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Lessons From The Apprentice (5.8)

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The Candidates

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

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


Lee comes back from the boardroom worried that he doesn’t have anyone that will have his back. After proving to his team that he puts friendship over good business sense, he realizes that without that friend nearby he remains vulnerable. Charmaine calls Lee on just that.

Michael, who realized that his victory as PM of Synergy was shallow due to his inability to gain the respect of his team, chooses to go over to Gold Rush and fill the void. This is the first time I can remember having a PM, fresh off a victory, choosing to switch teams with his previous team’s blessing.

The Task:

Help 7-11 launch their new P’EatZZa sandwich. The teams will be responsible for a one-day marketing blitz and will be judged on how much they increase their store’s single-day sales %.

Synergy: Andrea leads the team and immediately pulls rank, disregarding all their ideas and going with a promotional hat giveaway with each sandwich. The team gets a jump on the action by passing out fliers to passersby the night before. This paid off the next day as many people came back to try the new sandwich. With a price of only $4 each more people buy based on that then the free hat.

Gold Rush: Leslie leads Gold Rush and together the team decides on promotional drink cooler giveaway with each sandwich. Lee, Charmaine and Michael are sent to check out their store and begin making arrangements.

Lee convinces the store manager to strip away all other sandwiches and replace them with the P’EatZZa sandwich. This is a bold but risky move as it could potentially lead to a loss in sales for people looking for an ordinary sandwich, and not necessarily wanting the new P’EatZZa. When asked about pricing, the store manager suggests they price the sandwiches at $6.99. Later as the group gathers, an exhausted Leslie makes an executive decision to price one sandwich at $7.99 and two for $8.99.

Gold Rush developed a quiz to entice walk-bys to come into the store and purchase a sandwich. This concept failed miserably with Tarek at the helm. Nobody paid any attention to the ramblings of the 7-11 madman.

Lee overhears managers complain that the $8.99 price was too high. When he reported this to Leslie he was dismissed. Left with nothing else to do but sell sandwiches, Lee takes it upon himself to go strike the “big” deal. He spends over an hour trying to negotiate with a business for 1000 sandwiches, but ultimately they can’t agree on a price.

What I Might Have Done:

While Gold Rush’s price point was considered too high, I think most people would have purchased two sandwiches for $8.99 which would mean they would get $4.50 for each on sold. This left them with pricing far lower than it should have been. I think a better price would have been $5.99 each or two for $11. This would have resulted in more sales and more profits.

Hats were a poor choice for a promotional campaign, I think the cooler struck the right cord and went better with the sandwiches.

The result:

Gold Rush increased their store’s sales by 608%. Synergy had increased sales by 997%. While Synergy was the clear victory, these numbers showed that both teams performed exceptionally well.

Michael states that he feels like he fits in with Gold Rush even though they continue to lose. If Michael fits in better with losers then he will undoubtedly find himself the ultimate loser after being fired soon. Real soon.

The Boardroom:

Leslie immediately blames Lee for not contributing to the task. Lee defends himself by saying that he spent his time trying to strike a deal that, had he been able to work it out, would have given the team a victory.

All but Charmaine is in agreement that Leslie should be fired. The difference between Charmaine’s willingness to stand by Leslie and Lee standing by Lenny in the previous task, is that Charmaine comes off as credible and absolutely believing in what she says. Lee didn’t and had to bend the truth considerably to make his case before.

Leslie brings Lee back to the board room without anybody else. While this is usually a bad move I think Leslie makes the case well that there really is no one else that she believes is at fault and therefore it would be disingenuous to bring in her own “advocate”, again, in contrast to Lenny in the previous task.

Trump rightfully commends Lee for attempting to score a huge deal, but at the same time gives Lee a pass at his failure to close. This is a concession that Trump seems to grant only to Lee as he has berated many others in the past for failing with a big idea.

Ultimately Leslie bared the responsibility for the loss which Trump believed was based solely on the price point. Leslie was fired.

Apprentice 5.8

Lessons Learned:

  • Know your industry and your customer. Pricing isn’t easy but you have to know what your customers are willing to pay. Too high, or too low and you’ll not be able to maximize profits.
  • Know your product. When running a free giveaway promotion, choose the right item or items to give away. Choose something that ties in well with the product.
  • Be careful of the boss’ pet. Even the most educated and successful business person can give their “favorites” a pass even when they wouldn’t give the same pass to others. Be aware of this and tread carefully and wisely around the “pet”.

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 (5.8)

  1. Stoney G deGeyter
    Stoney deGeyter says:

    You better believe I’m happy to live here!

    Leslie was stubborn and for that reason deserved to be fired. I think she was just too tired to think clearly. Lee’s deal was a good idea but I know Trump would have blamed just about anybody else for spending time on a deal gone bad. After all, he fires people from the losing team even when they do well, so it’s not a matter of how good of an idea something was but whether you win or lose. Lee lost that deal. Trumps pet, I think.

  2. Igor M. says:

    Well … back from Germany (Frankfurt, Dortmund, Dusseldorf) … good to be back in U.S.

    Stoney …. we should be glad we live here (trust me).

    I’ll write about my trip in my newsletter soon. Anyway…

    Leslie was just a stubborn kitty (in terms of price). Sometimes people in business feel that if they make a decision it should be final or else they’ll look like a fool. She deserved to be fired.

    Lee actually surprised me a bit. He wanted to take action and even though the deal was not a success it was worth the shot.

    At this point I don’t remember that episode as well as I want to when I comment, so I’ll stop.

    As they say in Germany … “Cheers” or is it “Choose”? hmm.