2005-09-23

Apprentice 4: First Impressions


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Trump - Apprentice 4Well, the premier of the new Apprentice did not disappoint. The players were agressive right out of the gate, Trump has shown that there will be plenty of surprises, and best of all, this season's Omarosa has already been found and eliminated! Some notes:

// Of course everyone dressed to the 9's for their first meeting with the Donald - no Danny's in this bunch. So what does Trump do? Sends them racing across his golf course in a full sprint, trying to be the first to locate and get to his helicopter. Ties were flying everywhere. Women were ditching their heels. Classic!

// This whole bunch must not have seen or taken seriously previous editions of the Apprentice, because they were breaking the well-known, "unwritten" rules left and right.

// // Markus talked about how he and Trump were "kindred spirits" and how they were going to bond and do business. Really for a second, I thought I might have accidentally stumbled onto some bizarre gay edition of the Bachelor or something. Anyway, in the past, guys who've come onto the show thinking that they were Trump's equal and were going to be buddies with the man have not fared well. Markus and Markus' mouth won't be the exception.

// // Melissa unloaded on her team to Caroline and ultimately paid the price. It's funny when stuff like this happens because Caroline will appear to just patiently listen, but she gets this "I can't believe how hilariously stupid you are" look in her eyes. Unfortunately the person in question usually is hilariously stupid and doesn't notice.

// // Back to Markus - he was indecisive. Big no-no for anyone in this game, but especially bad for the Project Manager. When the men selected him as their leader he balked. At another point he brought his team to a halt and asked if there was anything he should be doing better. He needs to rid himself of this quickly - because if Trump ever witnesses it, he'll crush the Euro-looking dweeb, Markus.

// Even with all of the boardrooms from previous seasons to learn from, Kristi and Melissa, the key players, seemed determined to do themselves in. First Melissa wouldn't shut up. While people have gotten hammered for not speaking up, the rip on Melissa was that she was a negative and disruptive force on her team. Just in case there was any doubt, there was Melissa running her mouth and making matters worse.

Kristi did no better. She started this one with her back to the wall. Melissa was just a general poison the team, but Kristi, the PM, had the most direct links to her team's failure which usually spells doom. So, when the Donald asked her which two people she wanted to bring to the board room she asked if she could bring only one. Man, I thought Trump's head was going to explode. You are taking a big risk when you try to change up the order of things. And when you are already a prime target, you don't want to take that kind of risk moments before Trump is going to fire someone.

// Kristi's mano-a-mano (femano-a-femano? Yes, I know that's not literally what that means) gambit was one of two, interesting individual strategy-related decisions.

Should Kristi have brought a third person into the board room? On the one hand, she escaped and managed to do so without getting on the bad side of anyone else on her team. Still, her survival was far from certain. This is the first time I can remember that Trump took out the generally bad person when he had someone so clearly responsible for their team's loss in the current task. I think she should have brought an ally. No one else on the team was in jeopardy - she could have worked it out with them in advance, and I think doing something like that could even be "spun" (cuz Trump will ask: Why did you bring __?) in a way that the Donald and crew would respect.

The second item involved the victorious men's team, Team Excel. In a new twist this year, the winning PM does not automatically receive immunity from firing the following week. The team has to vote whether or not to give their PM immunity. This week only two men voted in favor of it, so Markus will not receive immunity.

I suspect this has to do with Markus' taking the early lead in the "most unliked guy on the team" race. To be fair however, Markus was weak. Should the men lose next week, it's a good bet that he'll be at least partially responsible.

Most outwardly gave generic reasons. "I don't think anyone should be immune," "Everyone should have an incentive to perform at their best." The only thing is, each one of them hopes to one day be sitting in the victorious PM chair. Somehow I believe they'll feel different when that happens.

The bigger issue is that immunity is an incentive to be PM. Without it, why would you take on that role? Granted, you don't want to be seen as actively dodging the responsibility, but it is for the most part, an opporunity to have your team do a half-baked job and put your neck on the chopping block. The downside far outweighs the upside, especially in the early going.

If I'm in the game, our team is up in the suite right now having a meeting and agreeing how to handle the immunity vote. We would decide in advance that either everyone gets immunity, or no one gets it. Handling it off the cuff like happened yesterday is to be avoided. Your team just won, and instead of enjoying the momentum, you turn right around and do and say things to sow seeds of dissention in the ranks. Have a policy and avoid the conflict.

// As for individual prospects: no one clearly established themself as a competitor to be reckoned with yesterday. I'm pretty sure neither of last night's PM's will win. Kristi wasn't terrible, but she wasn't great, and she's weak in a field of hopefuls that demands strength. Plus, even in surviving the board room she managed to really tick off the Donald. If Melissa weren't such a singularly bad apple, Kristi already be gone.

And, as already mentioned, Markus has the weak style of leadership that Trump hates. Team Excel will be gunning for him, and his initial effort to seduce the Donald with his "kindred spirit," failed.

Can't wait for next week!

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