The Apprentice 5 Weekly Performance Review, Episode 3by Brian Towers -- 03/15/2006
This series of articles about The Apprentice will focus on the business actions of each player. Toward that end, I’ll be giving a capsulated “Performance Review” on each applicant each week. Warning, a few comments on game play just might sneak in there, too!
Synergy: There’s not much to say about Synergy this week, as most of the focus shifted to Gold Rush. I admire the way the team as a group drove toward the slogan that Michael actually verbalized. Teamwork was also noticeable in the presentation of their event. If they can keep Brent from a major role they ought to be able to put a bit of a win streak together.
Allie and Sean: These two both receive a GOOD rating for taking on the task of informing the dealers about the vehicle as well as their parts in the initial planning session.
Andrea: Once she assumed the Project Manager (PM) role, Andrea did almost everything right this week. Before that, running to the john and crying loudly over Brent’s return was immature and unprofessional. Further, to not even talk to Roxanne about it showed both poor teamwork and communication skills. Martha Stewart (who really does know about such things) would have been very disappointed in Andrea at this point.
If Andrea is going to win the game, at some point everyone around her needs to go home. So if a strong contender leaves it’s to her benefit.
But Andrea did a great number of things right. She organized the team well, including assigning appropriately trivial tasks to Brent. Also, she let Brent talk and logically turned his massage idea down – much better than simply shouting him down.
They started out by identifying their clients, a necessary step in an opinion-oriented task. She knew the importance of having a central theme and encouraged great teamwork to hammer one out. These are both strong moves.
Trump’s lesson this week was on the importance of “Plan B.” When the skeet shoot was nixed, Andrea came up with cart races as her “Plan B.” That kind of adaptability is crucial in the latter stages of the game when things never go as planned.
Finally, her public speaking skills were evident in that her message was interesting to her audience and effective. It was clear that all the objectives of her session were met and that the clients enjoyed the overall event.
So with a lot of good after a bit of bad I’ll give Andrea a rating of VERY GOOD. But, I don’t want to see any more wild crying jags!
Michael: As stated above, Michael came up with the “Nature Refined” theme that the team rallied behind. I give Michael a rating of GOOD.
Roxanne: Roxanne attempted to be supportive of her upset teammate (Andrea) when Brent was not fired, and she also gets a GOOD rating.
Tammy: We didn’t see much of Tammy again this week, just when she was helping out with the cart racing and rock climbing. She gets NO RATING, though the project ran so well she probably deserves a GOOD rating too.
Brent: As I expected, Brent was assigned tasks that minimized his impact this week. I actually think this is a poor tactic, for if Gold Rush loses it is unlikely the most fatal problem encountered can be attributed to Brent.
Recycling the massage idea wasn’t innovative or practical, as Brent seemed to forget they would be outside in a public park.
There are certainly continued bad signs for Brent. This week, among other things Trump called him, “A complete disaster.” Perceptions of Brent among his teammates have not improved at all, nor are we seeing Brent take any steps to attempt rebuild broken fences.
Brent taking a dinner break on his own when it was just shown that Allie was eating while working indicates his focus is inferior. However, all those shots of Brent eating, six in the first fifteen minutes covering three meals – there’s the nasty editors trying to convince us how “bad” Brent is. After all, gluttony is a sin!
So, it’s another NEEDS IMPROVEMENT for Brent… and one for the editors, too.
Gold Rush: Gold Rush is turning into a train wreck. They missed the mark and probably left the dealers feeling less motivated to sell the new Chevy than when they started. Lenny is almost as much an outcast in his group as Brent is over on Synergy, and he may be less willing to be managed.
We can’t be sure who had the idea to sit the spokesmodels at a table by themselves so they could try and learn about the new vehicle, but they really missed their mark. It seems probable that it was either Charmaine or Bryce. What they could have done was to assign each model to part of the car where they could memorize perhaps ten key facts and thus appear somewhat knowledgeable. Further, a team member ought to always been hovering nearby to supervise and fill in knowledge gaps.
Bryce: Bryce stepped in to handle the generator situation that, if left unresolved, was a total disaster. Good move.
It was a ridiculous expectation for Theresa to ask Bryce to bring the spokesmodels up to speed in a mere twenty minutes, but he raced through things that were way over their heads. In the boardroom it was hinted at that Bryce’s responsibilities in this area were greater than what we saw in the planning session.
He also loses a little more luster for his involvement in the tacky golf event, but I’m going to give Bryce a rating of SATISFACTORY because the generator actions trump his lesser faults.
Charmaine: I think Charmaine got away with one big-time this week. It may have been a good idea to get a semi-name entertainer (Last Comic Standing 1’s Cory Kahaney) but when the material became insulting and irritating to the audience, that was a disaster. First of all, some ground rules for material ought to have been established and secondly, it should have been Charmaine and not her PM who finally got the microphone out of Cory’s hand.
It may have been expensive but comedienne Cory did fulfill her obligations and it was correct that she was fully paid. At least they got that one right.
Secondly, Charmaine was responsible for the spokesmodels. Their inability to convey product knowledge overshadowed any possible positive eye-candy factors.
Charmaine gets a rating of UNSATISFACTORY. Cory gets a NEEDS IMPROVEMENT for not reading her audience and adjusting accordingly. I’m guessing that after this airs it will be a while before she books her next corporate event.
Dan and Lee: There may be those who think they should have showed up to work. However, Trump clearly supported them and I am not about to disagree. NO RATING.
Lenny: Lenny was a hard worker again this week, but he was less of an asset to his team than before. He angered his teammates over religion, then over the generator issue. This exhibited very poor teamwork skills.
Maybe providing electricity was Lenny’s responsibility and maybe it wasn’t, but when he was so blasé over the generator problem it was a negative example of his self-motivation and communication skills. Further, initiating the argument with Bryce in the suite was pointless.
In the boardroom, his flip answer that he’d fire everyone was also unwarranted. I’ll rate Lenny as UNSATISFACTORY. What seemed like straight-forwardness last week came across as petulant, confrontational, and argumentative this week.
Leslie: NO RATING is given out to Leslie for the third week in a row. There is a Leslie on the show, right? There must be, she was briefly in evidence last week and I might have seen her from behind working at the golf event.
Tarek: To his credit, Tarek did try to make Theresa focus on identifying a theme. However, he was unsuccessful in getting that point across to anyone else.
Tarek did try to arrange for Astroturf for the golf event, although a piece ten feet by eight feet is a joke. On the morning of the event when the status of the grounds was discovered, we didn’t see the option reviewed. Maybe the money was gone or maybe rapid delivery wasn’t possible, but it we just don’t know. It did seem as though people were having good fun here, but it must have been the wine. As a serious golfer I wouldn’t have been caught anywhere near that fiasco.
Tarek was handcuffed on both issues, but a serious candidate has to work past that. I’m going to generously give him a NEEDS IMPROVEMENT rating. I suspect the opening episodes of this show have been a humbling time for Tarek, who is probably more used to things going his way. As he left the boardroom Tarek said, “I’ll step it up, Mr. Trump.” Don’t tell him; show him.
Theresa: Theresa started out pretty well, but she fell down and she couldn’t get up. Basic point – when you have an event, you need a theme to tie it together. When Tarek tried to develop one, she talked over him repeatedly. The result was an event that was perceived as disconnected.
Theresa did well in assigning various tasks to various people, but the responsibilities of delegation also include getting timely feedback and responding to issues. Theresa came up short in these latter areas. Her resource allocation may not have been ideal either, it seemed Lenny was doing all the setup and then he wasn’t involved in anything.
The horse and carriage idea just didn’t fit in. Giving all those people a decent duration ride would take hours and hours, so either some missed out or the rides were really short in duration.
On the plus side, Theresa is obviously comfortable public speaking.
In the boardroom, Theresa switched her idea of who was most responsible from Lenny to Tarek, which indicated she didn’t have a handle on what had gone wrong. She should have considered inviting Bryce and/or Charmaine to the final boardroom.
However, I sincerely doubt any choice would have saved Theresa. Thus she earns the dreaded UNACCEPTABLE rating for engineering a failure on multiple fronts.
While watching my favorite show this week (Corner Gas) there was a line uttered that is perfect advice for both Brent and Lenny: “If you want to soar with the eagles, you have to pretend to be one.” Sage advice!
Brian lives in Toronto, where he can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. 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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