreted as following the third rule and having a backbone. She certainly stood up for herself and her ideas, after all. But she seems to have ignored the part of the rule that acknowledges there is a time to give up on it: “However, there comes a point when you have stood up for yourself and your ideas, and you still lose the debate. At that time, you have to let the project manager make his or her decision. … There comes a point on the ob when the boss has said, ‘This is the way it will be done.’ Employees need to recognize when this point has come and accept it.” Marisa didn’t have any concept about where this point existed. To her, it was all about standing up for her idea, even if it was clear to everybody else in the world that her idea was going nowhere fast.
Marisa didn’t do anything wrong in terms of the fourth rule, but we do have an issue when it comes to everybody else. That rule says scheming and plotting usually don’t work. Note the “usually.” This was one of those fairly rare cases where it did work. Because every single person on Kinetic turned against Marisa, Trump was forced to lean towards firing her. Somebody else would have had to have completely crashed and burned for him to fire anybody but Marisa. While there was enough blame to go around, no significant amount landed on anybody but Marisa. And, frankly, Marisa deserved that blame. So the fact that everybody was conspiring against her wasn’t a coincidence, it was well-deserved.
Of course, they wouldn’t have all been targeting her if she had done better with the fifth rule, playing well with others. There were two people assigned to marketing, yet we heard nary a word of criticism directed at Derek – and he apparently came up with the “Bravado Bowl” name! Why do you suppose that is? Well, the rule notes, “If … 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.” Marisa didn’t get along particularly well, then she was blamed and called into the Boardroom. Coincidence? I don’t think so.
The sixth rule tells players to focus on the long-term. Specifically, applicants have to remember that the challenges are short-term in nature, while the long-term goal should be to get a job with Trump. Marisa apparently lost sight of that. She was so focused on one small facet of one challenge that she lost sight of the bigger picture. She should have made her suggestions, been overruled, and moved on. If they had lost the challenge, she could have brought up her points without appearing to have had tunnel vision.
And who knows – with her mind freed up from chicken suits, she might have been able to come up with other marketing ideas that could have drawn customers in and made them want to buy the Paradise Pollo Bowl. She might have even come up with the idea of marketing the bowl to local businesses – an idea that pretty much spelled the win for Arrow.
Of course, that would have required following the seventh rule and understanding the challenge. The simple fact is that this was a marketing challenge, period. Getting people to the restaurant, in and of itself, was not important. Selling lots of stuff to customers was, in and of itself, not important. The only thing that mattered was getting them to buy the chicken bowl created by the team. That means customers had to know about the product before they reached the register. Sure, the sales force could try to sell them on the product, but customers are unlikely to buy something they’ve never heard of – most people know what they’re going to order by the time they get to the register.
Let me give you an example that I suspect is pretty general in nature. When I pull up to a drive-through window, I know what I want to get. I am, frankly, annoyed when the disembodied voice in the menu board greets me with, “Hi, welcome to McHardeeBurger. Would you like to try a loaded omelet burger croissant?” No, I wouldn’t. If I wanted to, I would tell you. I cannot think of a single time when I was asked this and said, “Sure, I don’t know what that is but I’ll give it a shot.”
Back to the issue at hand. Marisa’s big idea was getting people in chicken suits. While it would have attracted attention, would it have done anything to tell customers what the Paradise Pollo Bowl was? No. People already know that El Pollo Loco sells chicken. This is not a surprise. And selling chicken, in general, was not the task at hand. Marisa needed to come up with a marketing strategy that explained to people what was in the Paradise Pollo Bowl specifically and why they should want to try it. She failed to do that.
This is certainly connected to the eighth rule, which says to be creative but not insane. Dressing people up in chicken suits is better than handing out flyers made at Kinko’s – but not by much. And as we just discussed, it would have done nothing to explain what their specific product was. Marisa needed to be creative, not get one idea and harp on it.
Ninth is a reminder that you can’t be one-dimensional. I can’t really say if Marisa was one-dimensional or not, but we certainly know she was one-track-minded. And we didn’t see anything to indicate she had multiple talents.
Finally, we arrive at the rule saying contestants simply need to use common sense. I could bring up the one marketing idea again and the repeated phone calls, but we’d just be beating a dead chicken.
Marisa was put in charge of marketing on what should have been a marketing-intensive task. But she was not up to the challenge. Marisa not only acted in a way that failed to move her team forward, she also managed to alienate all of her cohorts. At the beginning of this article, the question came up of whether Marisa was fired for obvious or not-so-obvious reasons. It was both. Marisa was obviously unable to function in an environment where she was not the top dog, because as an underling, your suggestions do not always end up being the final answer – she couldn’t handle that. Less obvious was that even if Marisa hadn’t made such a pest of herself, she failed to find success by doing the job that was given to her. Combining these two gives us the answer to why Marisa 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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