The Apprentice: Los Angeles, Episode 8 – Frustration!by David Bloomberg -- 03/12/2007
Hello there, Apprentice fans! Your usual recapper, Betsy, is unavailable right now due to a feud with her internet provider. At least, that’s what she says. I think she’s just sick of Donald Trump. And really, who can blame her? I mean, last week I thought he was going to fire Randal for daring to ask better questions than Trump did. Instead, of course, he fired both Derek and Jenn.
When the Boardroom is over, Muna is giving her team a pep-talk. She says she knows everybody wants to win the Apprenticeship, but they need to make a decision of whether they want to win the next task or the whole process. I’ll take 3) All of the above. Kristine says they are slowly disintegrating and they need to work harder than ever.
In the mansion, meanwhile, Surya is giving his team a pep talk – one that is not going down quite as well. In fact, Frank calls his manner “sickening” (not to his face, of course – they prefer making fun of Surya behind his back). He says Surya’s story about how he wanted to come to their team because they were so smart and strong is baloney and contradicts what Surya had said earlier about wanting to step up.
I have to say, I understand why everybody is getting sick of Surya. We only see a small part of his pontificating, and I’m already annoyed. He just goes on and on and on and on about how great each person is. Frank tells us Surya is a phony. “I hate him.” Finally, Frank can’t take it anymore and leaves the table while Surya is still rattling on.
The two teams arrive in a park type setting to meet Trump. He has Bill Rancic as his eyes and ears this time. We don’t know who is on his left yet. But we find out we’re in Echo Park (okay, so it’s not a park-like setting, it’s a park, period). He says people like to exercise in Echo Park. For the record, I don’t like to exercise anywhere, thank you very much. Trump says he should exercise, but he pays somebody to do it for him. OK, not really that second part, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
We finally meet the other person with him, Steven Nelson, the executive vice president from GNC. Trump says Kinetic used to be stars, but they’re not anymore. I’m just wondering why the other team has two more people than they do, and Trump isn’t evening them out.
Anyway, their next task will be performing a halftime show during a Los Angeles Galaxy professional soccer game to promote GNC. They will do it at the Home Depot Center and will have access to two different design teams to assist them. The team that best promotes GNC as judged by Steven wins.
Arrow is planning in the van. Frank says whoever puts on the biggest show and gets people involved wins. Tim suggests having a skinny guy getting beaten up in a boxing ring – until he pulls out a bottle of pills from GNC and, like Popeye with his spinach, suddenly becomes strong and wins. James and Frank both like it, but Surya “calls timeout.” Oy. Frank looks like he wants to smack him before Surya even opens up his mouth.
When he does, he says everybody should take five minutes to think up an idea – but no talking out loud. They all sit there with blank faces as Frank shushes everybody. And Surya apparently has no idea he’s being made fun of. But he’s busy writing down his idea. Then Frank announces there are two minutes left. Surya still doesn’t understand he’s being made fun of. Frank keeps it up, and Tim is laughing, but again, Surya still doesn’t get it.
James tells us the obvious – that Surya is driving them insane. He says Surya is only 24, but he acts like an annoying old man. He gives them looks of disapproval like they’re kids (well, they do act that way sometimes), but the reality is he wants to be one of the kids but he doesn’t know how to let loose. Considering what happened with Snoop Dog last week, I think James is right.
Frank announces “pencils down” and asks everybody to hand in their Scantron forms. OK, I think Surya has finally figured out he’s being made fun of.
Meanwhile, Kristine has stepped up to be project manager at Kinetic. She used to do some work for an arena football team that involved on-field promotions. She says their concept is a GNC vitamin challenge. They will have four big vitamin costumes that “four humans will wear.” I’m glad she clarified that they will be worn by humans, because I was thinking she had hired out Martians for the task.
The vitamins will engage in a variety of activities, including running through a clotted artery to overcome heart disease, etc. Muna has some suggestions, and Kristine says they are going to try it different ways, so everybody needs to be flexible. But she promises not to hang anybody out to dry. Hmmm. Foreshadowing?
Kristine tells us Muna is acting like Kristine has no idea what she’s doing. But she’s put on some 30 halftime events. Muna is going on and on, and Kristine tells us, “I’m going to kill her.” Ooooookay. That’s not quite what she tells Muna, though she does stop her and say Muna is not giving her any credit. Muna is taken aback and rhetorically asks us what type of person she would be if she saw an area for improvement and didn’t point it out? So she decides she will shine in her tasks and, “God-willing,” everything will work out. She further elaborates that she believes God is still on “our side.” I’m not sure who the “our” is – herself? Kinetic? I dunno, but no matter what, I can’t believe a supreme deity has nothing better to do than concern himself with what goes on on The Apprentice.
Arrow is at the prop house and they find stuff they can use to make a boxing ring. So I guess they are sticking with that idea, and Surya’s five minutes of thinking didn’t change it. Tim thinks it will come off really well.
James, however, thinks the audience will be too big to make the small boxing ring really stand out. Surya believes James is just setting himself up for the Boardroom, so he can say he objected – they’ve already decided, committed their resources, and the ship has sailed. Surya finishes by telling us, “James, this is why you frustrate me so much!” Ah, Surya, if only you know what James thought of you.
Surya tells the team their idea is everything they thought it was, they just have to make sure to present it right. So he doesn’t want any second-guessing.
Now Kinetic is at the prop house, where they are making the vitamin costumes. One of their props says “strong” on it, but I have to wonder if it’s going to be legible in a large stadium. After all, this isn’t arena football.
Muna is asking one of the prop guys questions, and he keeps putting her off, saying they need to work on other things first. Kristine keeps looking over in an annoyed manner. She tells us Muna was micromanaging the prop guys repeatedly. Finally, the prop guy tells her they are at a point where he needs to be able to work and get it done – HINT HINT.
Both teams are on the field rehearsing. James says he doesn’t think it’s going well and he continues to believe they will not be able to get a simple message across to the thousands of people in the audience.
And now it’s game time! Arrow is in the locker room and James is still trying to get them to understand his concern. It looks like they’re making some last-minute changes, as Bill Rancic looks on. Bill tells us it’s about five minutes ‘til the show, “and it’s utter chaos in there.” He continues, “It would be an utter miracle if they could pull this off.” And from this, we can conclude one thing: Bill really likes the word “utter.”
James and Frank are still going back and forth, and Surya looks like he’s had it with the whole discussion. He says the whole thing is inconsequential, so it’s fine to make the change. James asks again if it’s okay and Surya snaps that he’s one of the most frustrating people to talk to. He adds to us that it’s a difficult team to work with – they are constantly coming up with new ideas and freaking out about something or other. “It makes it incredibly hard to manage.”
It’s halftime! Trump arrives just in time, looking none too happy. He must have run into some white trash on the way over. Anyway, Kinetic has their halftime show first. Lucky for Arrow, that gives them time to completely change their show another couple times before having to put it on.
Angela has the microphone and introduces the vitamin challenge. The vitamins had to go over bone props, through a heart prop, through a ring challenge to emphasize physical fitness, etc. And they wove Muna’s Spanish-speaking into it so the Spanish-speaking members of the crowd could get into it. Aha, they did learn something from the mall challenge. Oh, and one of the red pills won the challenge, in case you were wondering.
Now it’s Arrow’s turn. Frank is narrating on the microphone, talking about Joe, who isn’t doing so well in the boxing ring of life. As he’s talking, Nicole is using the megaphone to try to get the crowd to join in saying, “Hi, Joe.” Ah, good plan – talking at the same time. It appears Joe is about to get mugged in the boxing ring by four guys. Then Frank welcomes “Mr. Vitamin.” If the editing is to be believed, there is no cheering whatsoever, as people just stand around, looking bored. Surya, however, believes the crowd liked it, which means the executive had to like it.
Well, Mr. Executive has one of the same concerns James did, as he tells Bill Rancic it is “kind of a big storyline for the crowd to keep up with.” Oops. They finish up and still no crowd noise. But Surya thinks they’ve been vindicated and is really excited. He’s proud of himself for sticking with a great idea. Hmmm. I hope he tells Trump that when they end up in the Boardroom.
The soccer game continues and it’s time for the teams to meet with Trump and Steven from GNC. Angela thinks they worked extremely hard put on a great show. Surya thinks they executed an out of the box idea to perfection. I think that’s Suryaspeak for “we did well.”
Steven says Kinetic did a great job of promoting the brand, incorporating Spanish and English, etc. When Trump asks how Arrow did, the background music becomes much more dramatic, as if we needed any further indication that they are going to lose. He says they had poor brand integration, it was a difficult storyline to follow, and overall he didn’t understand the concept. So Kinetic wins!
Kinetic’s reward is to go play golf at Trump’s course, which just happens to be rated #1 in California (rated by whom?). They will play with Trump and Mark King, the head of Tailor Made/Adidas. Arrow, of course, will go to the Boardroom, where Surya – er, someone – will be fired.
Arrow is out in the tents that night and they’re very unhappy about the wind that is whipping their tents around. You know, today is the one-year anniversary of when a tornado ripped through my neighborhood, and took a few parts of my roof and garage with it, so I’m not feeling too sympathetic for a little wind right now.
On Trump’s golf course, the women of Kinetic does some driving while Heidi tells us how happy she is to get some face time with Trump. Angela apparently has a good swing – which isn’t too surprising, given that she swings a hockey stick for a living. She hasn’t decided if she’s giving up hockey.
Trump introduces Mark King, and says Tailor Made is coming out with the Donald J. Trump signature golf club collection, and each member of Kinetic gets a full set! With that, he asks to see them hit some balls. So Angela takes a club and whacks Trump right in the— okay, that’s not what happens. But wouldn’t it have been great?
As the ladies do some more driving, Trump is impressed that they all have good swings. He says the last group of people from the show who were taken to play golf were “a fricking disaster.” I can’t recall for sure, but wasn’t Raj in that group?
Angela tells us she likes seeing this side of Trump, as he’s wailing on golf balls – he’s a really good golfer. And she’s saying this out of his presence, so she’s not even kissing up.
Back at the mansion, Surya has his head stuck through the bushes to talk to his old team. He says dealing with Arrow is not like Kinetic, where he trusted them completely. Angela tells him to push the claim that his ideas and implementation have resulted in wins. He asks if Kristine knows that and sulks (even with a big frown) that he wishes he would have never left. Quite a turnaround from his earlier speechifying. Angela says it’s obvious that they won twice in a row because of him. No, what’s obvious is that she has no idea what’s been going on at Arrow. Surya says he’s glad she sees that, because his teammates definitely don’t.
Heidi and Muna join the discussion, as Surya says he’s going to bring Tim and James in, and then James will be fired because he’s always out to protect himself. Well, as long as he has it all planned out. Muna says he needs to get the group to realize they will be better off keeping him instead of James. Uh huh. Wow. Clueless. Of course, all this is going on while James is laughing and joking with the rest of the team and Surya has separated himself, as usual. Do we really think they will pick James over Surya? Please.
One thing Surya does have going for him is that, as he points out, nobody else on the team has ever been project manager and won. The question is whether he can get that point across to Trump. I don’t think he can.
Before Arrow arrives at the Boardroom, Steven from GNC explains to Trump that Arrow lost because their concept didn’t tie to the brand and it was too difficult to understand. Steven would fire the project manager because he should have led the team and the concept. Bill says Surya will certainly be targeted, but it was “Tim’s confusing concept and Surya also had to deal with James,” who made it tough for the group to focus.
The Arrow members come in and sit down. Trump joins them with Kristine on his right and Bill on his left. He immediately asks Frank to explain the concept of their show, “because people didn’t get it.” Frank says they wanted to bring across a positive message about GNC. Well duh, but that doesn’t really explain what the concept was.
Frank continues that the problem was their show was “boring.” Trump asks Surya if that is true, and Surya says they needed to get it just right to strike the right tone of inspiration and— Trump cuts him off to ask whose idea it was if everybody was against it (where he got that idea, I dunno). Surya says at first everybody was for it. Time came up with the idea and Tim says the concept was good but they didn’t execute it well.
Trump asks James if Surya is a good leader. Gosh, I wonder what he’ll say. He surprises me by complimenting him a bit, saying Surya was good in the first task, it broke down a bit in the second, and this one was equivalent to the Lexus task, where they won, but not because of Surya. Tim agrees that there were problems with Surya’s leadership in both of those tasks. The team is not inspired by his leadership because he is not connected to the rest of the team.
Nicole loves Surya as a person, but he hasn’t seen Surya lead – though she admits this is not the easiest group to lead. Kristine says Surya came into a difficult situation, as Surya stares across the table with a sad puppy-dog look on his face that should, frankly, get him fired immediately.
Surya says he has a five-and-two record, which is the best record there. He also has two wins as project manager. Trump points out that the others said they didn’t win because of him. But Surya continues, noting that before he came to them, the team was winless.
Trump asks Surya who the biggest problem on his team was. He hesitates not at all before naming James, who he says creates a climate of “cover your ass,” only thinking ahead to the Boardroom.
James is asked why they lost this task. He says it’s because Surya okayed the idea – Surya voices that everybody loved the idea (which, to be fair, did appear to be the case). Surya says it’s “disloyalty to the nth degree,” though James denies it.
Surya reiterates that he didn’t get a five-and-two record by accident or win two tasks by accident. When Trump asked somebody to step up, it wasn’t an accident that he volunteered to go to a team where, as he can see, things aren’t all roses.
Trump asks if he likes his original team better, and Surya says he got along with them a lot better. Talk about disloyalty to the nth degree… Trump asks if there was more talent on the other team, and Surya avoids answering the question by saying he trusted them. Trump again asks if they were better, and Surya says a team that clicks on all cylinders is always better.
When asked, Stefani says based on this task, she would fire Surya. And if asked who is the least competent overall, she sticks with her answer. Tim agrees. Nicole too. Trump asks if it could have been Tim’s fault for coming up with the idea. Nicole says somebody should not be reprimanded for a brainstorming session. Ha! Tell that to Derek. She doesn’t think it’s Tim’s fault even though it was his idea.
Frank says Tim stood behind his idea, and he’d have to fire Surya based on him not keeping the team in check. Surya tells Trump that he is only concerned about what he thinks, since he is his future employer, as far as Surya is concerned. Trump says that’s a hard statement to make right now, given all that’s going on.
Surya repeats his record, but Trump says his team has never been spellbound by him. Surya says nobody could spellbind them except maybe one of them. What would Surya do in his position? He would fire James. Unsurprisingly, he’s bringing back James and Tim.
While the three guys wait outside, Kristine tells Trump she wouldn’t mind if he gets rid of all three of them because it makes things better for her! Trump says that’s a good, honest answer. Bill says it’s a tough call – either James or Surya. Trump says it was Tim’s idea, but Bill, who apparently has a better understanding of brainstorming, says Tim was the only one who stepped up with ideas. Trump just says, “That’s interesting,” and calls for the three to return.
When they return, Surya begins a soliloquy in which he says he has taken a lot of inspiration from Trump in terms of taking big risks. So when Trump asked for somebody to step up, Surya knew it was a calculated risk. Trump says that in retrospect, though, it sounds like he wishes he hadn’t done it. Surya agrees. But he says what Arrow needs is discipline, and they’re not going to like it when Surya institutes operational discipline and doesn’t let them run wild.
James says they don’t need discipline, they need inspiration. Frankly, I think most of them just need to be fired. James insists he has nothing against Surya except that he kept cutting people off during brainstorming. He feels that because Surya did that in this task, they could not get all the creativity they needed.
Surya, who is getting angrier by the second, says everybody wanted to stop the brainstorming after Tim’s idea. He says he was the one trying to get more ideas. Tim nods in agreement. Surya says he asked for more and more ideas, but nobody had any. Tim agrees, vocally this time, when Trump asks.
Trump follows up with this, asking why then he had said Surya should be fired. Tim says that in this particular line of discussion, Surya did say he wanted to keep the discussion open.
Trump asks Kristine if Surya had a problem in Kinetic. No, he fit in quite well. So Trump turns back and asks Surya why James should be fired. Surya says he should be fired because of disloyalty. Every time they have a critical decision, James all of a sudden has a problem with it. James said if that were true, he would only have said it once. But he said it three or four times – Surya points out that it still came at the eleventh hour.
James asks how he contributed to a loss based on not having brand integration. Surya says James is incorrect for the entire job interview process because of his disloyalty. I don’t see the logical connection there, but okay. James says Surya is afraid to make decisions. Surya says, “absolutely not.”
Bill silences James and says strategically he is covering himself because he waits ‘til the eleventh hour to disagree so he could come into the Boardroom to say, “I disagreed, Mr. Trump.” Bill says, “I know exactly what you’re doing.” Ouch.
Tim, who has been wisely quiet when not asked a direct question, steps up and says that on that point, he agrees – on key decisions, James does tend to say, almost when it’s too late, that he doesn’t like it. Surya jumps in (shut up, man, Tim is helping you!) and says it hurts the whole team.
So Trump asks Tim if he’s changing his mind on who should be fired. He says he still thinks that based on this team and this task, it should be Surya, but he does understand Surya’s complaints. So why would he still fire Surya? Because this group would function very well without Surya, but less well without James.
Surya suggests that if he’s not the project manager, wouldn’t he do well with the group? Tim says it might be better. But Trump notes that he’s not looking for somebody to do well not in a leadership position. He’s not looking for somebody who functions well in a non-leadership role. “I’m looking for a leader.” Oh, Surya, you just opened your mouth at the wrong time.
Surya brings up his winning record again, but Trump again notes that the team says the wins were not because of him. “The problem is you were the project manager on a task that lost.” Well duh. He wouldn’t be here otherwise. “And nobody else can really be blamed for it.” Surya blames James! But Trump says, “James did nothing to lose this task.” Surya says he could have done something to help them win it, but Trump is on a roll and not listening. It’s obvious he’s already made up his mind. He finishes by saying he thinks Surya will be a very successful guy, but now, he’s fired.
Surya just leans back in his chair, shaking his head like he can’t believe it. But Trump sends them off, saying he had no choice. Yes, he did have a choice. In fact, he had the full choice, so it’s total BS for him to claim otherwise.
In fact, Trump then contradicts himself after the three guys leave, saying it was a very tough call. If it was a tough call, he did have a choice.
And, getting to what Trump said to Surya, it was stupid of him to simply point out that Surya was the losing project manager, as if that sealed the deal. Was he really trying to suggest that any losing project manager should almost automatically be blamed and fired? If so, why not credit him with the wins almost automatically as well? Maybe Surya did deserve to be fired (I would suggest, alongside with James), but not for the reasons Trump was simplistically stating.
In the car, Surya says Trump made a big mistake. He had the best record of anyone (yes, we know). “It’s absurd.” He says there were a few moments when he felt like he was a member of Arrow, but 95% of the time, he felt like an outsider. If he had it to do over again, he’d have stayed with Kinetic. They would not have done this to me. “It just shows that the best person doesn’t always win.” Wow. I think his ego just blew out the windows on the car.
Next week: it’s the ultimate Hollywood task, but the real drama is what goes on behind the scenes, with Kristine wanting to slam Muna under a table. Whatever the reward is, Nicole says it’s “huge, I mean big!” – a meeting with “The Governator.” And hopefully, Betsy will return to recap it all for you!
David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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