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Lessons From The Apprentice (5.13)

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The Candidates

Synergy: Allie, Andrea, Brent, Pepi, Roxanne, Stacy, Tammy

Gold Rush: Bryce, Charmaine, Dan, Lee, Lenny, Leslie, Michael, Sean, Summer, Tarek, Theresa


Sean is upset for having to listen to Allie and Roxanne for another week. Who can blame him. He says he’s “bored to tears” with their “rubbish”. Aren’t we all. Aren’t we all!

The Task:

The teams are to design four new sets of uniforms for Embassy Suites hotels: front desk, breakfast cook, suite keeper, and bellman. The uniforms will be judged by the Embassy Suites employees.

Synergy: Allie decides to take a ground-up approach and opts to do a total re-design of the uniforms. She thinks its more important to be cutting-edge and stylish over functionality.

Allie pretty much takes charge of the design aspects. She liked the idea of culottes for the woman and pushed pretty hard despite a less than luke-warm acceptance of the idea from the employees. Roxanne obviously disagrees with many of Allie’s decisions remains quiet, including about how Allie is treating the designer.

Gold Rush: With the understanding that the uniforms will be judged by the employees, rather than executives Lee realizes that they need to make the uniforms comfortable and functional over stylish and trendy. Lee’s approach is to not re-invent the wheel and improve upon the current uniforms rather than starting from scratch.

This is more of a safety strategy that does carry risks but also allows the guys to focus on getting feedback from the employees about what they do and don’t like about the uniforms and making them better. Lee understands the risk in that the girls might come up with something new spectacular that the employees may really like.

The result:

The Embassy Suites employees felt that Gold Rush’s clothes looked fresh and comfortable, while Synergy’s outfits were deemed to be not practical, not comfortable and non-complimentary to all body types. The employees voted 83 to 37 in favor of Gold Rush. The executives believe that the designs were immediately implementable across the entire Embassy Suites chain.

What I Might Have Done:

Lee had the right idea of not starting from scratch but just looking to improve on the current design. Their improvements gave the employees extra comfort and additional features that help them perform their duties better. The safety approach always carries risk in that someone will be more creative and win on effort alone. This time the safe approach was the right one.

Back in the boardroom, Allie still feels as if they “totally nailed it”. I guess she nailed it with 25% of the employees, but in most books, that’s a clear loss.

The Boardroom:

Initially Allie and Roxanne were reluctant to attack each other and tried to play it safe. Questions were answered in vague terms with neither explicitly blaming the other. Finally, Trump asked for a more direct answer and then the gloves came off.

Allie straight up lied about the culottes not being here idea. She tried to say it was both of their idea. In fact, according to Allie, everything was just as much Roxanne’s idea as hers. Roxanne of course disagreed vehemently, as things deteriorated into a shouting match between the two.

Trump cuts them off, disgusted seeing two friends turn on each other so violently. Both were fired.

I’m not sure Trumps rationale was fair. The boardroom is a verbally violent place and each person is expected to defend themselves which also means pointing out the flaws of your team members. But neither Allie or Roxanne are Apprentice material and I think Trump knows that.

Apprentice 5.13

Lessons Learned:

  • Friends in business are great, but should not interfere with business. A strong enough friendship should be able to withstand the highs and lows that are a part of the business relationship, even if somebody else ends up ahead.
  • Meet the needs of your audience. Know who your audience is and build your product or service to please them. Lofty goals and ideals are worthless if nobody wants them.

The Apprentice Prediction:

My money is on Sean.

What would you have done, and who do you predict will win?

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