Second Thots

Sometimes one has to step back, take pause, and have some "second thots"

Sunday, November 21, 2004


The Apprentice Watch

An ongoing source of opinion and insight on one of the hottest shows on television.....

Thursday's show, November 18th

This week's show was one in which Donald Trump outdid himself. So too did Mark Burnett and the other decision makers at The Apprentice.

As usual, the boardroom provides for the entertaining climax in an otherwise powerful buildup to the now famous line, "you're fired!" Only this time, there was a twist hinted at before the show the outcome of which we now know as a result of watching until the very last moment.

And it was done brilliantly. Donald Trump himself did his best to mislead us until the dying moments of the episode.

In a boardroom exchange which made it look like Wes was to be this week's casualty, with Trump actually telling him he was just about to turf him, the boss turned around and told Maria "you're fired!" Then, as you're recovering from the surprise of that stunning development, Trump turned around and told Wes, "you're fired too." Two firings in one show!

Again, brilliant. Not only was there ample justification for both decisions but they were made in a way that kept us guessing even after we were made aware of them.

Wes was the obvious choice to be fired from Mosaic. As bad as Maria was, Wes not only allowed her to carry on as she did, but was guilty of a series of errors which led to the project debacle and the dreaded meeting in the boardroom. One of those errors was the boneheaded decision to go into the presentation with Levi's in casual attire without wearing Levi's jeans. They were correctly chastised for that blunder. Wes, what were you thinking?

Wes is another example of a fine young candidate whose current ability to lead exists only in his own imagination. He allowed a subordinate to tell him off. Here's a hint to anyone thinking about appearing on the show the next time around. I'm sure Kwame, last season's finalist, can attest to this. If an employee on your team acts in a way deserving of dismissal, then you dismiss them. No questions asked; no rationalizations made. Trump and his advisors at the boardroom table have little patience for a failure to deal with a rogue employee accordingly. A leader needs to have a spine. You don't have one if you can't assert final authority over those you must lead to victory.

Wes' lack of leadership was enough to get him fired. That became evident in the Donald's deliberations in the boardroom, which made it look like Maria was getting off the hook, despite her megalomaniacal and strange attempts to assert her will over the rest of the group. The fact she felt a need to make this week's project her own bizarre obsession might go down as one of the poorer acts of judgement in the history of the show (Yes, I know, there have been many others too). If the ship is going down, why make yourself the captain, alienate everyone else in the process, and go down with it? Only Maria can answer those sorts of questions.

She also serves as an illustration of another rule which needs to be followed for success on the show: you simply cannot allow yourself to be alienated from the rest of the group. Doing so has been a sure indicator to Trump of a person's inability to win the hearts and minds of other team members: a prerequisite for leadership. If a candidate finds herself saying, "I know better than the rest of them," pretty soon they'll be saying it in a taxi cab while leaving Trump Tower. Jennifer might be experiencing that phenomenon some time soon. Maria sealed her fate this week by making sure everyone thought she was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. A control freak on top of already being a freak. Not a formula for success on the show.

While Wes and Maria lacked judgement in the process of getting themselves fired from the show, Donald Trump and the other masterminds at The Apprentice just raised the bar in providing us with continuing surprises and terrific entertainment.

Again, brilliant.

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