Apprentice: Boardroom of the Long Knives

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Trump - Apprentice 4Wow! This one changed the landscape at Apprentice.

First of all, the two most over-used business cliches on the Apprentice: 1. "Step up to the plate." 2. "At the end of the day." In my college days we used to watch Bob Newhart and play "Bob!" Today you could watch Apprentice, substitute these two phrases and accomplish the same thing. Enough said.

This week's episode started with Jenn M returning to the suite to mixed reaction from her fellow Capital Edge-ers. After the women had their weekly round of "OK, let's put it all behind us, and now we're going to do awesome from this point forward!" *hugs* the teams were told to choose PM's and meet in the boardroom. We the audience had learned last week that a re-structuring was on the agenda.

In typical brutal Trump fashion, each PM had to jettison three players and send them to the other team. Alla, Capital Edge's PM dumped Rebecca, Jenn M and Marshawn. From Excel, Josh dispatched Clay, Markus and Adam. At this point, a note. The bulk of these decisions were purely personal. Josh was fortunate that he didn't get along with the least effective players on his team. Alla's emotional blindness caused her to get rid of two of her team's strongest performers in Rebecca and Marshawn.

The teams were tasked with creating and running an interactive event in order to boost sales at a Dick's Sporting Goods. Again, the measuring stick was to be, percentage change in sales from normal for that day.

Sometimes it is better to venture outside your comfort zone. Never was that more apparent than on this task. On paper, Team Excel was a dream team compared to Capital Edge.

Unfortunately, the men went with their interest and chose a baseball theme. But, the means to an end, the event that was lure in prospective customers became the end, as James and Mark devoted their time to teaching baseball in the batting cage. Jenn M, boasted of her sales prowess early in this episode but, true to form, contributed nothing of value. PM Josh was nowhere to be seen once this thing got going.

Capital Edge on the other hand, went with a golf theme, something they all admitted they knew nothing about other than that the game is a big draw. With little knowledge or experience, their team's goal was simple - Sell! As luck would have it, that was also the goal of this task.

The results: A hole-in-one for Capital Edge who boosted their department's sales 74%! while Excel struck out. Not only did they not boost sales, Excel succeeded in creating such a distraction that they actually lowered their department's return by 34%.

The Donald was not pleased, and Bill Rancick (sitting in for George) and Carolyn were merciless in prodding the losers in the boardroom. Josh attempted to pawn the responsibility off on Jenn M as the self-proclaimed sales expert. Jenn blamed Josh for letting their team's overall effort shift from their original plan to a less sales-conducive event. The remaining team members sensed the battle consolidating and tried to stay out of the way, joining in at blaming either Josh or Jenn.

As for choosing who to bring to the boardroom, Trump took the ball out of Josh's hands. He sent Rebecca and Marshawn back to the suite as everyone including Carolyn and Bill agreed that the two women had put forth exceptional effort. Brian was also sent back as he had immunity.

While Josh, Jenn, James and Mark waited outside, a befuddled Trump team searched for a culprit. It wasn't that it was hard to blame someone. With the enormity of the loss and the horrendous effort, it was hard NOT to blame someone. When the four returned, the Josh - Jenn battle continued while James and Mark laid low, speaking only when spoken to. Their ploy didn't work, nor did any of Josh or Jenn's arguements. Abruptly, Trump fired all four!

The funniest clip of the night showed the four fired candidates squished into the back of the cab. Whereas the departing player offers some parting words (or a song in Danny's case - season 3), these four weren't saying a word.


Here's what got lost behind Excel's implosion: Capital Edge is a disaster. Markus miraculously continues to dodge opportuniites to shoot himself in the foot, but it's only a matter of time. Clay is still difficult to work with. Alla and Felishia are fair, but are not long shots to make it to the end. Excel on the other hand is strong. The boardroom revealed that the team probably lost its four weakest players this time. Rebecca, Marshawn and Brian form a strong remaining nucleus.

I got my wish, as Josh and James finally moved to the forefront and then right out the door. I still think, had this not been in James' personal interest wheelhouse, the James might have been a strong candidate. I can't say the same for Josh. At a time when his team needed a leader who was staying focused on the big picture, he was MIA while their event de-railed.

Strong candidates: I'm sticking with Rebecca and Randall. Rebecca was somehow able to shine amidst her team's failure. If there was any tarnish left from her previous boardroom close calls, it's gone now. Poor Randall is still handcuffed in the middle of a dysfunctional team. So far, he's managed to escape harm, but his team's dynamic is preventing him from showing his full game.

Though she joined Rebecca in earning favor with the Donald despite being involved in a dismal effort, I'm still not convinced. Marshawn is intelligent. I'm just not sure if she is assertive enough to handle all that Trump will eventually throw at the candidates.

Coming out of this task, I'm uncertain of Brian's standing. His teammates agreed that along with Rebecca and Marshawn he had done a great job on sales. This was not echoed strongly by the Donald. He merely said that Brian was being sent back to the suite because he had immunity. It is unclear what Brain's fate would have been if that hadn't been the case. But, he did perform well as PM last week, so I don't see him departing anytime soon.

Alla, Feleshia, Clay and Andy are weak, and unless they remain teamed up and win, my guess is that the next couple of firings will come from this group.

Markus remains a definite "no." As previously mentioned, he's doing a good job at staying out of his own way, but the group is thinning, and hiding won't remain a viable strategy much longer.

Apprentice-Donald v. Apprentice-Martha
On the Martha version in recent weeks, one team sold no Wedding Cakes in one of their sales tasks, and in a redecorating task one team didn't finish and was still waiting for furniture to arrive when the task ended. On the Martha version this was handled like any other task. The failure was analyzed and someone was fired. Well, not really fired. They were said, "Goodbye" to and got a nice little note from Martha Stewart.

This week on Trump's version we saw a more realistic version of what happens when a team doesn't even make a reasonable effort at accomplishing the task at hand. No mercy.


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