The Apprentice: Los Angeles – Why Surya Lostby David Bloomberg -- 03/15/2007
It has been obvious that Surya would be fired as soon as Arrow lost for three weeks. But then, when they finally got to the Boardroom, it actually looked like he might survive! So what happened? Why did Surya lose?
Even though the firing of Surya seemed obvious for so long, the reasons for the firing were a bit of a surprise. Let’s dig into What ‘The Apprentice: Los Angeles’ Applicants Should Have Learned to see what happened and why.
First and more important than anything else, Donald Trump expects his Apprentice-to-be to show leadership. Indeed, practically the last thing Trump said to Surya before, “You’re fired!” was “I’m looking for a leader.”
But Surya never really did lead his team. Yes, he was their manager, but he was often in a world of his own, with his team paying no attention to him. It’s easy to blame Frank, James, and the rest for their antics – which, especially in the case of Frank, were incredibly immature and unprofessional and ensured he will never win – but the fact of the matter is that Surya needed to see there was a disconnect and do something about it. That is, he needed to do something besides whining about it.
All leaders and managers are going to end up with a wide range of different personalities under their command. Indeed, one of the standard questions frequently asked at interviews where I work inquires as to how the applicant deals with difficult people and/or people who have different goals and backgrounds. The proper answer is that a good manager needs to address those differences and find a way to turn them into positives – or at least as positive as you can. Not every employee is going to be a star, but sometimes you can turn a nonproductive person into a contributor simply by paying attention and understanding what makes them tick.
Even today, I doubt Surya has the foggiest idea what makes people like Frank and James tick. He had his particular style of management and he was trying to mold everybody to that style rather than realizing he needed to mold himself to fit in better with the rest of the team. He seemed to think he could simply be a dictator and the rest would fall into line. But it doesn’t work that way.
The second rule says players need to stay cool under fire. “Surya” and “cool” should not even be used in the same sentence. He freaked out at James during the GNC task. He freaked out in the hedge before the Boardroom. He freaked out in the Boardroom itself – repeating “five and two” over and over again like a mantra. There was nothing cool about him (see, I had to use a pronoun so as to avoid mentioning his name in the same sentence as “cool”!).
Third is to have a backbone. I will say that Surya did okay with this – perhaps even better than okay. The problem was that he stood up for himself in ways that made him a target for ridicule. And as much as I’ve already noted how the ridicule was immature, Surya really did set himself up sometimes.
The fourth rule reminds us that scheming and plotting usually doesn’t work. And if we had somehow forgotten that, Surya’s time in the hedge certainly brought it back. He obviously thought if he could get Kristine on his side, he’d do well in the Boardroom. The problem was that Kristine was not going to stick her neck out for him – and she shouldn’t! And the advice given to him by his previous teammates was worse than worthless.
Surya certainly had a problem with the fifth rule, playing well with others. But he was different from most who violated this one. He didn’t actively piss people off like the Omarosas of the world. Instead, he just, well, didn’t play well with them. Look at the reward from the previous episode, for example. Everybody else was having fun making a song with Snoop Dog. Surya, a self-proclaimed fan, stood leaning against the wall. It was like he didn’t know how to let loose and have fun. This only served to further alienate him from a rather loose and fun-loving team.
This was also obvious during his stint at the hedge. While he was whining about his team, the rest of them were sitting around and laughing. As the outsider, it was easy for them to point the finger at him as the cause of all their woes. After all, who is an easier target, a guy you drink with, laugh with, and have fun with, or… Surya?
Sixth is to focus on the long-term. This is a tough one with Surya. He certainly is a focused individual – but what was he focusing on? I’d have to say he was generally focused on trying to win the challenge each week. In fact, he was so focused that he often missed the big picture. Part of the big picture is the possibility of long-term success on the show and eventually winning the job. With the way Surya was acting, there was simply no way he could win, even if he had survived this particular trip to the Boardroom.
The seventh rule tells players they need to understand the challenge. The GNC executive, at least, felt Arrow didn’t succeed in this area. The point was not only to put on a show, but to promote GNC. Arrow’s show was far too wordy to ever have a chance at working.
The blame for this cannot be totally placed at Surya’s feet, but a good portion must be. First, he was project manager. Second, Surya himself is a far-too-wordy kind of guy. I don’t think it ever occurred to him to try to convey their thoughts in a manner other than by explaining it. As the old saying goes, “show, don’t tell.” Kinetic showed. Arrow tried to tell. It didn’t work.
Eighth is to be creative. I don’t know that we saw a whole lot of creativity come from Surya. In this challenge, certainly, he didn’t come up with the idea, nor did he offer up a better one. Surya was all about the process, not the ideas.
Which caused him a problem with the ninth rule. That one says applicants cannot be one-dimensional. But the main dimension we saw of Surya involved boring people to tears while using big words.
All of this is well and good, but the tenth rule is where Surya ensured his departure. What’s that? You thought it was pretty much over due to the first rule, way back near the top of this article? Well, yes and no.
Surya did get fired in large part because he was a lousy leader. But it seemed he had just about turned the tide towards James when he made his biggest mistake. He actually suggested that he would do better with the group if he were not in a leadership role. Trump jumped on this immediately. It was, quite frankly, an incredibly stupid thing to say. I know his intention was to show that he could work with the group and thus should stay around, but that intention got lost in what actually came out of his mouth.
Everybody on this show should know by now that Trump wants leaders. That’s why it’s the number one rule around here! So to suggest that you’re a better follower than leader simply defies common sense.
Surya did many things wrong. But the keys came in the first and last rules. He not only failed to show himself to be a good leader, but he made the phenomenally dumb mistake of suggesting he would be better on his team as a follower instead of a leader. He handed Trump a perfect reason to fire him just when it looked like it might be going the other way. That is why Surya lost.
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David Bloomberg is the Editor of RealityNewsOnline and can be reached at RNO@pobox.com.
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