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Lessons From The Apprentice (5.4)

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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

Prelude:

When Lenny and Tarek returned from the boardroom they let it out that Theresa was fired primarily because she didn’t bring Charmaine into the boardroom. Leaving the heavy implication that Charmaine would had been the person most likely fired. Charmaine shows signs of weakness as she runs off to her room in tears.

The Task:

The teams are to design a billboard for the new Post Grape Nuts Trail Mix Crunch cereal. The team with best billboard, as judged by Post executives, wins.

Synergy: Tammy steps up as project manager due to her own marketing experience. As she begins assigning tasks she asks if anybody has experience presenting to executives. Brent immediately steps up proclaiming his experience, but not necessarily to executives. You could immediately see the look of horror on the team member’s faces at the prospect of having Brent present. Tammy immediately shoots it down, much to the team’s relief, and puts Brent in charge of “clothing for the presentation”, an essentially meaningless task.

As the team begins brainstorming ideas, Brent presents the concept of a weight loss campaign. This idea was rejected because it was too limiting in possible audience reach. Brent tries again to present the idea again and again was shot down. The team decides on a campaign of passing Grape Nuts down to the next generation, with a new Grape Nuts cereal.

Brent again brings up his desire to present. As usual, he was shut down. Tammy said that since the product was targeting a health-conscious audience that he would not be the right person for the job.

Roxanne, Sean, and Allie were sent to find models for the ad. Instead, they hunted around for regular people they felt fit their concept. Soon they found a young woman and a rugged looking man in his forties to play her father. Both picks seemed to hit the mark for what they were trying to achieve.

The design team was busy putting together the ad and ignoring Brent’s suggestions at the same time. Tammy made a comment about too many cooks in the kitchen but ultimately did nothing to move let the design team do their job uninterrupted.

Once their design was completed they sent it over to Sean who was overseeing the photo shoot of the models. Ultimately he felt that it wasn’t great and needed changing to better fit with their concept.

Presentation time, the team is ready to leave but is held up because Brent is pant less. Andrea gets on his case about always being late which sets Brent off. The team wasn’t late, but I most certainly would have left Brent behind.

Gold Rush: Charmaine recovers from her weakness and steps up to lead her team. The team brainstorms for ideas and Charmaine settles on Bryce’s idea of having a woman chug down a box of Grape Nuts without the milk.

Leslie, Lee, and Tarek set out to find a model for their ad. Only 10 seconds out of the van, they found a young woman with a very natural kind of beauty. While I wouldn’t say the woman was “beautiful” she did have a very naturally good look to her that was pleasing on the eye.

As the concept came together the team started to feel that it was underwhelming. Bryce, who came up with the concept, began to backtrack and throw out new ideas. Charmaine, though not fully impressed with the end result had to reel the team in letting them know that they chose the concept and it’s too late to make changes, so they need to stick with it and make the best of it.

What I Might Have Done:

I had a couple of ideas but I can’t say that anything I would have done would have been better than what the teams put together. When Gold Rush presented their idea I immediately thought of a tag line of “milk not required”. I had another idea of showing a bowl of cereal with milk and then a picture of hands cupping cereal dry with a tag line of “Got Milt or Not Milk”. I’m not confident that either of those ideas are winners.

The result:

As the banners were unfurled for the Post executives, Synergy’s banner was far more vibrant than Gold Rush’s but ultimately looked like a cereal box than a billboard ad. There was quite a bit of writing which would be too much to read or take in for quick passers by.

Synergy had a slide show presentation to go along with their billboard. Trump mercifully cut Sean off after stammering quite badly through his presentation. I didn’t quite understand the point of a slide show when the job was to create a billboard. That was all the Post execs needed to determine a winner. But Sean’s performance was excruciatingly bad turning a useless extra into a considerable negative for the task.

Gold Rush’s ad was simple with only the words “It’s that Good.” The picture did the rest.

I thought it could have gone either way. I liked the vibrancy of Synergy’s ad, but the execs were absolutely right about too many words. The Post execs thought the simplicity of Gold Rush’s ad hit the mark dead on with the execs calling it “brilliant”.

Back in the suite, Synergy begins planning how to eliminate Brent from the team. Sean brings up the point that because they keep marginalizing Brent that it’ll be difficult to lay blame for the task on him. This problem is bound to re-occur. Others talk about ways to portray him simply as the weakest link and therefore the one who’s got to be fired. Brent heads to the boardroom ready to fight and proclaiming victory in advance.

The Boardroom:

The team rallied around Tammy, all proclaiming her a great, if not the best, project manager. Andrea took offense to that as she led the team to victory on the previous task. In the midst of the team rallying around their leader she forgets that it’s not about her.

Trump starts trashing on Sean for his poor presentation which incites Brent to jump in to talk about how great he could have done. While up until now nobody had really talked about Brent, this opens the floodgates for the team to let Trump know how they feel about Brent. While every team member complimented Tammy’s leadership Brent began trashing her leaving Trump to wonder why he’s the only one with a different opinion. Even trump thinks she did a good job on the task, just not as well as Charmaine.

During Brent’s diatribe, Roxanne, sitting next to him, is seen to burst out laughing at the ludicrousness of Brent’s comments. Brent continued to dig himself deeper in a while as the whole team lashed out against him.

Brent was fired without even giving Tammy the opportunity to bring him and another back into the boardroom. Trump simply felt that since Brent could not get along with anybody on his team it was clear that he wasn’t apprentice material.

Apprentice 5.4

Lessons Learned:

  • Don’t hold your team up. Be ready when you are supposed to be ready. Nobody appreciates being held up because somebody can’t get their stuff together.
  • It’s not always about you. Don’t take offense when someone gets accolades, even if you feel you’re better than them. Everybody gets their due but trying to steal the spotlight from someone else just makes you look petty.
  • Learn to get along with your team. If you can’t gain the respect of your team there is no way that you’ll ever be able to lead them or that they’ll have your back when you need it. There are things more important than being right or getting your way.

What would you have done?

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 Lessons From The Apprentice (5.4)

  1. Stoney G deGeyter
    Stoney deGeyter says:

    Not sure I agree about Lenny. He shows his strong points one week and his weaknesses the next.

    Brent was an idiot. He might have actually done well as a PM, but we’ll never know because he certainly did not do well as a follower.

    You’re right about the billboard, but at least both teams did relatively well on this task. Both the Sam’s Club and Gillette tasks were disasters from a marketing perspective. Sam’s Club they did nothing to attract new people into the store and Gillette, they did nothing to sell/market the product. Both of those tasks required bigger ideas than the teams presented.

  2. Igor M. says:

    First off … Lenny is a one funny guy, as well as smart (from what we are being shown).

    Regarding the previous episode … Brent proved to be an idiot. He forgot that this is The Apprentice and not a soap opera. He should go buy a book called “How to win friends and influence people” by Dale Carnegie (hope I spelled that right).

    Bottom line … last episode was not that exciting. Billboard is a billboard and I don’t know how you can be “one of the best” in business and not understand that you have about 3-6 seconds of attention with your billboard. IT’s NOT DIRECT MAIL, you know.