The Apprentice 5 Weekly Performance Review, Episode 9by Brian Towers -- 04/26/2006
Since neither Celebrity Knitting nor Shot Put With the Stars has cleared post-production yet, NBC has resumed broadcast of episodes of The Apprentice for us this week. So – I’m back to work too! In this series of articles about The Apprentice I will focus on the business actions of each player and give a brief “performance review” for each applicant each week.
Also, this week, at the end of this article – an opinion survey for those of you who want to share a thought or two! Talk about full service – does it get any better than this? All right, let’s get on to this week’s episode!
The task this week was to create and market a souvenir program about Ellis Island. Judging was based on the dollar amount of sales. I prefer this to tasks that involve subjective judging or “number of units sold.”
On the surface this was a simple task, but in fact there were many facets to it. One, create the product. Although the product was not the main part of the task, they needed to create an attractive book with interesting visuals, especially on the cover. Two, set an appropriate cost point. Three, decide how and where you are going to sell the product. And most importantly, four: sell, sell, sell!
After losing four times in a row, was it possible to hear the hallways whispering “Ulong” whenever Lee, Tarek, or Charmaine walked by? Well, a solid performance this week silenced those voices. Of the points I listed above, they seemed to be superior on all four, and especially on key point number three, location. Well done!
Charmaine: Charmaine tried hard to use her “inside sales” background to generate sales to local hotels, and although it wasn’t extremely fruitful, it did generate some results late in the day. However, I like it that they were thinking big. Additionally, it was an idea she voiced many hours sooner than Andrea.
Charmaine knew the best ways to pare down Lee’s unwieldy list of hotel prospects. She also has a good, positive phone presence, evidenced by her work calling the hotels. I did note that in the message she left on “Brian’s” machine, there was no return number for him to call. Maybe that part was edited out?
Most importantly, there were no signs of the negative attributes she’d been exhibiting through the losing streak. In fact, although she was dissatisfied with Lee, she kept those feelings out of the task. Charmaine’s rating is GOOD this week.
Lee: Lee stepped up to be PM, and after the last boardroom, the timing was right. It was a good game move when he told his teammates that The Donald wanted him as PM. If Trump ever said that, it was never aired.
Lee made one statement in the suite in front of both teams, “…all the people that I’ve fired,” that showed a little unwarranted ego. That needs to be kept in check.
I thought the idea to split up the team into two groups was the right way to go, though it was a bit of a risk. However, it was a good risk because he was confident that Tarek and Michael could do what was necessary. This allowed Gold Rush to get a head start on sales while the product was being created, and it was the best use of his human resources.
He didn’t get a great start on sales when he gave Charmaine a small phone book of leads to follow. He should have realized that without having to be told.
We don’t know who came up with the selling cost, but Lee had to have approved it and it was at a level where a high number of sales could be made.
Ivanka felt Lee was taking a risk in letting Tarek have control of the creative process. I’m not so sure. This was a marketing task, not a creative task, and Lee needed to direct his efforts there. As long as the book looked presentable, the price was OK and proceeds were going to a foundation, whatever they created was going to be acceptable. And now, it’s a Reality Collectible! I’d LOVE to have one!
His best move by far was getting the team up and out early and securing the best location. This successfully blocked Synergy, who wasted much effort contacting many people who had already purchased the Gold Rush book. This is the second time they’ve risen early to secure the best location (the first was in Times Square).
Lee’s problems were minor and even though the win may be as much attributable to his team as himself, his rating is EXCELLENT.
Michael: As usual we didn’t see a lot of Michael, but this week the results of his efforts was evident.
At the initial planning meeting, he volunteered his photographic expertise and that partly allowed for a successful separation of the team.
When Synergy’s Tammy first looked at the Gold Rush book she quickly recognized that it was a better product. That had to be in part because of Michael’s photography. His rating is GOOD.
Tarek: Tarek worked very hard again this week. Given the key position of having creative control over the book, he produced a winner. Even the other team thought so – Tammy described them as, “Way nicer than ours.” From what little we could see, I was impressed as well.
Tarek’s rating is EXCELLENT. For someone who had one foot out the door, Tarek has relaxed a little and put forth some solid efforts of late. I expect he’ll be PM next week, we’ll see if that can continue.
Well, you know I’m going to say Synergy “missed the boat this week,” so let’s get that said and move on. A group that seemed so cohesive after Brent just left collapsed under the constant stress applied by Andrea.
What was most discouraging was that even after they showed up they were being out-hustled for sales by Gold Rush. Additionally, they priced their book higher and that cannot have helped.
Allie: Allie didn’t do the best job as PM, and I think she’s lucky she didn’t have to come back and go one-on-one with Andrea. She’s luckier still that Ivanka wasn’t making the final decision, or Allie would have been fired for sure.
Allie started well. On the boat ride over she had the idea to try and place their booklets in existing “touristy shops.” We never saw any follow-up on this to see if it worked out, though.
Andrea was correct to mention to Allie that the initial stage of the project was poorly planned; no way did all five of them need to go to Ellis Island. I was reminded of the episode of Rebel Billionaire when one team took a slow boat to see an enormous Buddha – it was very impressive, but ultimately, a waste of limited resources.
When Tammy lost her notebook, Allie should have assigned someone else to go help with the search. Leaders lead, staff run about in National Parks. As it was, their product was largely developed in her absence and it was inferior.
I agree with Allie that the book didn’t look the greatest when she first rejoined the team. However, the task wasn’t lost of the appearance of the book. When one buys souvenir books, how many people ever look past the cover before buying it?
In fact, if they stayed up late “fixing” the book, it might be why they got a comparatively late start the next day, a late start that IS the main factor leading to their loss. This showed both poor time management and loss of focus on the true objective by Allie.
Allie led the group who doubted that Andrea actually sold as much as she claimed. This makes me question Allie’s bookkeeping and accounting skills. Did she not track the money as she received it through the day, or did she just empty her pockets at the end of the days and say, “Hmm, looks like we sold $843 worth of books!”
Also in the boardroom, Allie showed further inconsistency when she said she gets along with everyone. This, after slagging Andrea for the whole second half of the show!
I’m assigning Allie an UNSATISFACTORY rating. This was not a good showing for her at all.
Roxanne: Roxanne did well in telling Sean he needed to rethink his experiences with Andrea and to make his own decision. She had the appearance of being reasonable while anticipating the result would be favorable.
In the boardroom Roxanne’s stock rose as Trump remembered she had previously expressed doubts about Andrea’s abilities, and she reiterated that without becoming mean-spirited. The Donald complimented her verbal presentation skills in the boardroom, which is never a bad thing either.
Probably her best move this week was suggesting that they change location to actually be on Ellis Island. I suspect they could make sales to people who just saw the exhibits, were impressed, and were about to return to the mainland. For that, I’ll assign a SATISFACTORY rating to Roxanne.
Sean: Sean was not as much in evidence this week, and I was tempted to assign NO RATING. Then they had their pre-boardroom discussions.
For me, the most disconcerting thing about Sean was that he never saw Andrea’s obvious shortcomings. Perhaps he hasn’t been on the receiving end, but her constant questioning of her PMs, her dictatorial style of leadership and her poor sales skills are all things he’s either seen or mentioned before.
Sean insists on playing the game without backstabbing. That’s noble, but others don’t play that way and I’m concerned about Sean’s evaluation skills. Even though Ivanka agreed with him, he’s mistaken if he thought Andrea could be managed by Allie (or any of them). I assign him a NEEDS IMPROVEMENT rating.
Tammy: Finally, a Tammy sighting on this show, and what does she do? After spending hours taking copious notes in preparation for a potentially nice little “text creation” task, she leaves this key material behind. It resulted in her and her PM being removed from the task for several hours. And as stated above, this problem snowballed until it developed into the primary reason they lost.
Maybe Tammy was better off being under the radar, it’s a NEEDS IMPROVEMENT rating for her. Warning, next week it’s her turn to take the lead. Will she? Will we finally find out if Tammy is a contender or a pretender?
Andrea: Uncompromising Andrea got evicted from Trump Island this week. The way the others ganged up on her and got the result they wanted reminded me more of Survivor or Big Brother than The Apprentice. I was actually rather surprised, in that it’s unusual for Trump to bail out on someone he felt was “a star” so quickly.
This was a representative effort for Andrea, though. Even when she did something right (like pointing out to Allie that resources were being wasted), it was done in such a heavy-handed, off-putting manner that she loses more points than she gained.
Andrea didn’t see why Tammy was writing so many notes from the tour guide and just wanted to create a package based on the available free pamphlets. Well, if one is going to charge people for a product, it really ought to have some value of its own.
Andrea’s questionable sales skills were not really a factor in this task. Now, no one knows what the true sales numbers are, but let’s do a little arithmetic. If she did indeed sell the $210 worth of books she claimed to have sold, at $5 apiece that’s only 42 books. Selling at $3 each, the competition sold over 500 books each. So even if Andrea doubled her output, it’s still no contest.
The eleventh-hour asking of permission to attempt some large-volume bulk sales was a good idea, but it came far too late considering it’s supposed to be another of her areas of expertise.
Always-right Andrea must have loved it that she could be in control of creating the book while Allie was stuck on Ellis Island, but not so much when Allie expressed her displeasure when she finally returned.
In the boardroom segment, it was hard to tell whether Trump or Andrea was more surprised to hear that Andrea isn’t a “star” or a sales wizard. In fact, I was very surprised that after she eavesdropped on the others and knew their intentions, she didn’t perform better in there. Perhaps her lack of experience in an Apprentice boardroom was a factor, but she seemed totally unprepared to aggressively defend herself.
I was amused when in the boardroom she admitted that her frequently touted skills in sales, printing, and graphic design actually meant hiring people with those skills! That does explain that ugly and cluttered Post cereal banner. However, it also shows that she clearly misrepresented her skills to her teammates.
Trump is looking for someone who is a leader, but this person also has to work within the corporate structure of Trump Enterprises. Andrea consistently showed a lack of support for her teammates that she would never tolerate from them.
As for a rating, no more games, Andrea’s always been UNACCEPTABLE. No wonder she works for herself. I did have some perverse fun writing that maybe she could win, as most of you readers who write to me and everyone else here at RealityNewsOnline found her to be quite annoying.
There was an interesting tidbit of info that slipped in one of the commercial breaks, that over a dozen countries now have their own version of The Apprentice, including Greece, South America, and Indonesia.
Finally, with ten of the initial eighteen contestants gone, it’s time for a brief, non-serious, and unscientific opinion poll. Click here to access the poll. It will be open until sometime Monday. I’ll tabulate the results and report them in next week’s article.
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!
Be sure to sign up for our e-mail update so you can stay informed about new articles on the site! And take a look at the rest of the site. You can find all of our recent articles on this show at our The Apprentice page and take a look at our sections on The Amazing Race 9 and Survivor: Exile Island. You can even buy reality show stuff at our Reality TV Store!
For more news about The Apprentice, be sure to check out SirLinksALot's Apprentice page!