Last Thursday kicked off the new season of The Apprentice. I really believed last season would be the last, but as long as you got another schtick to pull out of your magic bag, perhaps you can generate some new excitement. And that brings us to…
Business Lesson #1: It’s not over until you say it’s over.
Many people in business fail because they give up before they should. A number of times when things were rough for my business, I was ready to throw in the towel. But I could never quite bring myself to call it quits. I always felt like I had more to give and a lot more to gain. And I have to say, I’m glad I never gave into the conventional wisdom during those times.
In business (especially show business) there is some truth to the adage that you should get out while you’re ahead. If you run a business, always have an exit plan. Know when it is that you should pack it in. For me personally, as long as I feel that I have something to contribute, I’m in. Obviously Trump feels the same way about The Apprentice. Each season after the first has sucked more than the previous. But Trump still had something to give and it just may be enough to bring in some fresh blood to a series that seemed to get further and further off track.
But whether the show gets back on track or not is still to be seen. It often seems as if the wrong person is the one that gets fired. Which brings us to…
Business Lesson #2: Doing what’s right isn’t always what’s best for the business.
Last night Trump made the wrong decision in who to fire. But even though he fired the wrong person, it was still the right decision for the business (which is the show, not Trump Enterprises). Omarosa is good TV. People know she’s petty, annoying, aggressive, lacks people skills, and completely self-centered. But that keeps the sparks flying and makes for a more interesting program. Of course that’s if you’re watching it for the entertainment value rather than the business value, and ratings are about entertainment value. Personally I’m for the latter, but I’m sure I’m in the minority.
A few years back for whatever reason, I was reading the credits at the end of the show and I noticed a peculiar disclaimer. While Trump has full authority on who to fire at the end of the day, he gets input from both the producers of the show as well as NBC. They let Trump know what they think he should do for from their perspective (ratings) but let Trump make the final decision. Of course Trump wants somebody qualified to work for him at the end of the show, but up until that point it’s ratings that matter. Which means that sometimes a scapegoat has to be found in order to keep the poor performers that make the show “more interesting” around for a bit longer.
Thursday’s episode was a great example. Was Tiffany any worse than anyone else (aside from Marilu, who was fantastic)? Any one of those women could have called in a favor. Why, then, was Tiffany blamed? Trump needed a scapegoat so he didn’t have to fire the Project Manager, Omarosa. Firing her would have been the right decision, but it certainly isn’t the one that would keep people coming back.
But the reason for Tiffany’s firing does bring us to…
Business Lesson #3: Give it all you have today, otherwise there may be no tomorrow.
I certainly understand the concept of wanting to withhold the big guns for a better time. But when you do that you have to be sure that there will be a better time. I recall reading once that many people who get lost end up dying of dehydration even while they still have water left in their packs. What happens is they ration their water in order to make it last as long as possible, but unfortunately, doing so often makes the water last longer then they do. Rationing makes sense, but you have to balance that with reality.
Gene Simmons went all out calling in as many favors as he could. He could have waited until he was project manager, that would secure his victory for sure. But he knew that his team needed a win now so he pulled in some favors to get that win. It wasn’t just Tiffany that didn’t pull in celebrity favors, it was the whole team. Of course that was basically at Omarosa’s leadership, not wanting to use celebrity to win. But winning is winning and it makes no sense to lose one battle because you’re saving your ammunition for the next. For Tiffany, there is no next battle.
Thus endeth the lessons I learned from The Celebrity Apprentice. I’m sure there is more floating around but I’ll leave those to you. What did you learn?