2005-05-20

Apprentice 3 Final: Kendra Wins


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Well, this finale didn't have quite the fanfare and star power of Apprentice 2, and I for one was thankful.

Instead the third season finale was really a live board room with clips from the season and some fluff interspersed throughout.

In the battle between Kendra and Tana, Trump and Co. went to great lengths to make this appear close ... a tough call right down to the wire. My gut tells me Trump came into tonight knowing he was going to hire Kendra.

In Tana's favor, she had a tremendous run of success, was very creative and energetic. Up until the last two missions she really proved adept at motivating her team. To her detriment, she was a caustic wench during the final mission - denigrating her team at every turn. Trump had other practical matters; not giving the American flag to the Governor of NY, etc., but disloyalty was the fatal flaw.

The only rip they came up with on Kendra was that she stayed under the radar too long, being the last of the Candidates to step up to be Project Manager. Reiterating my point from early Apprentice posts - I think that was a wise strategy. This season featured more than its fair share of wild card personalities and styles. Each week PM's ran the risk of inadvertantly taking a bullet for one of their loose cannons.

Here's the surprise when it came to Tana: By the end of last week's episode, it was ultra-clear that her general weakness was her lack of professional demeanor, and a specific problem would be how she treated her team members during the final mission. Somehow Tana wasn't able to figure this out, and didn't get any solid advice because she did nothing to carry herself in such a way as to refute those liabilities. Heck, Chris figured it out, and knew to be professional in how he handled it, and he's a meathead! Instead it was almost as if Tana wanted to take one last opportunity to cement those perceptions in the minds of Trump, George and Carolyn. If that was the goal, it worked.

One point of contention arose over the Pontiac Solstace mission. The teams were tasked with developing a brochure for the hot, new car. In that mission the teams were stressed time-wise, being almost forced to pull an all-nighter. Yet there were Tana and Craig, calling it a night with the actual creation of the brochure barely started. Kendra soldiered on through the night, coming up with a creative piece that Pontiac is actually using to this day.

Last night as Trump was questioning why Kendra allowed her team to take credit and bringing up that Tana had slept through half of the task, Tana went myth-buster. Turns out Kendra didn't do it all. Tana was the one who came up with the idea to make the brochure round! And to see her carry on you'd have thought she came up with the cure for cancer. She was whooping and hollering, and pointing at Team Trump and ... like I said, pretty much confirming that she is classless.

Point is, round was nice. But if you put a picture of a turd on the front of it, round or not, the folks from Pontiac probably won't be very impressed. On that task, Kendra created an edgy, cool theme based on the emotions that the Solstace had inspired in their test group. Her creation stood in stark contrast to Net Worth's matter-of-fact presentation.

For all the talk of how well Tana did until late in the game, I believe one key fact was not brought. Tana's decline coincided with the mission in which she and Kendra were separated. For several missions prior to that point, Tana was riding Kendra's coat-tails.

In the end, Trump said that he couldn't stand disloyalty, and he hired Kendra as his first female Apprentice. The question that remains: will he ever hire a non college-degreed Apprentice?

It was also neat to see what Bill and Kelly, the two previous Apprentices, or would that be Apprenti?, have been up to. Bill was renewed for another year which is no surprise. IMHO he's been the biggest business stud of all three seasons.

Kendra will do well, but I think creativity is her game. She's less CEO, and more VP-Marketing. If they find the right niche for her, I could see her kicking butt at Trump International.

Overall, though, I think this season has to go down as a big disappointment. Kendra was quality, and Bren was quality, though not very skilled. Tana was interesting, but hardly awe-inspiring as a potential Apprentice. This was a far cry from season 1 when you had at least five candidates that you could reasonably hope for and picture doing great things for Trump. This time it seemed to take forever to weed out the dead weight.

Over at NBC they are promising a heavyweight group for the next season. I can't wait!

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