The Apprentice 4 Weekly Performance Review, Episode 4by Brian Towers -- 10/17/2005
This series of articles primarily focuses on the business actions of each player on The Apprentice. Toward that end, I’ll be giving a capsulated performance review of each applicant.
Team Excel performed well again this week. They communicated with each other well, freely exchanging original and winning ideas. Keep this up and Trump will be forced to shuffle the teams on you! I note that every member contributed in a positive way to the design of the character and/or the campaign, and I give each of them credit for that.
Since this was primarily an episode about the other team, there weren’t a lot of activities to rate… but here’s what I have for them.
Adam and Randal: These two guys developed the winning jingle. GOOD.
Brian and James: I think I see Brian and James in the group shots and in the rare confessional, and it seems they are contributing positively to results, but I just don’t have specifics for them… again. Playing baseball doesn’t count, unless they’re hiring for the company softball team. That’s sure not why I played! (Maybe you have to be better than I was?) NO RATING – guys, get some face time!
Clay: Team outcast Clay’s dictatorial style annoyed most of the team, notably but not limited to James, Randal, and Josh. Like Bobby Cox in Atlanta, his main talent seemed to be introducing just the right amount of pine tar into the gears to gum up a finely working machine. “Fear of losing” isn’t my favorite motivational speech, either.
At least he knew the importance of having a “DQ” symbol on the belt. His up-tempo presentation would have been a plus, except he had to read much of the script.
Frankly, from what little we saw of him I have no real idea why his team gave him an exemption for next week. However, I’ll accept their recommendation and give him a rating of GOOD.
Josh: Josh was low key as well this week, though he did express in a cameo how displeased everyone was with Clay as a leader. NO RATING.
Mark: In the ultimate definition of taking one for the team, Mark stepped up and agreed to be the model in the girl-genie suit. GOOD.
Markus: It seems Markus has learned that there’s times it’s best not to speak. This week, he held his tongue when it was just Clay that was attempting to shut him down. Good for Markus! Further, although it annoyed Clay, he knew it was important to schedule time to allow some planning for a meeting with an outside agent, and to not just show up unprepared. GOOD.
Capital Edge Wow, a train wreck again! There were so many internal problems with Toral, it became an unnecessary draw on the team’s energy, time and attention. It showed in their ill-planned and implemented scheme that featured a character with the lame name of “Zip” whose construction was clumsy and design would only appeal to young kids.
This whole series seems to be about product placements at times, what with all the branding associated with the challenges each week. The omission of the Dairy Queen logo was a fatal error – companies that spend millions on an advertising campaign like to see their logos prominently featured.
Since everyone was a part of at least one of those things, only one person gets a better rating than “SATISFACTORY.”
Alla: We didn’t see a lot of Alla this week, but she was in on the important discussions and key activities, even though the end results were not very good. Her questioning of Toral regarding should Alla feel silly if she wore the costume… spot on. I feel generous so I’ll give her a rating of SATISFACTORY.
Kristi: In the opening discussion about Toral, Kristi took a lead role in forcing Toral to admit she hasn’t been giving a full effort, and letting her know that this was unacceptable to the rest of the team.
She was also willing to take one for the team and wear the costume when Toral refused. I saw Trump on SNL in the chicken suit, and it wasn’t demeaning, it made him seem like more of a normal guy.
Kristi also took a lead role in berating Toral for not wearing the costume. However, saying “I’m so done with her, it’s over,” into a conference call is not any way to behave, so her overall rating is SATISFACTORY.
Felisha: Felisha is lucky this was Toral’s week to crash and burn or she’d have been the one going home. She made a lot of mistakes this week, including approving the omission of the logo and the iffy character/costume of “Zip.”
The weekly Trump lesson was “maximize potential,” and I think that’s Trump’s editors at work, trying to imply that Toral was untapped potential. Perhaps she was, but a higher power than that of a weekly PM was going to be needed to draw that potential out of Toral. I do not lessen Felisha’s rating for this reason.
Her dealings with Toral were mostly appropriate, though it threatened to get personal. She took the pains (and time) to make Toral say in front of everyone exactly what her position was about the costume. Thus, when it came to the boardroom, Toral was on shaky ground. If you’ve ever had to dismiss an employee, you know you have to have your facts right. If you haven’t done so – it requires a lot more than what we saw here and varies by jurisdiction, but we’re dealing with compressed timeframes. Bottom line, you expect to be accused in return and your facts must be unassailable.
So, there were several pluses and minuses for Felisha this week. I’ll settle on a rating of SATISFACTORY… just. The product your team produced was not at all impressive. However, it was a hard week to be the PM in an environment where you don’t have the authority that a true administrator would have. For example, you can’t affect her salary or future assignments, or transfer her elsewhere. And you can’t “make” someone put on a goofy costume.
Jenn M: Jennifer was a key contributor in the design of the costume, though I’m not sure if that’s a plus or a minus. Her presentation was pretty decent, given the week material she had to work with, and she fielded most questions well.
She showed better teamwork skills than the rest of her team by her encouragement for Rebecca, who was getting despondent about the thrashing Toral was taking.
Before the boardroom fiasco removed all doubt of who was going home, Jenn related in a cameo that Toral wasn’t the real reason they lost the task. It’s not the first time she’s stood alone. However, when it came time to name a name for The Donald, Toral had sealed her fate so Jenn had no reason to say otherwise.
Most importantly, Jenn was the only one who wanted the logo shown. However, because the point is so important, it may not be conceded. Yet, Jenn gave in.
Jenn said in her confessional that the other women never take her suggestions seriously. That must be overcome if she intends to lead projects for the Trump organization. It’s her single biggest flaw – she needs to make herself heard.
Jennifer did some good and some bad things this week, but because these last two points are the bigger ones the rating must be, NEEDS WORK.
Marshawn: First up, “Scooper” is a much better character name.
In the presentation, when no one else was inclined to talk about the obvious error of omitting Dairy Queen logos, Marshawn tried to explain the mistake. Of course that wasn’t possible, there was no valid explanation, but at least she stepped up. And in the boardroom, admitting that there was “no excuse” for omitting the logo… well, there wasn’t, so good for being the one to say it.
Like Jennifer, maybe she needs to get her points across better? I’ll monitor that in the next week or two.
But, primarily for keeping the lowest profile during all that counterproductive drama, the rating is GOOD.
Rebecca: Rebecca started well by initiating communication regarding what happened in the last episode. She came up with the character name, “Zip,” that the rest of the team liked. She finished well by finally admitting that the situation with Toral was not a winning one.
Rebecca was in a difficult position this week, but it was of her own making. If you can suffer a poker analogy, she knew when to fold a losing hand. I rate her work this week as SATISFACTORY. I might have gone higher for her, except her horrible decision to keep Toral from harm last week forced this whole disruptive issue in the first place. Also, I never saw her make any attempt to steer Toral into a better position.
Toral: From admitting to the team she didn’t try her best on earlier tasks, to refusing the PM job, to refusing to get into the costume, and to invoke previously-unspoken religious concerns… the firing was defiantly the right move. Toral was thrashed badly in the boardroom, caught being rude and untruthful. Was that boardroom really only seven minutes long?
Did you see her making faces during the presentation? Very unsupportive. How about talking over Carolyn in the boardroom? Not good. I’m not about to requote the whole “Why Toral Lost” article, but I saw a self-deluded, snobbish woman who was far too loose with the truth. Good luck making up with the administrative assistants in your office when you get back!
Well, those are the performance reviews for this week. I’ll be back next week with a fresh review of our remaining candidates’ activities.
Brian lives in Toronto, where he can be reached at email@example.com. He spent a couple of decades working in middle management at The Prudential, primarily hiding behind the coffee machine to avoid his pointy-haired bosses. He’d like to hear your opinions and promises to respond to all serious email!
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