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Business Lessons from Celebrity Apprentice (ep. 2)

Celebrity ApprenticeIt’s always fun to watch the beginning of each Apprentice episode. When the candidates return from the boardroom and greet everybody it’s either to wild celebration or muted disdain. Or even a combination of both. This week I felt myself cringing even before Omarosa opened the door to the suite where the rest of the players anxiously awaited the return of the boardroom survivors. Every time she opened her mouth I just wanted to slap her. Ah, the joys of watching someone who thinks more highly of themselves than they ought.

It’s great how many business lessons can be found in a single episode. But what I find amazing is that you often find the wrong lessons. Things that shouldn’t be true, but are. These are not so much lessons you want to take away and say “I want to do that” but lessons to store somewhere to refer back and say, yeah, that’s how it is sometimes. Of course this brings me to…

Business Lesson One: When the leader is clueless a strong team can still bring success

I can’t say how disappointed I was at Gene Simmons performance Thursday night. I really thought this guy really had a shot at winning. Now I’m not so sure. Is he smart? Oh, yeah. Is he a leader? I’m not so sure anymore. In fact by all appearances Stephen Baldwin was project manager again. It was Stephen who came up with the concept and directed the video spot. I think the only decision Gene made was to pull Stephen off the street since it was obvious they couldn’t shoot “on location”. (Oh, that reminds me. I have a funny story about Star Trek and “on location”. Maybe someone can coax it out of me.)

I think the worst part about Gene’s leadership is he didn’t really utilize his team. He’s probably a great businessman on his own but not really a leader that can motivate others. But maybe this was just one of those tasks that there wasn’t enough jobs to go around. Ultimately they had the far better commercial than the other and they deserved to win. But had they lost, Gene would have been on the hot seat. Not just for losing but for another mistake that was just truly jaw dropping. Which brings us to…

Business Lesson Two: Don’t insult the powers above you

Gene was unbelievably stupid in how he talked to Trumps daughter Ivana. Not only did he brush her off when she inquired about the task he proceeded to insult her professionalism. Was it a sexist comment? I think so. It shows that he believes that the girl-bond is stronger or more important than business ethics. Basically he implied that she is not professional enough to do what her job entails and instead will go spilling secrets to her girlfriends (presumably over a pillow fight while dressed in nighties. Wait… let me hold that thought for a second.)

It’s clear that Gene has never seen an episode of The Apprentice. What I wonder is if he has ever worked with women before in a professional situation. It will be interesting to see how he works with the other women once the teams get mashed up. Anyway, I’m certain this puts Gene on Ivana’s radar.

Interestingly, Gene made another mistake that actually didn’t hurt him at all, though it did somewhat piss off the people he was working for. Which leads us to…

Business Lesson Three: Know what your client expects

Gene made the mistake of not meeting with the client to get an understanding of what they were looking for. He didn’t want to waste time in meetings and wanted to get right to work. Fortunately for him they were able to give the client what they wanted anyway, but had they missed the mark this mistake alone would have gotten Gene fired.

Always know what the client’s expectations are. Yeah, meetings can suck and they take away from progress, but for the most part you won’t know how to move forward correctly until you’ve sat down with the people hiring you. Don’t neglect this important part of the process. Because even if you get it right, you can still have done it wrong. Which leads us to…

Business Lesson Four: Sometimes even the winners need to be reigned in.

Did you notice that in the boardroom before they even got to discussing the results Trump jumped right in and started hammering on Gene? It seemed a bit out of order but if you think about it, there was a reason. Trump already knew that Gene wasn’t going to get fired. They had produced a superior video and the winning team was already known to Trump and Ivana and co.

But Gene needed to be thumped. He made so many mistakes that Trump had to use this time to knock him down a peg. After all, once they started talking about the results he knew the focus would be on the losing team.

But winning isn’t always enough. And the leader, even after a win, sometimes has to be put in their place. Bosses should always give credit where it is due, but just because you get a win doesn’t make you immune from your mistakes. In fact when mistakes are ignored just because of a victory it often leads to arrogance and sooner or later a crashing loss. Best to take care of business while you can. Enjoy the victory, but look for wholes that can be filled in to make the team stronger.

And before you think this is an All-Gene-All-The-Time post, we’ll move on to…

Business Lesson Five: If you can’t give a reason for you to be on the team – don’t expect to stick around.

Celebrity Apprentice Nadia

Why was Nadia fired? Did she lose the task? Did she do anything wrong? No, not really.

Well, yes, she did. She didn’t fight. She didn’t contribute. She didn’t give a reason for her to be there. Was she the right person to be fired? I’d say no, not for this task, but then she did appear to be a weak link on the team. She really coudn’t provide a reason for herself to be there, let alone to stay for another week.

Look, if you can’t find your role then don’t expect to stay. In business you have to make your mark. You have to give people a reason to want to keep you around. If you fail to do that you might as well not even be there. And now Nadia isn’t.

That sums up another week of business lessons. What did you learn?

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