A Dose of Reality: The Apprentice 3 - Episode 1: A Whopper of a Win
by Beth Gottfried
Published: January 21, 2005
In Season 3 of The Apprentice Donald Trump and Mark Burnett finally got wise to what American TV viewers really want; aside from more nudity that is. In light of the historical political events of this past week (namely, the Inauguration), this season's Battle of the Classes premise couldn't have premiered at a more opportune time. Trump's ability to shake things up a little has also inspired me to try something a little different with my own column. This season while we watch the competition unfold between the Book Smarts and Street Smarts teams on TV, I have secured the assistance of an MBA student/Marketing Analyst, Gordon Miller, to offer some much needed business acumen, thus providing the Book Smarts angle, ensuring that I get the proper Street Smarts labeling. As such, Gordon will be here, giving his input on Team Magna (as in "Cum Laude" for those of you street smart people) and I'll be providing input on nearly everything. (Street people often get stuck doing a lot of unnecessary dirty work) Now that we've all been sorted into our appropriate boxes, let's get down to the candidates.
Book Smarts: Team Magna
Danny: This marketing tech firm owner has been described as a “steam roller with a drunk driver at the helm.” We haven't seen a Magic 8 ball yet, but more than likely, given his random quirks such as playing kumbaya on the guitar while strategizing, he will go down as this season’s Stacie J in that he will be the target for firing based on his unique style. While Danny was weak in his marketing and advertising capabilities, he handled himself in the boardroom and made note of the real reason why the team lost. He showed cunning in the boardroom, getting the blame shifted to Alex and Todd and dodged getting fired. If he does not suffer from Stacie J syndrome, he can make it far in the interview. Beth says: No way Danny is lasting longer than 5 episodes. I'd stake my own guitar on it.
An attorney who enjoys suing men and is developing the first “All Women for Women” law firm leads me to believe that she is a modern day version of Gloria Steinem. In this mission, she looked a bit confused. Confusion coupled with the fact that she cried tells me that she will not last too long in this interview. Beth Says: Erin is the antithesis of Gloria. She's more Paris Hilton in Simple Life than Apprentice material. She lacks the will and the fortitude to go far which is good because I can't stomach the pouting.
A supply chain consultant with IBM who did not seem to offer much for marketing and advertising in this project. She was called out in the boardroom and could not handle herself very well, a huge detriment. Personally, I do not think she will make it past week 5. Beth Says: I had high hopes for Stephanie prior to the boardroom. She doesn't seem to have the debating chops necessary to pull her thru this interview long term.
Kendra: A sharp real estate entrepreneur who did succumb to public opinion about Danny in the boardroom. She made accurate points as to why the team lost. I feel that she will last a while in this interview process. Beth Says: I hope Kendra lasts. She was mute for almost the entire episode, but so was Jen for most of the 16-week interview last time around. Like Jen, Kendra also seems poised and direct and I hope she makes it far. Another indication Kendra will make it far: Carolyn likes her.
Todd: This sales manager was the first casualty this season. Like John from season 2, he was a weak leader with an awful management style. Todd stayed alone and chose to be a high level delegator. He did not get involved in motivating his staff and led his team to get a F in Whopper 101. Beth Says: Todd reminded me of John as well without the chip on his shoulder. He also looks a lot like Jesse Palmer from The Bachelor .
Verna: A business manager in charge of point-of-sale transactions at a world-class restaurant (She worked the cash register at Burger King). She also sold the team on the burger of choice. I believe that she will be able to convince others to follow her lead in future tasks. She will probably last until week 8. Beth Says: I like Verna. I think she's strong and articulate and will go far. Here's hoping.
Bren: This bowtie-wearing barrister did not have much of a presence in this task although he did come up with a unique name for the team (Shiznit?). Based on his confessional comments, I can that he is a person who likes to get things done. Therefore, I will go out a limb and say that he will be one of the last to get fired in the interview. Beth Says: There is something inherently dislikeable about Bren. I can't quite put my finger on it. I do think he'll slip under the radar for a while and last a little longer than he might possibly be worth, augmenting the opposing team, NetWorth's net worth , if you get my drift.
Alex: This attorney has a resemblance to Sam in that he appears to be a bit whiny, annoying, tries too hard, and does not seem to have the respect of his teammates. As restaurant manager, he was responsible for a drastic error by not having enough cashiers to satisfy customers. I do not see him lasting past week 4.. Beth Says: I didn't think much of Alex. I would agree that he won't last past week 4.
The proclaimed Donald Trump of New England did not have much of a presence in this task. It will be interesting to see if this mini-Trump can make it through the interview and learn from the mogul. Until I see some type of contribution on a task, I cannot make an assessment of how far he will last in the interview. Beth Says: I think Michael might last far in this game considering he doesn't talk and appears to constantly be plotting his Machiavellian ideas from afar.
Overall Magna Assessment:
Magna appears to be unwilling to roll up their sleeves, get their hands dirty, and get down to work. Seems that these guys are very textbook, arrogant, and not able to think out of the box. I did not see much energy from these guys as much as NetWorth and they appeared to lack overall creativity. Beth Says: Totally agree with Gordon's assessment, but then again it also feels like a perpetuated stereotype, which always just feels somehow very wrong.
Street Smarts: NetWorth
Angie: Angie opened the first Curves Health Club for Women in LA. She seems tough and successful on the exterior, but I'm not certain if she might be too abrasive for this season's cast. As she didn't seem to stand out on this task, I suppose time will tell.
Tana: Tana is a Mary Kay cosmetics sales woman from the Midwest She's a little like one of those suburban cookie cutter housewives from the movie "Edward Scissorhands." She also seems to yap a lot, but she persevered on this task. The fact that she was able to secure the travel tickets and endured the frisky dog taking a leak on her pantyhose makes me think that she's willing to work hard for success and perhaps has the make-up to get far.
Tara: A Senior Manager of Government and Community Relations for the Port Commerce Department in NY and NJ, Tara seems serious and no-nonsense. Despite the colder veneer, she did show a more whimsical side, dressing up as a cowgirl for the Burger King promotion. If she keeps showing more range, I think Tara could also make it quite far.
Brian: Brian is a salesman from Philly. Familiar with those cheesy glow-in-the-dark necklaces? Brian has become a millionaire from selling those and holds a federal trademark on the stuff that makes those necklaces glow. He stood apart on this episode by wearing a really loud pinstripe suit and coming up with the name "Brass Balls" for the team. This made me feel an immediate kinship to him.
Kristen: Kristen is a real estate broker from LA. This should indicate a few things. First and foremost, we know she doesn't have a soul. She sold it to FOX a few years back when she took part in a reality TV program for them and even there, got a bad reputation. She won't last long here. She may have cunning, but she's not likeable enough. Maybe she needs to dye her hair back blond.
Craig: I hadn't realized how awesome Craig was until I read his bio. An EMT, firefighter, and a partner in an Entertainment/Music conglomerate, he's also been married for 11 years and has 4 kids. Having said all that, he may be a cool guy, but I’m not sure he has enough business experience to pull him through this interview. For his sake, I hope he proves me wrong.
Audrey: Audrey is so young and flawlessly beautiful, she belongs on "North Shore." She's a real estate agent from Utah who is also working on starting up a non profit for high school kids to pursue their dream jobs. All admirable, but thus far, she hasn't quite stood out from the rest of the candidates. (aside from being beautiful)
John: As Project Manager this week, John was top notch. He's a business owner of 2 companies in FL, an insurance agency and an IT consulting firm. Of the cast, he's my favorite. He's a genuine leader and seems to be a very down-to-earth guy. He reminded me a bit of Troy, but with a little more confidence and a little less out-of-the box. Unfortunately, he seems to have a chip on his shoulder (from having not finished college, perhaps?) and I'm hoping this lessens over time.
Overall NetWorth Assessment:
NetWorth is much more likeable than Magna. They appear more diligent and capable. As Kristen said while listening to Danny strum his guitar with the other Magna members, "When those guys were wasting time playing guitar in their dorm room, I was out making a lot of money." Trump also pointed out that NetWorth makes 3X the amount Magna does. The comparison seems a little unfair. NetWorth's team members are older and aren't obviously paying off school loans. Despite their advantageous edge, I'm still rooting for these guys. They might not be the "underdogs," but they have a lot of bite and I admire that.
And now, the Bulk of this Week's Show…
Teams competed this week to market and launch a new burger for Burger King. They had to manage and operate a restaurant for a day and whichever team generated the most revenue from selling their specialty item won. NetWorth/Street Smarts nominated John for the task as he had restaurant experience. Magna/Book Smarts gave Todd the job of PM with Danny as VP Marketing. As Danny appeared to be creative (re: polyester suits, guitar, shaggy hair, etc), I think the team was banking on his creative energy and ability to deliver a strong marketing campaign. Of course, you know what they say about assuming …
NetWorth came up with a western theme for their angus burger. Their "Wanted Dead or Alive" slogan was catchy and to get patrons to buy the burger, they had a raffle and offered 2 roundtrip tickets to LV. Overall, their campaign was very strong and they managed to get everything together and functioning properly in no time.
In contrast, Magna was off to a slow start. Initially, Todd did a decent job delegating, but then was not as efficient in the follow-thru. Sitting in a booth, "looking" busy, he slowly let his team fall by the wayside. He lost control of Danny, who coupled with Stephanie, seemed like a Marketing/Ad team plagued by mental constipation of the worst variety. Even when Todd realized he was losing control of Danny and felt frustrated, he didn't do anything. What he needed to do was march himself over to Burger King headquarters and sort the whole issue out. As we've now seen two seasons of this show, we know how it all goes down and who assumes responsibility in the end. I think by not taking charge in this respect, Todd sealed his own fate.
It's not a big shock that Magna lost. Did you see Danny's street performance? The key is attracting attention, but it's also attracting positive attention around the intended item. I imagine that the only reason anyone on the street stopped to take part in Magna's bean bag toss/promo campaign was because TV cameras were involved. In the end, I was surprised that given all this, NetWorth didn't win by a higher amount. Then again, they did have to cover the cost of the airfare tickets.
Todd takes Alex and Danny to the boardroom with him. Trump calls Danny a "disaster" and Todd a "lousy leader." We've heard all these words before. They have become as embedded into our Trump vernacular as "You're Fired" or "billion dollar enterprise." Danny does a good job not saying too much while Alex further implicates himself by taking responsibility for not having trained enough people on the registers. At the end of the night, Todd gets cut by Donald for being a "lousy leader" and with his elimination comes dashed hopes of further celebrity for yet another yuppie.
A Final Word...Or 2…
What really drives the success of these missions is common sense. For some reason it seems the more education these candidates have, the less they are able to be in tune their gut instincts. Education may be contributing in some part to ability to debate well in the boardrooms, but it's also a detriment in being able to perform well on the designated assignments. It will be interesting to see in the upcoming 16 weeks how this competition unfolds and which candidates excel. I'm looking forward to this season and you should be too. As I stated about nudity in my intro, if it's your bag, you're in for a treat this season. Supposedly, whatever takes place this season puts the whole Ivana skirt issue to shame. When will we ever learn? America was a country founded on religious tolerance and lots of gratuitous exposure. Cashing in on the latter will give you all the temporary satisfaction you need.
Beth Gottfried is co-author of 10 Secrets I Learned From The Apprentice, available at Amazon. Published by Chamberlain Brothers, 2004.