The Apprentice: Los Angeles – Why Derek Lostby David Bloomberg -- 03/08/2007
I have to admit, I didn’t see Derek’s firing coming. He seemed to always have a funny comment, a good personality, a positive attitude, and the brains to win it all. So what the heck happened? Why did Derek lose?
While the commercials before the most recent episode made it sound like “two words” alone would cause Trump to fire somebody, were the words “white trash” really enough, in a vacuum, to send Derek packing? Or was there something more? Let’s look back at What ‘The Apprentice: Los Angeles’ Applicants Should Have Learned to see what we can see.
The first rule, as always, is that Apprentice wannabes need to show leadership. Derek did not really step up to the plate in this regard. In fact, he repeatedly allowed others to lead in the apparent hope that they would fail and he could get rid of them – like Jenn this week. And he even extended it to Angela as well.
Even though Derek was not the project manager, he should have attempted to show some leadership. As the rule notes, “You should volunteer for a significant role, step up, take a stand. Don’t just hang back and wait for the project manager to screw up.”
Yet the latter is exactly what Derek did. He could have helped more on this project. He could have aided Angela too. Instead, he sat back and watched time go by while Angela blew the 9:00 deadline. Rather than pushing to get it done, he was planning his strategy for the Boardroom, when he believed he could say his part was done by 8:00 and Angela would be to blame. As recapper Betsy noted, “Derek needs to think a little less about the Boardroom and a little more about actually winning.”
But if he was worrying about the Boardroom, certainly he knew that once he got there, he needed to follow the second rule and stay cool under fire, right? Well, maybe he knew it, but he didn’t do it. Once he saw that he was getting blamed for various problems with the task, he decided to go the smart-ass route and crack some jokes. Unfortunately, he decided to make self-deprecating jokes about himself and he said it in front of Donald Trump, who is humor-impaired.
Beyond that, though, he did something that simply is not allowed in Trump’s world: He denigrated himself. If this process truly is a job interview, Derek should have only been saying good things about himself. Calling himself “white trash” obviously is not a good thing in Trump’s book.
At least Derek showed that he has a backbone and was willing to stand up for himself. He tried to explain how various things were not his fault; he tried to explain how just because he threw out suggestions doesn’t make him liable for the team actually using those suggestions. Trump would have none of it, but it wasn’t for lack of Derek trying.
Speaking of Derek trying, he attempted to scheme and plot his way through the Boardroom. We’ve already seen how he planned to sit back and blame Jenn and/or Angela at various times during the task. He specifically said that while he knows Trump makes the decision on who gets fired, he believed he could influence the decision by getting everybody to agree on targeting one person.
As it happened, Derek was right! Jenn did get fired. The problem was that by that point, Derek was no longer around to see it happen. And I don’t really think plotting or scheming was necessary (we’ll discuss that more in “Why Jenn Lost”). There is a reason the fourth rule says such behavior usually doesn’t work.
The fifth rule tells players to play well with others. I think Derek did fine here. While Trump did not appreciate his sense of humor, the others seemed to like it.
Sixth is to focus on the long-term. Derek didn’t do so fine on this one. As we’ve already discussed, Derek sometimes seemed more interested in pointing the finger of blame rather than lifting a finger to help his team win. Long-term thinking means making yourself look good, not just trying to tell Trump that other people were worse than you were. Not good.
The seventh rule tells applicants to be sure they understand the point of each challenge. It’s not terribly clear if anybody on Kinetic really got it on this one. Lexus is a luxury brand. That’s what people were expecting. Go-carts? No. Arrow had it exactly right. Kinetic had it exactly wrong.
So where does Derek fall into this? It’s hard to say. He did suggest the go-carts, but that was just part of a normal brainstorming process. The whole idea of brainstorming is to allow everybody to shout out anything, without restriction. Cutting out things comes later. Trump didn’t understand this, but that’s something we’ve seen before, where the person who happened to shout out an idea gets blamed for it. It’s just stupid on Trump’s part.
But we’re digressing. While it was just brainstorming, it seems like they were just not headed in the right direction – and I have to include Derek in that “they.” They should have been brainstorming ideas of ways to show luxury. Not just random ideas for things they could do to spend their seed money.
The eighth rule says players need to be creative. Derek, in general, seemed to be a pretty creative guy. He apparently did some good work on the signage, for example. However, he sometimes seemed to limit himself in this area because he didn’t want to help people he thought deserved blame. For example, I’m sure Derek could have come up with ideas to help the creative team before they had been getting nowhere for hours. Maybe he wasn’t specifically assigned to it. Fine. But I don’t think Trump is looking for somebody who only does exactly what he’s assigned to do, even if he could help in other ways.
This actually leads us directly into the ninth rule, which says you can’t be one-dimensional. Trump wants somebody who can be of use in multiple areas. Derek did not show that he was that person.
The tenth rule is where we once again return to the “white trash” comment, because this rule says players need to use common sense. Derek was not the first person to say something stupid in the Boardroom. Waaaay back in the first series, David admitted he would not have been as good a project manager as Troy. Goodbye, David. And who can forget when Bradford told Trump he didn’t need his exemption? Trump took it away and then fired him for saying something so stupid.
That’s where Derek’s comment falls. Frankly, I don’t think it was anywhere near as dumb as either of the two cases I just mentioned, but it wasn’t smart. Joking or not, most people would never denigrate themselves in an interview. Furthermore, it just wasn’t a good idea to bring race into it – and let’s face it, “white trash” definitely talks about a person’s race, even if it isn’t thought to be a racial/racist comment. Just not smart.
The way things were going, Derek might have been fired even if he hadn’t made the “white trash” comment. He was being blamed for the go-carts. He was being lumped in with Angela for the signage problems. His plan to blame everything on Jenn just wasn’t quite working. But then Derek made certain he would be fired by leaving common sense behind. When you combine what Trump saw as a poor showing on a task with an even poorer showing in the Boardroom, you can understand why Derek 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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