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Business Lessons from Celebrity Apprentice (ep. 3)

Celebrity ApprenticeThis show keeps getting more and more interesting. It’s funny because here we have a bunch of people who are so successful and therefore so self confident in their own abilities that they think they are “king”. I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a display of misplaced arrogance than what Gene Simmons displayed on Thursday night. He was so confident in himself, yet so far off the mark.

Which, of course, brings us to…

Business Lesson One: Even if the client is wrong, they are still right.

In the boardroom Gene was adamant that the Kodak people were wrong about their marketing campaign. Heck, he didn’t even meet with them because he assumed he would know better than them.

OK, so there is some fairness in that statement. Companies such as Kodak go to marketing teams because, well, the marketing teams know more about marketing than the company does. But to say that their vision is wrong is, well, wrong.

But let’s say Gene was right. Let’s say that ink wasn’t the direction the company should be headed in. Let’s say that despite reinventing themselves for the digital medium the company didn’t have a clue as to what it stood for anymore. If that were the case, it’s still not up to the marketing team to reinvent the company, unless that is what they have asked for. When a client has a specific goal or plan it’s up the the marketing team to interpret that vision and make it happen. If they ordered meatloaf and you give them steak, you got it wrong, not them.

Business Lesson Two: Shut up and listen.

What good does it do to go and hear the company vision that you are supposed to interpret if you won’t let them tell you. Nelly was so busy talking about, well, I really don’t know what she was talking about, but she was talking. She kept interrupting when she should have been listening.

Partly because of her, and partly because of Gene, their whole team missed the mark. They didn’t focus on what the client wanted them to focus on. They were thinking printers when Kodak was thinking ink. Sometimes the very best thing one can do is to keep quiet and let the other person talk. If you’re thinking about what you’re going to say then you’re probably not listening enough.

Listening is an important job function that people who feel important fail to do. But it’s crucial to good business, regardless of your position, authority or job function.

Business Lesson Three: Stuff happens. Recover fast.

Sometimes bad things happen and they are not necessarily anyone’s fault. Was Stephen to blame when the table tipped and they lost all their data? No, not really. It was just of of those accidents that happen.

So instead of looking to point the finger at someone (in this case Stephen, who made an easy scapegoat), the best thing to do is focus, recover and move forward. This team did a decent job of recovering, but not a spectacular one. And sometimes that’s all you got. Don’t let stuff stand in the way, move forward any way you can and get the job done, even if not perfect.

Business Lesson 4: Lose the weak links (and it’s not always those you don’t like).

The weakest link on any team is not always the person you don’t like. They may be annoying, they might be wrong a lot and they may even be a weak member, but when there are others that clearly bringing the team down, those are the ones you want to dump.

There are a lot of things to consider when dealing with individuals of a team; performance, personality, commitment, etc. and none are necessarily more important than another. But what you don’t want to base a team member’s worth on is how much you personally like them or not. On any given task know who the weak performers are and eliminate them if you can. Just keep personal stuff out of it.

Gene Simmons Fired

Business Lesson 5: If the boss gives you a way out, take it.

It’s not everyday that you can lead a team to a spectacular failure and stick around to tell about it. But when the opportunity arises, when the boss is trying to give you a way out of your hole, take it.

Gene was incredibly stupid to have Omarosa (who he didn’t like) and Jennie (who wasn’t responsible for the loss in any way) come back to the boardroom with him. It was clear that Trump wanted Gene to stay. It was obvious that he wanted to lay the blame of the loss on Nely. While she was only partly responsible, it was enough for Trump to use her as a scapegoat in order to let Gene stay.

But Gene, in all of his smarts, can be dumb. The boss was giving him an opportunity to allow someone else to take responsibility and instead, Gene tried to place blame on two people where it didn’t belong. That left only left Trump one choice, and that was to fire Gene.

Stoney G deGeyter

Stoney deGeyter is the author of The Best Damn Web Marketing Checklist, Period!. He is the founder and CEO of Pole Position Marketing, a web presence optimization firm whose pit crew has been velocitizing websites since 1998. In his free time Stoney gets involved in community services and ministries with his “bride enjoy” and his children. Read Stoney’s full bio.

2 Responses to Business Lessons from Celebrity Apprentice (ep. 3)

  1. Hmm, Gene gone, half of people who watched the show thought it really sucked for the show. Including me. He was a very interesting character there. I think with him gone the Producers would have their hands full trying to come up with other stuff to entertain.

    Ok, all of the lessons above are great and they apply to the situation. However, Gene wanted out and I think many people understood it clearly. It was more important for him to show the side he showed than sticking around for another few weeks. This is why he chose to take 2 people he knew would not get fired. I am not the only one to say that he is a marketing genius.

    An interesting lessons that can be learned from Gene is that in order to be the boss one should not knee down to someone who “is in the upper ups” of him. People are being taught in school that in “corporate path” as if every one HAS to follow one, one who stands above you in the corporate latter is smarter than you and the guy who’s above the other guy is smarter than another. This is why people go through life needed someone else’s opinion or approval.

    Company bosses say “leave your ego outside the door when you come to work as I do the same”. That a complete B.S. In order to be a boss of anything you HAVE TO HAVE a ego and confidence. Those that don’t work for others.

    I thought Gene came up with a better slogan than “knocked out by ink?” that the other team did. I think that if Gene’s trailer had at least 2 signs that said “INK” in huge letters he would win.

    He simply took the opportunity to get out while hot to create some buzz for the KISS projects that are actually coming out right now.

    Stoney, do you really think he didn’t see what Trump was doing for him? Was he blind while everyone saw the path Trump was offering Gene? He is not an idiot. He had a reason to get out. Think about it. He takes to the boardroom one person who is definitely not getting fired. When Trump makes him pick another person he choses another girl that will NOT get fired.

  2. Stoney G deGeyter
    Stoney deGeyter says:

    I was wondering if Gene wanted off the show, but as a strategy, he didn’t make himself look good at all. In fact he looked silly. I don’t think this was just him playing out a strategy. To see how he interacted with people explaining his concepts was real and, well, embarrassing. He’s a smart guy, but he’s also headstrong. Come to the boardroom loss he might have wanted to go home but I don’t think that was his original plan.