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Business Lessons from Celebrity Apprentice (Ep 7)

Celebrity ApprenticeThursday sported an episode of The Apprentice that was absolutely fantastic while at the same time pretty depressing. It was, in essence, classic reality show material. While that makes for good TV, you know it’s just not worthy of a show like The Apprentice. The behavior of Omarosa and Piers (mostly Omarosa) was so vile that Trump really should have fired both (or at least Omarosa) on the spot, regardless of how the team performed on the task.

Omarosa stooped to new lows in an attempt to save face but really did nothing more than show how unfit she is for the corporate environment. Amazingly, she made herself look worse than when she was booted off the show several seasons ago. Don’t tell her to go while she’s ahead! She wants to come back and destroy any residue of respect that may have remained. It really is sad. But on with our lessons…

Business Lesson One: Be very careful of what you brag about.

Rarely is boasting, bragging or drawing a line in the sand a good strategy for success. More times than not, these things simply expose you for the fraud that you really are. If you’re not 100% committed or able to be 100% vindicated, keep the bragging to a minimum.

In the opening minutes, Omarosa was seen bragging that she’s “always in control” of what happens with her team. Sorry Nely, but Omarosa engineered your firing. But let’s take that deeper. If Omarosa is always in control, then she just accepted responsibility for engineering the pitiful 1-6 record of her team. She’s the mastermind, the one who gets her way. She’s the disaster master. Good call on that brag, girlfriend.

Of course Piers started off no better by bragging that there is no way he would work on the girls’ team. Well, he didn’t have to work on a girl team per se, but it was just desserts when Trump reorganized the teams and put him and Omarosa together. At that point Piers had to put up or shut up. He shut up. At least for a few minutes.

Keeping your mouth shut is almost always a better strategy than opening it. The proverb that says that it’s better to keep one’s mouth shut and be considered a fool than to open it and remove all doubt certainly applies to many life situations.

Business Lesson Two: Leaders need to stay above the petty stuff

When someone is being petty, it’s very tempting to start fighting back on the same level. A good leader won’t allow that to happen. When you’re in a position of leadership, you have the position of authority already going for you. You only lose that when you stoop down to an attacker’s level.

Why Piers let himself get dragged into a personal insult battle with Omarosa, I’ll never know. To be fair, you could see that he didn’t want to (clearly Omarosa relished the gutter), but he did allow himself to get repeatedly sucked in. Instead, he should have simply walked away, let her do whatever she wanted and ignored her completely. Now if he had any real smarts, he would have made sure their team lost. Trump would have had to fire Omarosa for her behavior and for not bringing in any money to the task.

And that’s the problem with getting sucked in. By putting himself on the same level as Omarosa, Piers put himself in the same position as her – in jeopardy of being fired. Leaders can’t do that. They have the position going for them only until they get sucked into these things, at which point they lose the ability to manage, and they make themselves vulnerable to being fired as well.

Business Lesson Three: Pick your battles… and your battle times.

Some battles can be won but only if fought at the right time. Timing is a critical component to good leadership and management.

Piers needed to understand that when he fired Omarosa. It was apparent she wasn’t going to go away. She’s strong-willed and wanted to save face as much as possible. Going back to the suite wasn’t going to do anything for her. Piers had to understand that no amount of telling her she was fired would make her leave. So while he couldn’t win that battle during the task, he most certainly would have won it in the boardroom.

Timing can make the difference between a win or loss. Never fight a battle you can win at a time that you can’t.

Celebrity Apprentice

Business Lesson Four: Some decisions are tough, but we can’t always avoid them.

Most leaders can’t get out of making the really tough decisions. That’s the nature of the job, and while they don’t relish the role, they understand it’s all part of the process. Trump, on the other hand, was able to avoid making the tough decision of who to fire. Of course, after all is said and done, The Apprentice is still a game governed by rules – rules that are often contrary to a real-world corporate environment. And those rules can be broken.

What really surprised me, though, was when Trump asked each of them if they wanted to resign. I love Trump, but that was one of his weakest moments ever displayed on the show. If only we could all get out of tough decisions like that. But then, if we could, it really wouldn’t be leading.

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