Apprentice Week 09: Blood on the Walls

For the first time this season, Trump got it wrong. He made a mistake with the person he chose to fire.

That will happen more often as we careen towards the finale. There are now just eight candidates left, and some of them are quite strong. Theoretically, the remaining candidates should make few mistakes. They will also start to play more strategically, trying to walk that fine line between wanting to win the task, wanting the win the whole enchilada, and wanting to get rid of the weak players.

By the way, if you want to see a Blog that is the complete opposite of mine in terms of style, check our Trump’s Blog on NBC.

As always, spoilers ahead.
Gold Rush (finally) defeated Synergy by almost 2 to 1. Lee led his team to victory for the first time in 5 weeks.

So this week, Trump fired Andrea from Synergy. He should have fired Allie. Allie made critical errors, but she did one thing well – she got along with her team.

Trump introduced the task by bring the candidates to the Trump International Hotel and Tower and began drawing comparisons between the luxury hotel and Ellis Island, as representative of the same dream. I’m still unclear how the Trump International Hotel handles guests with TB, however.

Table of Contents
  1. Lessons Learned
  2. The Task
  3. Team Gold Rush
  4. Team Synergy
  5. The Boardroom
  6. Why Trump is Wrong
  7. Ties on T-Shirts
  8. Hair
  9. Lee
  10. Attacks on Tivo

Lessons Learned

    • Be on time. Sometimes when you miss the boat, you really miss the boat.
    • Get an early start. Success at sales sometimes means talking to the customer before anyone else has a chance.
    • Depersonalize conflict. Don’t get flustered when people attack. The times you most want to get angry are the times you can least afford it.
    • Don’t give up. When an attack comes, be prepared to counter attack. Have a core message and always come back to it.

    The Task

    The teams had to create a commemorative brochure for Ellis Island, and then sell it. They were to take their own pictures and write their own copy. The team that generated the most revenue would win. For details, see the official Task Dossier.

    By the time the dust settled, Gold Rush had sales of $1,548.68 while Synergy had sales of just $848.40 worth.

    Gold Rush

    Lee, who has been in the final board room each of the last three times there has been one, led Gold Rush.

    He demonstrated a hands off management style. Tarek and Michael said they had expertise in photography and writing, and Lee had confidence in them. He sent them off to Ellis Island to do the research and collect the content.

    Meanwhile, Charmaine said she was good with inside sales. Lee stayed in the suite with her to look for bulk sales opportunities. He fed the leads to Charmaine, and she made the calls.

    I am no fan of Charmaine. She is generally a weak player and usually survives because project managers have made poor board room choices in the past. But I have to give her credit. She took those leads and worked the phone. She spent the day making hundreds of cold calls to people she didn’t know trying to sell large bundles of a souvenir brochure that didn’t exist.

    Cold calls are hard.

    She only got one sale out of the effort, though, and that was the next day. She sold 100 brochures to a customer for .85 each.

    It’s fortunate she wasn’t successful. Each team had 750 brochures to sell. Had she successfully sold all 750 brochures for even the higher price of $1 each, the team would have lost to Synergy. In the end, it was Gold Rush’s retail efforts that put them over the top.

    Lee did have the fear of loss. He knew he was at war with Synergy. He says, “I’ll do anything to win.”

    That anything included getting his team up at dawn on the sales day to go sell brochures. He knew there would be a long line of people waiting to get on the boat for Ellis Island, and this captive audience was his primary customer base. When Gold Rush got there, they had huge lines all to themselves and began selling brochures while it seemed Synergy was still in bed.

    Charmaine did not approve of Lee’s leadership style. In fact, she was resentful of the win. She felt Lee didn’t do anything on the task. She felt he let Tarek take the reigns of the brochure and that the creative vision was his.

    But Lee had final say. And Lee made the correct delegation decisions. So Lee walked away with his second win as project manager (the first was the Gillette task).

    Team Synergy

    Allie, the project manager of Synergy took a different, hands on approach. She took the whole team over to Ellis Island to explore. They took the official tour, while Tammy took detailed notes.

    Andrea, helpful as always, quickly complained that the tour was a waste of time. She demanded Allie disclose the entire plan and split up tasks. That makes sense, since she claims in this episode to be an operations specialist.

    She also claimed in the past that she is an expert graphics designer. She claims that early on in this task, too, though she later disavows that in the boardroom.

    Based on her early claims, however, Allie put Andrea in charge of the look of the brochure. That was a bad idea, especially since Andrea’s poor graphics skills were the main reason Synergy lost the Grape Nuts competition several weeks ago.

    Tammy also made a major mistake on this task. Those detailed and critical notes she took on the tour? She left them on the island.

    Tammy and Allie jumped off the boat to go collect them, and, of course, the boat left Ellis Island with out them. They had to wait 2 hours for the next one.

    This was Tammy’s mistake, and it was a big one. But why did Allie get off the boat, too? She easily could have sent Sean or Roxanne with Tammy to look for the notes, and gone back to Manhattan with Andrea to make sure the brochure came out right.

    Instead, she was stuck on Ellis Island.

    When she got back to the City, Andrea already had the brochure well under way, and it did not look good. Allie made some suggestions, Andrea got mad, and left.

    The next day, they got to Battery Park – to that great captive audience – only to find out that Gold Rush beat the to it. They tried selling brochures, but most of the people who would have bought one, had already purchased one from Gold Rush. Allie, and Synergy, were too late.

    The decamped to Ellis Island at Roxanne’s suggestion and tried selling at the attraction, and they did a little better, but they still encountered Gold Rush’s customers. Towards the end of the day, Andrea suggested bulk sales, and claimed an expertise in the field. Unfortunately, there was no time to switch strategies.

    The Boardroom

    Allie did a much better job of preparing for the board room. She determined that Andrea was the reason they lost. She was a poor salesperson, and she had a poor attitude. She quickly got Tammy and Roxanne on board with this assessment, and tried to convince Sean. Sean smartly stayed above the fray. And too his credit, he doesn’t try to hide this from his team members. He told Allie he wouldn’t stab anyone in the back.

    Allie was determined to get rid of Andrea. She planned to tear her apart. After the attack, she says, “There will be blood on the walls.”

    In the board room, things go pretty much according to plan. Andrea and Roxanne go after Andrea. Tammy does to a lesser extent. Sean tries to avoid much of the conflict, but does suggest Allie is the one who should be fired. He also says that no one successfully adapted to the different personalities.

    Allie cites the lousy graphics in the brochure and says, “I’m gone for two hours, and then see it’s a shoddy job.” Of course the reason she was gone for two hours was she missed the boat.

    She claims Andrea never suggested bulk sales until the end of the task, despite her expertise in the area.

    Andrea disavowed her expertise in bulk sales and graphics. She said her expertise is in operations, and something to the effect of, “I’m not the best salersperson; I hire great salespeople. I’m not the best graphics designer; I hire great graphics designers.”

    Allie claims Andrea had very poor sales on this task and the 7-11 task the week before. She claimed they won the GM task early on not because of Andrea’s leadership, but in spite of it.

    Allie put on a stellar boardroom performance. At the beginning, Trump had a lot of confidence in Andrea. By the end, Allie had convinced Trump to fire Andrea.

    He fired her because there was no chemistry on the team and he felt that Andrea’s personality was the reason.

    He felt it could be a supportive environment. Trump told Andrea, “I don’t see this group as being a vile and vicious group looking to get you fired.” Apparently, Trump didn’t see the Blood on the Walls plan Allie developed.

    Why Trump is Wrong

    The poor decisions of the project manager are why Synergy lost this task. Because she missed the boat, wrongly assigned Andrea to the graphics, screwed up the retail sales strategy, and failed to even consider bulk sales, Allie should have been fired.

    He fired Andrea for not getting along with the rest of the team. But she did get along with Sean. And she seemed to get along with Tammy.

    I’m not fan of Andrea, but her main failing on this task was her boardroom strategy. She couldn’t handle the criticism well, and didn’t mount an adequate defense. She never responded to Allie’s allegations, and never counter-attacked. She just claimed Allie was lying. But she didn’t have the Eye of the Tiger.

    I understand Trump’s decision, an perhaps Andrea wouldn’t have lasted more than a few weeks, but this week, is should have been Allie’s turn in the Yahoo! Jobs cab.

    Synergy lost for these reasons:

    1. No early Bulk Sales Strategy
    2. The PM missed the literal boat during the preparation day
    3. The PM missed the figurative boat that morning and didn’t get out early enough

    Synergy did not lose because of an inferior brochure. They lost because the Gold Rush made better sales decisions.

    Ties on T-Shirts…

    …Are stupid. No one looks good wearing a tie on top of a T-Shirt or non-collared shirt. It looks lame. It looks sleazy. It looks like your trying too hard to look cool. It looks like you are pretending to be “Not the Man” while still wearing a tie.

    It’s not jaunty. It’s not funny. It’s not silly. It’s not classy. It’s not professional. It’s stupid.

    And when the tie happens to be a big fat tie with the stars and stripes all over it, it looks even worse.

    What every possessed Synergy to wear that ridiculous uniform while trying to sell a classy brochure to tourists on their way to visit what for many is solemn ground? Ellis Island is a place wear people could now envision the American Dream and a new life away from the war, famine, discrimination, and disease they faced in their home country. People embarked on new lives here. People died here. People were sent away from here.

    And Synergy dressed like they were selling tickets at the Shecky Green Presidential Library.

    Gold Rush dressed in a more sensible manner. They all looked like college students from Up with People, but it wasn’t obnoxious.

    Trump hair

    This week, instead of Carolyn, George, or Bill, Trump’s own children supervised the candidates.

    Shockingly, Donald Jr. inherited his Dad’s hair problems.


    Lee is doing very well. Not only did he win this week, but he displayed the political acumen that will take him far. At the end of last week’s episode, Charmaine made a late, last minute defense of Leslie as they were all leaving the board room. She called on Trump to not fire Leslie, but to fire Lee instead.

    It didn’t work.

    But when Lee got back up to the Suite, he was all smiles. He didn’t let it bother him. He told Charmaine not to worry about it, and he didn’t take out any frustration on her.

    He appeared to completely forgive her for the attack, and bore no ill will. Whether that was genuine or not remains to be seen, but he appears to have his eyes focused on the big prize. He wants it and he is going to get there.

    His people skills will take him far.

    Attack on Tivo

    NBC doesn't liek people like we. I love my Tivo. It changed my life and the way I watch TV forever. Now I watch the Apprentice and other programs when it's convenient for me. And I only watch commercials I want to see -- which meand I can begin to recover from the trauma brought on by the Burger King.

    The networks would love to ban Tivo, but that won't happen just yet. So they are trying the softer approch.

    NBC began a weekly contest this week called Get Rich with Trump! They give away $10,000 in a through a contest. The catch is the contest begin and ends -- local time -- during the show. If you are time shifting, you can't win. Deal or No Deal has a similar contest.

    It's a clever move, and this is the kind of anti-Tivo activity I can support.

    I'd still rather skip the commercials though. But I guess that would mean not watching the Apprentice again.

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