The Apprentice 5 Weekly Performance Review, Episode 5by Brian Towers -- 03/29/2006
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!
This week, the teams had to design an advertisement for a new concept from Norwegian Cruise Lines (henceforth referred to as “NCL”) called free-style cruising. The winner was the one deemed “most original.” With only three hours to shoot video, the key to this task is speed – get a good idea fast and split up the work to implement it quickly.
I like that the tasks are starting to get a little tougher. Also, this was an interesting episode with the focus on relatively few contestants.
One interesting sidebar – the cruise industry was promoted by Trump as a ten billion dollar industry. Do you know how much ten billion is? Ten billion seconds ago, it was the year 1690! Think of that one the next time you hear about government spending.
I didn’t think the judging executives really understood that the black and white film was supposed to be a representation of another cruise line, but it was clear to me... it was that darn voiceover.
This week we have NO RATING for Michael the invisible man, silent Sean, and torpid Tammy.
Allie: Allie came up with the team’s basic concept of contrasting NCL with a less desirable cruise line. We didn’t see much of her after that, but I’ll give absent Allie a SATISFACTORY rating for that one act.
Andrea: Wow, Andrea. OK – everyone who comes on this show thinks that they, more than any of the others, have exactly what it takes to win this game and become Trump’s apprentice. However, one cannot make her belief of her superiority so overtly obvious to the others who must give you some assistance if you are to gain that prize.
We saw again this week how she visibly reacted to Roxanne’s opinion that Tammy was a better PM, and even continued the conversation back into the suite. I will give her credit for keeping the conversation civil in tone and volume, but it should not have happened. It was particularly interesting that she doesn’t think people need to be “coddled,” but she needs to hear that she is the best. The conversation ended with a thinly veiled threat, and I cannot support that.
It is indeed a thin, thin line between the naked ambition necessary to succeed at the top, and outright arrogance. It’s probably even thinner for a woman. But clearly, Andrea doesn’t realize how others perceive her.
Andrea criticized Roxanne for not developing a timeline. However, with only three hours to get and implement an idea, I would not have spent a significant amount of effort formalizing a detailed plan.
Andrea tried to take over the task on more than one occasion by representing herself as the person in charge. Although it IS necessary to step up at appropriate times, changing the concept of a shot the second Roxanne got a phone call was not one of them.
I thought Andrea seemed to deliberately not understand the idea of the short black and white shot. I suspect she was trying to establish the basis for a boardroom discussion point. That may be good game play, but so is winning the task.
No, this was not a good week for Andrea and her rating is NEEDS IMPROVEMENT.
Roxanne: On the whole Roxanne did well on several fronts tonight. She stood up to Andrea’s inquisition, however at the end she apologized where she clearly didn’t feel she was in the wrong. Andrea told us that Roxanne, “couldn’t handle someone being direct with her,” but I think for the most part she did.
It was a somewhat risky move on Roxanne’s part to step up to be the PM in a week where the time crunch guaranteed some degree of failure. Indeed, she didn’t do the greatest job, but there really wasn’t time to exhibit normal PM skills.
Although she may not be the best source of unbiased opinion, I think Andrea was correct in saying that Roxanne was lacking in her utilization of time and resources. We know this from the reactions of the video crew, who told Roxanne they needed to be hearing “one voice” of direction, plus they didn’t get all the shots they wanted. Tammy also indicated that the team members did not know their roles. Fortunately, a win covers over a lot of faults.
It was very correct when Roxanne called on the team to show her more respect. It seemed like they were anticipating a loss and trying to distance themselves from the project. I like it that Roxanne can say what needs to be said without unduly antagonizing most people. However, it may turn out that Roxanne (and not Andrea) is the new outsider on this team.
Roxanne did reasonable as a public speaker. She seemed nervous but got the job done. Only 26 years old but an attorney, I’m sure this is more lack of experience doing business presentations. Overall, I give Roxanne a GOOD rating.
Neither the NCL executives nor Trump understood Gold Rush’s concept. In my opinion, their ad was weak, but not for the reasons Trump dwelled on.
The first part of the video was very amateurish and I did not believe I was seeing a sea rescue. And when they took away the guy’s watch, I later figured they were trying to indicate that activities were not time dependant, but at the time I just thought, “Why did they steal his watch? Is it to pay for an expensive holiday?”
Finally, the other ad just seemed a little classier. NCL is a classy outfit.
This team is in some trouble now. Lee and Lenny are fighting with Tarek, and the ladies have little use for him either. And Trump has both Tarek and Lenny in his sights!
Bashful Bryce and quiet Charmaine took supporting roles this week and they get NO RATING.
Leslie: Languid Leslie claimed in the boardroom that she offered her expertise, but no one heard her. We never saw this offer – is this more selective editing? Others supported her position, though Lee was most outspoken and his motives are suspect.
Leslie needs to get visual. If no one listens to you, that’s your problem and you will not be successful. Further, Trump has called her out in the boardroom for her lack of “energy.” Her rating is no longer NO RATING, but UNSATISFACTORY. Trump hinted to her that she needs to be PM next week and we’ll see if she steps up.
Lee It’s my opinion that Lee was more interested in playing the game than winning the task this week.
The task was time constrained yet Lee was in no rush to get started. Lee was very supportive of Lenny’s idea, so much so that it didn’t ring true. Further, Lee’s self-imposed role as “Official Team Greeter” to Trump’s assistants did not go unnoticed and I’m surprised Trump is not concerned about such obvious unproductive brown-nosing.
Lee needs to get out from underneath the others’ skirts and shift his focus back to winning the weekly task. For that reason I give him a NEEDS IMPROVEMENT rating.
Lenny When the team first sat down to work, Lenny was especially disinterested in getting off to a fast start, even questioning Dan’s authority in an aside.
Shortly thereafter, Lenny came up with the idea the rest of the team decided to implement, and for that I give him credit. The team (especially Lee) seemed to be in complete support of it. However, any ad incorporating the idea of getting shipwrecked and requiring a sea rescue is not one any cruise line would endorse.
I also question the originality of the concept. I was reminded me of the old AmEx commercial where a bedraggled guy walked out of the sea with only his credit card and into the good life.
Unfortunately, this season people seem to be taking less flak from Trump for not even trying to come up with an idea, as versus trying and falling short. For examples, there are Brent’s bathrobes or Theresa’s horse and buggy ideas. I’m not saying bad ideas should be rewarded; just that “trying” is better than “not trying.”
To his credit Lenny fought for using a voiceover, but Tarek would not hear of it. As that was a key reason for the firing, Lenny’s rating is SATISFACTORY… just. With Trump passing back a warning message for Lenny, it’s time for him to step up and be the PM.
Tarek: I don’t understand why Tarek felt a text reader wasn’t a good idea in their ad, but it was cited as the most important of the two reasons they lost. Coupled with what Trump sees as multiple previous failures on Tarek’s part, I’m a little surprised he wasn’t fired.
Tarek asked, “How often on TV do you watch a commercial only once?” Well, the NCL execs only get to watch it once! And when commercials come on my set, I don’t really watch them. One without sound would not hold my attention.
Before they went to the boardroom, Tarek made the game play error of telling Dan he had no friends in there. Too bad, Dan may have opted to spare Tarek in favor of Lee and Lenny as they were friends. He didn’t do so well once in the boardroom, either. Trump called him “an embarrassment” and implied he didn’t belong in Mensa, and Tarek had no answer.
Tarek’s rating is UNSATISFACTORY. Having repeatedly caught Trump’s eye in the wrong way, I doubt he can survive much longer.
Dan Dan stepped up as PM on a difficult task, and I give him credit for that. He knew there was a very limited timeframe and tried to get right to work. However, he was doing such a creditable Chicken Little impersonation, he confused and alarmed his team to the point that Lee thought he was going to have a heart attack!
Of all the team members, Dan seemed least convinced that Lenny’s idea was a winner. He was steamrolled by the enthusiasm of the others (who seemed willing to endorse any idea that wasn’t their own) and didn’t have time to try and unearth better options.
Dan was accused of trying to do everything himself. Dan did split his team into a second group, with Bryce and Tarek getting the next shot ready, and that was good planning. However, the rest of his team felt they were underutilized. It seems probable that more tasks could have been delegated, with Dan stepping back into a supervisory role.
Dan did a better job than Roxanne as a speaker. However, his “cruising as a life analogy” ramble was not useful.
Dan made a serious game mistake bringing Lee instead of Lenny into the boardroom, for Lenny hatched the concept that Trump hated. Admitting out loud that he didn’t want to be double-teamed by Lee and Lenny was a poor plan as well.
Dan wasn’t very forceful in the boardroom. When Trump browbeat him about not bringing Lenny back, about their poor concept, and about Lee’s role, Dan expressed his differing opinion but did not make any counterpoints.
I give him a rating of VERY UNSATISFACTORY. We’ve seen a lot worse.
Trump made the right decision. Dan wasn’t the most flagrant offender of Trump’s business rules we’ve ever seen, but he was certainly the one most responsible for this week’s loss.
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! Or, write him if you’d like to know what 100 billion seconds works out to!
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