2005-05-16

Apprentice Update: All over but the cryin'?


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OK. On the surface, this contest belongs to Kendra, hands down.

As the final tasks unfolded, we saw Kendra's team rally around her and put together a bang-up Video Game Championship. Michael salvaged the dirty basement and Sony didn't pull out after all. Several of the execs who worked with Kendra had words of praise and offers to hire her!

Over at Chelsea Piers things were not so smooth for the Olympic Promo. Tana denigrated, and condescended to her team throughout this event; to their face, behind their backs, from the line staff all the way up to the Governor of New York; everyone got a helping of Tana's disrespect. In some of the asides Tana often had little "This is a what a leader does in putting up with the little pee-ons," comments that betrayed a very immature way of thinking about leadership.

With the events in the books, the tired girls returned to the Suite one last time and Tana was surprised to discover that Kendra had actually worked with her team. It was a totally foreign idea. What's more, Tana came away thinking that she had gotten the upper hand in pulling of her task nearly single-handedly. Again, this totally misses the point of a task designed to find out how the candidates lead others.

Still, in the little snippet of boardroom, after the girls had stepped out; Carolyn, George and Trump, despite what they showed during the final tasks, gave us a lame, "Boy this sure is a close one." The last thing we saw was Brian, Kristen, Chris, Danny, Erin and Michael stepping into the boardroom to give their opinions. If it really was close up to this point, that session ought to seal the deal for Kendra.

But, what should be and what will be are two different things, and there are too many variables to say how this will turn out.

Variable 1 - the Selective Editing: Throughout this run of the Apprentice, the producers have been rather transparent in how they edit for dramatic effect. When we see some from a team say something like, "We totally won this task!" you could count on that team losing. The problem is, in the final challenge, the producers don't know who will win. We had Tana turning to the person next to her and saying, "You're looking at the next Apprentice!" Was this included because they're pretty sure Kendra is going to win and they are adding drama? Or was it just a compelling bite? Which leads us to ...

Variable 2 - the Decision Process: We found out after the fact that during Season 1, the Donald had had a pretty good idea that Bill Rancick would win long before the final challenge. In season two we were led to believe that the decision was still up in the air heading into the live final boardroom. This leads us to more variables.

Variable 3 - Guest opinions: On last season's finale, Trump solicited opinions from guests in the audience. If this was designed to create drama, it backfired. By the end, Trump was desperate to find someone besides Amarosa who would back Jennifer. The question is, do these opinions really count, or is that element added purely for show?

Variable 4 - Other factors: During the last mission prior to the interviews, Tana was very nearly fired because Trump and Co. had determined that she didn't have the juice to lead in an organization like Trump, Int'l. This fear was echoed by two of the four executive interviewers. Throughout the final task, Tana demonstrated the lack of refinement, well-roundedness and understanding and respect for others that comes with college.

Kendra claimed, correctly IMO, that she has the total package; Talent, Intelligence and Education. I'm at a loss to think of something Tana brings to the table that Kendra doesn't.

To the very end, Trump has paid lip service to the idea that education doesn't matter. After all, in the final boardroom you have one street-smart and one book-smart member. Yet, circumstances and results have contradicted this more and more as the season wore on, and very clearly so in the final tasks.

I'm sticking with my pick from last week: Kendra.

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