The Apprentice 5 Weekly Performance Review, Episode 6by Brian Towers -- 04/05/2006
This series of articles about The Apprentice will focus on the business actions of each player. Toward that end, I’ll be giving a brief “performance review” for each applicant each week. Warning: a few comments on game play just might sneak in there as well!
This week, the teams had to design a musical advertising jingle for Arby’s new all-natural chicken sandwich. The winner was the one deemed “better for the Arby’s brand” by two Arby’s execs. The key to this task was to deliver a simple short message and show some originality.
Creating jingles - is this a function of the person Trump wants to hire? It seems a little remote from managing construction projects. Too bad the challenge didn’t involve selling wind-proof umbrellas; it seemed like a perfect couple of days for it.
I was impressed the way the whole team worked together to create the jingle. Even Andrea pretended to help. The result was a contemporary tune that was of very high quality. I note that when the learned they won, initial celebrations were between the trio of Sean, Roxanne, and Michael. This team is still divided.
With the focus on Gold Rush, Andrea and Allie had little camera time this week, and after she came up with the initial idea, Roxanne wasn’t front and center either. However, we did see them all contributing to the group effort in both planning and implementation, so I’ll rate the three of them as VERY SATISFACTORY.
Michael: As much as it’s an issue for Leslie, Michael also needs to get his face on camera. In an aside, he said he wished Sean had given him more responsibility this week. Having never been shown taking a major role before, that isn’t likely to happen. Step up. Don’t wait to be asked, demand a role when work is initially allocated. Or better yet, don’t be the very last one to be a PM. Until I see him truly stepping up, Michael’s rating is UNSATISFACTORY.
Sean: Sean stepped up to be PM this week. I liked his initial decision to have everyone attend the meeting with the Arby’s execs, it was important for the whole team to hear firsthand what they had to say.
It seemed like every subsequent decision was equally golden and I was impressed with what they accomplished. It seemed like Sean was primarily responsible for the superior musical arrangement, and although that made Trump dance for us and I cannot erase that image from my mind, he earns an EXCELLENT rating this week.
Tammy: Tammy asked a strong question when the team met the Arby’s execs, to identify the one main point they wanted stressed in the campaign. Not that I’m rating her down for it, but Tammy’s sense of musical cadence and of what actually rhymes - not good, kind of Lenny-ish. But I’m feeling generous, so Tammy gets another GOOD rating this week.
Responsibility for the team arriving late to their meeting with the Arby’s execs falls primarily to Bryce and Charmaine, but as they strolled in, no one seemed too concerned about it, and that’s a black mark against all of them.
I liked the Gold Rush jingle, which had a nice, comfy country sound until the last four seconds. Too bad they missed the point that you can’t be “better” if you claim to have the only product on the market.
Charmaine: In Bryce’s first team meeting, Charmaine called Tarek on his pompous pronouncements and actions in a mature manner, which was good. Charmaine was the one who booked the meeting that the team was late for, so I put most of the blame on her for not learning the logistics so that they weren’t late. When she phoned to book the taxi, could she not have asked the dispatcher the approximate trip duration? Maybe if they’d been on time, they’d have better understood what the Arby’s people were looking for.
Naïve Charmaine may have gotten a little swept up in that Kumbaya moment in Bryce’s room, but she does NOT get a pass for crying again in the elevator after the boardroom. Before the game is over, if she’s going to win, then all or all but one of these teammates will be sent home and you just can’t be crying in business. Her rating is NEEDS IMPROVEMENT. She’s lucky she didn’t have to return to the boardroom - she may have been sent home.
Leslie: I have no idea why after that last boardroom Leslie didn’t step up and INSIST on being the PM. She also escaped a lot of deserved flak in the boardroom for the lyrics she co-wrote that missed the key point of the campaign. At least we saw that she made a significant contribution this week. However, her rating is also NEEDS IMPROVEMENT for these two big flaws.
Lee: I really didn’t expect to be writing “Lee notes” this week, but even though he gets NO RATING, I must. So here’s the scenario as I see it. First, Lee took the task off for religious reasons and no one, including me, has a problem with it. Then when he came back and the team met at Bryce’s bed, he agreed that he didn’t want a free pass.
In the boardroom, Trump talked about Lee having a bye for the second time and said, “Life is not fair; it never is.” Lee reiterated that he didn’t want a bye. But when Lee inappropriately ended up back in the boardroom, Trump ripped Bryce a new one for it. However, Trump didn’t send Lee back to the suite any sooner than Lenny. Is that inconsistent? Pretzel logic!
Lenny: When Lenny continued to have no clue what a jingle was, I was reminded of American Idol’s Kelly Pickler, who is confused by ballsy minks. Even before Bill Rancic said it, I noted in Lenny’s biography that he has been in America for over a decade. Surely he’s heard a commercial before? Well, if he’s ever watched this show, he has!
Maybe Trump is right and Lenny is playing possum and avoiding work. However, he was very ready to be put up in the boardroom for lack of substantive contribution. His ideas were so lame I was wondering. Perhaps he can’t come up with rhymes as quickly as some of the others, but we’re not talking Shakespeare here.
I just don’t know what the true story is about Lenny this week, so I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and rate him as SATISFACTORY because he stayed positive. But he’s still on “thin ice” with Trump.
Tarek: Tarek spoke right out at Bryce’s first meeting but came across as smug by strongly implying that all the others knew he was the best candidate. Further, his assertion to Charmaine that he’d change his ways was sarcastic and not creditable - and reinforced what she was saying.
Hard-working Tarek took full charge of the recording session and the result was good. Despite what Carolyn said, he didn’t “miss the mark” and the task was not lost on the music or its arrangement. To expect more from the music is not realistic. I’ll call those two a wash and Tarek’s rating is SATISFACTORY.
Bryce: I’ve given Bryce “NO RATING” three of the first five weeks, and he was another one who needed to step out. The good news is that he did and the bad news is when he did it. This was a tough week to be the PM on Gold Rush; with Lee absent and Lenny confused, they were essentially two members short.
I think Bryce had a good idea to try and pull the team together to work out personal issues before they started the task. Alas, things probably got worse. Bryce not answering to the Arby’s execs as to why they were late was not good, and admitting he didn’t know when the meeting actually was or finding out how long it would take to get there was even worse.
Bryce definitely did the right thing in recognizing his personal shortcoming and assigning the creative songwriting task to Charmaine and Leslie. But sitting back and supervising, he should have been sure that it covered all the salient points. However, the second team meeting Bryce called to thank his team before they went into the boardroom was also a good touch for much-needed team unity.
Another place Bryce went wrong was his choices of who to bring to the second boardroom. The team lost because of the lyrics, and that was the product of the two ladies. Further, Charmaine was responsible for messing up the meeting with the execs. She ought to have been there instead of Lee, and I wonder if Bryce’s decision not to bring her back was a non-business one. However, I expect the point is moot and the outcome would probably have been the same.
In the boardroom, Trump could NOT get it through his head that it was Leslie and not Tarek who worked with Charmaine on the lyrics. Bryce stood up to Trump and his weekly misconceptions about what had transpired like no PM this year, and his final comment in the taxi was right on.
Being late was important, there was an omission in the lyrics, and Bryce brought the wrong people into the boardroom. But for standing up to Trump in a classy and classic exit, I will assign him a rating no lower than UNSATISFACTORY.
This was another week where the losing task wasn’t a horrible disaster, so I didn’t have a lot of harsh ratings to give out. However, after the boardroom there was only one way it could, as Bryce didn’t present Trump with any options. Only two losing PMs have survived so far this season and Brent is responsible for one of those. No wonder no one wants to step up.
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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