2004-12-16

Apprentice Comments


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I'm a big Apprentice junkie. But, I've avoided commenting on the show here because I jumped in mid-stream in the current season and don't have the long view of someone who has been there from the start. However, as we come down to the final episode, I've got to get some thoughts in.

One other caveat: I'm always cautious when it comes to reality shows. They are edited and engineered for entertainment value, not for accuracy.

Thought 1: I'm dying to know the logic behind the selections for final two. Kelly was an obvious choice going in, and the interviews in the last episode only seemed to confirm that. For the second spot however, it was a free-for-all.

I really get the feeling that at some point Trump decided he wanted a woman against a man in the final. He fired Kevin quickly, and candidly told Sandi and Jennifer that they were competing for the final spot. I'm not arguing with firing Sandy, although she's more likeable than Jennifer. It's the choice between Kevin and Jennifer that I'm curious. Which brings me to ...

Thought 2: I'd love more detail on the interview show. On the second last episode, the final four candidates are interviewed by top executives who advise Donald Trump who in turn will whittle the group down to 2 by the end of the show. The tough thing about the Apprentice is that, although it has been wildly successful, its subject matter can often be not very entertaining to someone who isn't a student of business

The interview show (or half-show in the case of this season) is a great example. We see snippets of questions and snippets of answers. As a businessman, I find myself wanting to hear more of the questions and more of the answers. In addition it'd be nice if we could hear why the interviewers asked those questions and what the answers meant to them. But again, I guess that's not good television.

Thought 3: Does Trump really prefer the ultra-agressive attack-mode executive in his boardroom, or is that just a TV thing? Granted, having someone with the courage to speak their mind is good. Having someone who will get after it when doing their job is good. But for the last two or three weeks we've been treated to several minutes of Jennifer yelling anything and everything that she can think of that is wrong with her opponents, not letting others get a word in, interrupting and being generally rude and disrespectful. There is something to be said for decorum as well.

So we're on to the final round. Kelly is running a polo match and Jen a basketball tournament. And each has three previously fired Apprentice hopefuls working for them.

Thought 4: I'd like to see Trump tweak the helpers a little. This season is even worse than last. I'm not sure if these were the only six that were willing to come back or what. But at least in season 1 he used the last six to be fired so the final two candidates had some quality material to choose from.

I think Trump needs to give the helpers some incentive to do well. Granted, in any organization you are going to have people who don't see or care about the organization's success, but not at the senior management level. The most the two CEO's can hope for is that their helpers will see this as one more chance to shine and improve their own post-Apprentice prospects.

So, here we go! A three-hour Apprentice marathon tonight. They left things looking bad for Kelly and Jen last week, of course. As a Kelly fan, I'm concerned. Kelly's problem is the whether which he can hardly be held responsible for. On the other hand, Jennifer might lose Chris Weber (which, everyone knows that Chris Weber disappears down the stretch) because she didn't take a bigger role in communications with the NBA. One would think that this is bad for Jennifer. But, once again remembering how they engineer these things for entertainment, it suggests that there will be some sort of dramatic developement. Perhaps Jen will "save the day" even though it shouldn't have needed saving in the first place.

My money is still on Kelly. Jen has no imagination and doesn't really get it. She has an attorney's drive and ability to dig into the details as needed. But she doesn't seem able to see the broad strokes that are necessary to make a project go, much less to execute or drive the execution of those broad strokes. She has been riding on the coattails of others and now finds herself in a position where that isn't possible.

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