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Lessons From The Apprentice (5.3)

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The Candidates

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

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


Nobody was expecting Brent to return from the boardroom. When he did return, Andrea showed her weakness as an apprentice by running off to the bathroom in tears. I’m sorry, but what kind of manager can you be if you’re going to run off and cry anytime you are forced to work with someone you don’t like. I’ll predict right now that Andrea will NOT be the apprentice.

Dan and Lee tell their team that they won’t be participating in the next task because it’s the Jewish New Year. I immediately had mixed feelings about this. On one hand you want to respect the religious beliefs of others, but at the same time, they are not contributing to a task and if there is a loss I might try to make an argument that they were instrumental to that loss by not being there. I might have been tempted to take them into the boardroom with one other person. I would try to balance the argument that I respect their decision to observe their religious holiday but at the same time they did not contribute to this particular task.

I probably would have gotten fired just for doing that as Trump was obviously not concerned about this decision by Dan and Lee whatsoever. Lenny later tried to make the case that he too is Jewish but chose to work, but again, Trump was unfazed. Trump noted that George was also not working due to the Jewish New Year as well. But George already has the job!

The Task:

The teams were to organize a retreat for top GM dealers and owners. The retreat was designed to provide the dealers information and motivation to sell the new 2007 Chevy Tahoe. The team that received the best evaluation would win.

Synergy: Andrea immediately assigned Brent busy work to keep him out of the way. A strategy that ultimately allowed the team to focus on the task and settle on a theme of “Nature Refined”.

To complement this theme the team set up a rock wall, fly fishing, and an area for skeet shooting. A park ranger nixed the skeet shooting event. I can’t image how the team neglected to seek permission for this prior to renting the equipment. Shooting a gun in a park! Who woulda thunk that it’s not allowed.

Faced with a significant set-back, the team recovered quickly by supplementing golf cart racing in place of skeet shooting. The dealers never knew the difference, and had a great time.

Gold Rush: Theresa is project manager for this task and began a brainstorming session to come up with ideas. This began to unravel pretty quickly as there was no decision as to a direction for the event.

They eventually decided that their retreat would include giving the dealers rides in a horse-drawn carriage, hiring models to teach the dealers about the vehicle, a game of golf and a comedian to entertain them over lunch.

Lenny did a lot of the set up work but failed to secure a power generator. Bryce stepped in to secure the generator as Lenny sat back and said it wasn’t his responsibility.

Tarek and Bryce were left to set up the golf course in what looked like a field of patchy grass. Tarek suggested that they get some artificial turf to lay down to make a more reliable and smoother golf patch, but that was vetoes by Theresa. They made do with what they had, digging holes in the dirt and planting some flags.

The models were quickly educated on the vehicle so they could educate the dealers. This didn’t go over too well. The models learned very little about the cars as did the team members. The “centerpiece” of the event bombed big time because nobody was able to tell the dealers much of anything about the vehicle they are supposed to be there to learn about. The whole notion of using models to educate the salespeople about a car is utterly foolish. What is this, Beauty and the Geek? Models have one purpose, stand around and look pretty. Education is generally not their forte!

Things went downhill from there. The comedian they hired was completely not funny and then began delving into inappropriate sexual jokes. Worse, she couldn’t seem to read her audience and had to be cut off by the team! They paid her $1700 for a job poorly done. The dealers were not impressed to say the least.

What I Might Have Done:

I immediately thought of bringing in a comedian. My first thought was Jay Leno, but he would have been out of range for this event. But the idea of a comedian is a good one for entertainment, but within some parameters. Keep it clean and be funny. Another thought would a be a Tony Robbins type of inspirational speaker. If the speaker could find a way to work in information on the vehicle, that would make a spectacular event.

I thought another idea would be to create a game show using facts about the new Tahoe as questions. Divide the dealers into two teams, give them study material, and then pit an individual from each team against each other one question at a time. This would have created an atmosphere of fun while also educating the dealers on the vehicle.

The result:

The events were judged on three criteria:

  • interactivity
  • informational value
  • motivational value

The dealers at Gold Rush’s event felt that the comedian was over the line and that the team lacked product knowledge.

Synergy came out the clear winner as the dealers were very impressed with their event in totality.

Theresa blamed Lenny for the loss while others on the team didn’t necessarily agree. But when confronted with Lenny’s lack of initiative on securing the generator he became defensive and succeeded in angering many team members in the process. While the team wasn’t necessarily ready to blame Lenny for the loss, I think he secured a place of blame by his team mates.

Theresa told Trump that the loss resulted from poor execution and lack of creativity. She blamed Lenny and Tarek specifically for these failings. Tarek took heat for the lousy golf course and he failed to defend himself strongly enough. He should have made it clear that he did the best with what he was given and that it was Theresa’s decision not to bring in artificial turf.

Charmaine was blamed for hiring (and paying) the comedian, what many believed was a significant contributing factor to the loss.

Theresa brings Lenny and Tarek the Boardroom. Big mistake! Trump had already indicated that the hiring of the comedian was a serious issue. Theresa ignored this and let Charmaine go back to the suite out of harms way.

The Boardroom:

Lenny defends himself and gets backed up by Bill. He did a lot of set-up work that Theresa didn’t seem to appreciate. Once Lenny looked safe, Theresa turned her sights on Tarek, blaming him for the miserable golf tournament. The event actually went off pretty well, considering, but Tarek was able to defend himself well enough.

Attention then focused on Theresa not bringing Charmaine into the boardroom. It then came out that Charmaine was also responsible for the hiring of the models, another significant failure. That decision not to bring Charmaine back to the boardroom was a fatal one. That, coupled with a dud event with no theme and poor overall leadership, Theresa was fired.

The task was riddled with failures from the get-go. From the models, to golf, the generator to the comedian, to lack of product knowledge. Almost everybody on the team failed at something. In these cases there really is no one else to blame but the project manager. Those failures were a direct result from a lack of good leadership.

Apprentice 5.3

Lessons Learned:

  • Religious beliefs in the workplace are not to be messed with. It may not seem fair, but get over it and respect it. Making a fuss can only get you in hot water, or worse make you look like an intolerant fool.
  • When the boss gives you hints, take them under strong consideration. Even better, unless you can make a compelling argument why the boss’ suggestion is wrong, go with it!
  • Take responsibility. You can’t have every member of your team fail at their individual tasks and then turn and blame them all. The team gets their cues from the boss and multiple team member failures equals a leadership failure.
  • If the goal is to educate, find people knowledgeable on your subject matter to teach it… not people who’s lifelong ambition is to “look pretty”.

What would you have done?

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