Apprentice Week 13: You want me to wear what?!

Have you ever seen a snake start to eat its own tail? Me neither until Monday night. In the boardroom. It was awesome.

The task was to design uniform for a hotel staff. The staff would pick the winners. One team listened to the staff ahead of time. The other team forced their ideas on to the staff.

It wasn't even close.

Once again, we saw the importance of listening to your customer.

If you don't want to know who won, you probably already stopped reading.
Table of Contents

  1. Fallout from Last Week
  2. The Task
  3. Lessons Learned
  4. Team Gold Rush
  5. Team Synergy
  6. Fashion Show
  7. The Reward
  8. The Boardroom

Fallout from Last Week

After Allie and Roxanne came back from the boardroom after last week's battle, Allie lied about how she treated Tammy. She said, “I totally tried to mediate y'all. There was totally no ganging up.” This is so completely untrue. Allie and Roxanne sabotaged Tammy from the start last week, and when she ultimately failed, they mercilessly attacked her in the boardroom.

I've seen less vicious attacks on Hannity and Colmes.

Even Trump was surprised. The next day, while assigning the task, he turned to Allie and Roxanne and said, “What you did to Tammy was not nice.”

Sean wasn't just upset that Tammy was gone; he was also upset because, “I have to listen to Tammy and Roxanne for another week...They have no integrity.”

Sean was furious, and he turned that fury into a powerful motivator. This week wasn't about being the Apprentice. This week, simply, “I am going to destroy Synergy.”

And that is exactly what he and Lee did.

The Task

Trump introduced the remaining candidates to their task at Estee Lauder, allegedly to emphasize the importance of design in their new task. The new task was actually about listening to customers, and not design, but that didn’t seem to matter.

Actually, it was just an excuse to show off Donald Trump, the Fragrance cologne bottle as an example of great design.

I suppose this is necessary. If only there was some way Trump could generate some publicity…

This week's Apprentice had the teams redesigning the uniforms for the staff at Embassy Suites. They had to come up with new uniforms for the Suite Keepers (housekeepers), Bell Staff, Front Desk Staff, and Breakfast Chef. The hotel staff would judge the candidates and pick the winner.

Each team had a professional designer and clothing making people at their disposal. They teams needed to bring their ideas and vision to the designer who would then implement it.

The task was fairly straight forward. Details are available here.

Lessons Learned
  • Know your customer
  • Listen to your customer
  • Listen to your customer some more.
  • Did I mention listen to your customer?

Customers decide whether a business succeeds or fails. The purpose of all businesses is to get money from other business or people. To do that they have to give the customer something the customer wants. If they don’t, they lose. It seems obvious, but Allie and Roxanne missed that.

Lee and Sean paid attention to what the actual contest judges – the staff at Embassy Suites – wanted. And they gave them what they wanted.

Team Gold Rush

Lee took on the project manager role. On the way to the Embassy Suites, they began planning. Lee focused on the employees, impressing on the Sean the importance of listening to the employees. Sean also realized they had an advantage when he realized he and Lee dressed in a more stylish way that the girls of Synergy. “I never thought I'd be proud to be Metrosexual.”

They began by meeting with Embassy Suites executives, who explained they wanted the new uniforms to be like Embassy Suites – upscale but fun. Above all the uniforms had to be practical. They again emphasized the importance of getting input from the employees.

As Lee and Sean began talking to the employees, it became clear the employees did not want a huge change.

Lee was concerned about deciding on a conservative approach. “Perhaps the employees want something flashy. They just don't know it.”

He needn't have worried.

Team Synergy

Synergy also met with the executives and interpreted their comments differently. Allie said, “The executives want style, panache, and fun.” She was determined this would not be a small tweaking but, rather, a complete overhaul.

And then she tried to talk the suite keepers into wearing culottes (AKA skorts). “There's no way the men came up with culottes,” said Allie in an interview.

She was right. The men are smart.

It was highly entertaining watching her try to explain what culottes were to the skeptical staff. Allie lectured them about the fashion items, while the staff looked at her like she had culottes hanging from here ears.

After the interviews, the Allie and Roxanne love fest continued when they sat down in a conference room to look over their notes and began working on their designs. “It's like we're co-PMs,” said Allie.

Then Ivanka Trump came in and asked them who they chose to be PM, and they said they hadn't decided. Ivanka thought that was ridiculous and pressed them on it. So Allie took the title, but throughout the task and boardroom, she did whatever she could to avoid the responsibility.

Synergy was so far from the mark that Allie actually said, “It's more important that they be stylish than functional.” Does she not get that these people work for a living?

Allie and Roxanne, talked with the front desk staff. The staff did not like the current pants in the uniform, but still wanted to be in pants. Allie insisted on skirts.

Fashion Show

The next day came the fashion show. The employees gathered in a room, and models strutted down the runway wearing the new uniform. First, Gold Rush's Bellmen, then Synergy's. Next Gold Rush's Suite keepers, followed buy Synergy's. And so on.

Synergy's designs were absolutely terrible.

Gold Rush's Bell uniform featured. Lee and Sean worked with the Bell staff to understand what they wanted. As a result, they designed a uniform that could adapt the wide ranging seasons in New York. They designed it to be practical with an and overcoat, removable liner, multiple pockets, and other features

Synergy's Bell uniform featured a tight, fitted quasi jacket with short sleeves. The cuffs flared up and out about 1.5” from the sleeve.

Gold Rush’s front desk uniform featured a nice, comfortable pants and matching jacket.

Synergy’s front desk uniform included a tight fitted skirt and a scarf.

The Synergy chef uniform was a complete disaster. It was gold and shiny. It was utterly ridiculous for making omelets in the morning for exhausted business people.

The only chef should be wearing anything like that is one of the Greatest Chef in the world. Iron Chef Chen Kenichi. Unless the Embassy Suites GM is going to start every day taking a huge bit out of a yellow bell pepper, this uniform is ridiculous. But it's not the worst they did.

As Sean said, “The cast of Dynasty called. They want their shoulder pad pads back.”

Allie put the suite keepers in gold culottes and gold shirts that had shoulder pads and giant puffy sleeves. Now, we are not talking about Seinfeld Puffy Shirt sleeves. That would have been an improvement. Instead, they had short sleeves and the upper arms puffed up like a weather balloon.

Do you really think these folks:

should be wearing this?

And more importantly, do they?

Sean and Lee smiled when their models strutted on the cat walk. They smiled even more when they saw the Synergistic disaster Allie and Roxanne wrought.

When the results came through, 83 people preferred Gold Rush's outfits. Just 37 liked Synergies offerings.

And in the follow-up interview, Sean dedicated the victory. “Tammy, baby, that was for you darling.”


For their winning designs, Gold Rush won a dinner at Aquavit with Ivanka Trump and Donald Trump Jr.

We learned a few interesting things.

Donald Trump Sr. wears a pink bath robe.

Ivanka got away with a lot more than Don Jr. did growing up because she's a girl.

While acknowledging you can't go to Mar-A-Lago every year without being a bit spoiled, according to Don Jr., Trump Sr. didn't give them just anything they wanted. In college, they had $300/month allowance. If they wanted to spend more, they had to work. Sure, $300/month may seem like a lot, but when their father is a billionaire, it's practically a Ramen diet.

When Trump Sr. hires people, he looks for people that are tough and solid. They need to have high integrity and passion for their work. He doesn't like show boats. If you are going to brag or talk about how good you are, you better be able to back it up.

Don Jr. described him as a blue collar guy with a huge balance sheet.

When Trump Sr. gets home, he just wants to watch TV, drink a giant glass of milk, and eat a cheeseburger.

We also had confirmation that Sean has a crush on Tammy. They talked about getting together when the show was over. He considered giving her his diamond from his reward following an earlier episode.

The Boardroom

Back at the suite, Allie made it clear that she still did not get it. “It sucks because we totally nailed it.” I'm not sure what show Allie was watching, but it wasn't the Apprentice.

The comments from the staff that went along with the voting were perfectly clear. The Synergy clothes looked completely impractical. The fabrics looked uncomfortable. These were not clothes someone could work in. One of the Suite Keepers noted that these outfits may look good on the models, but there is no way they would look good on other body types.

So that night, Allie and Roxanne prepared for the boardroom. They talked about how good their designs were. They talked about how much they liked working with each other. They talked about how they are such good friends. Roxanne crawled into Allie's bed and they hugged and consoled each other over the possibility that one of them would go home the next day.

In the boardroom, they started presenting a united front.

Trump asked Allie what went wrong, and she said, “Nothing went wrong.” Allie felt they took a bit of a fashion risk they were sure the staff would love, and they just missed.

Ivanka grew frustrated at how clueless Allie seemed to be. “Do you know why chefs wear white uniforms?” she asked Allie. “So they can bleach them and keep them clean.” She explained there was absolutely no way they could do that with the Synergy uniforms. The Synergy uniforms would have to be single use.

Ivanka also explained how ridiculous the puffy sleeves would be on a woman with larger arms.

After some more questions, Allie and Roxanne began turning on each other. Roxanne explained that if she was project manager she would have put the front desk staff in pants like they wanted. Allie said Roxanne never brought that up. They argued about whether or not she did.

Roxanne complained about how Allie treated their designer, and that Allie did not respect the experts. Allie said she had to because the designer screwed up and Roxanne would have let him get away with it.

Allie said Roxanne cannot get along with project managers. She said Roxanne could never get along with Tammy while she herself could.

And the fights and screaming went on like that. Allie and Roxanne had a united, dishonest, and manipulative front through out the season, but now it fell apart. They snake bit its own tail and began swallowing.

Trump got sick of it. He fired them both for the disloyalty they showed to one another. He said losing is a terrible thing that can undermine a friendship. “You lost and went at each other. I'm really disappointed.”

Of course he didn't seem to give them much choice, but that's beside the point. After that disastrous performance, they needed to go. Their behavior throughout the series showed they were clearly not Apprentice material.

Their cab ride of shame showed them back in their own dynamic. Allie commented on the project and Trump and what he was missing, etc. After about 30 seconds, she turned to Roxanne, who said they were still friends.

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