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E-Marketing Performance Blog

Lessons From The Apprentice (5.9)

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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 buries the hatchet with Charmaine and let’s bygones be bygones. A smart move for someone who will be the next team project manager and needs his team’s full support in order to pull off a victory.

The Task:

The teams are to spend the day taking photographs on Ellis Island and then create a souvenir tourist program to be sold. The team to make the most money wins.

Synergy: Allie takes on PM role and brings her team on the island. Half take the tour in order to get ideas for the product while the others go off taking pictures. Andrea felt that the tour was a waste of time when most of the information they need is already available in brochures. Roxanne feels that Andrea simply doesn’t know how to follow and therefore complains about anybody else in charge. Not getting a friendly ear from Roxanne, Andrea takes her complaint to similarly unfriendly ears in Allie.

When it came time to leave Tammy couldn’t find her notebook and went back to look for it with Allie. By the time the found it the boat had already taken off leaving the two of them stranded on the island for another couple of hours.

With Allie incommunicado, Andrea takes the lead on developing the brochure stressing her experience as a graphic designer. When Allie finally joins the team she is extremely unhappy with the product Andrea has put together and makes some last minute changes to fix it.

The next morning Synergy arrives only to find that Gold Rush has a considerable head start, a lock on a prime selling location and a much nicer brochure than her team. Not getting any traction with the sales, the team decides to go to the island to try to sell from the museum.

As the sales day comes to a close Andrea pipes up that she is an expert in bulk sales. In the words of Adam Sandler in the Wedding Singer, that’s information that would have been helpful YESTERDAY! This was a big mistake for Andrea to admit this so late in the day. It was too late to really do anything about it and now she has set herself up as a legitimate reason for a possible loss. Had she disclosed this information earlier the team might have been able to act on it.

Gold Rush: Lee takes front position for his team. He sends Michael and Tarek to begin taking pictures while he and Charmaine worked on a sales plan. Together they called businesses to try to make some bulk sales of their product but had a hard time getting any conversions.

Tarek takes point in creating the brochure with Lee taking what seems to be his typical CYA roll… always leave somebody to blame in case of failure. A frustrated Charmaine complains about Lee’s lack of involvement and expresses her desire to lose so Lee will take the blame. At the same time, Charmaine is not willing to sabotage the team in any way and continues to push for a win.

Lee gets Gold Rush up early in order to claim their territory for brochure sales and is ready to push his team to a victory.

Charmane gets a return call from the previous day’s sales blitz and they were able to sell 100 additional brochures to Coldwell Banker.

What I Might Have Done:

Lee gets credit here for getting a prime selling location and getting it early. Though the additional 100 bulk sale to Coldwell Banker was insignificant in the total end result, Lee gets credit for this kind of thinking.

After striking out with the phone calls, however, I would have pounded the pavement going door to door to businesses. I think you could have made an enticing pitch, asking businesses to buy them for $100 for 100 and telling them they can resell them for $3 each. And since the money was going to charity its win-win-win. Several hours hitting the pavement could have netted enough to not have to rely solely on individual customer sales.

The result:

Trump asks Allie how she thinks the team did and Allie comes right out saying that she thinks they could have done better. When asked why, Allie places the blame on Andrea for being a poor salesperson. Battle lines are drawn.

Synergy made $843.40 while Gold Rush made $1,548. A clear victory to Gold Rush, giving them their first win in four weeks.

Back in the suite Andrea confronts Allie calling her a liar for suggesting she didn’t pull her weight with the sales. Andrea claimed to have sold $210 herself, though there does not seem to be any official verification of this. Later Andrea calls her female team mages “bitches” for going after her.

While her team conspires against her, Andrea eavesdrops to hear what is going on. The women are trying to convince Sean that Andrea wants to go, but Sean respects Andrea and feels he’s being put into a bad position, not wanting to take sides. While Sean and Andrea go off to discuss what to do, Allie predicts a blood bath in the boardroom.

The Boardroom:

When all the women placed blame for the loss on Andrea, Trump is stunned because he believed Andrea to be the team star. Andrea was accused of not being a good leader or a follower… all around, just not a good team player. The most comfort Andrea could get was from Sean who said he did not wholeheartedly agree with his team mates and say that he would fire Allie.

Allie jumped in noting that Andrea, a “self-proclaimed graphics specialist” did a poor job developing the brochure and Allie had to bat cleanup to get it done in time.

The issue of Andrea’s supposed skills as a bulk-sales person came up and seemed to clinch her fate. The point was made that she should have mentioned this to the team earlier when they could do something about it.

Andrea’s performance in the boardroom as absolutely poor. She seemed to not be able to do anything but to quietly disagree with her team mates but made no compelling or otherwise verbal argument why they were wrong and she was right. Allie was right, there was blood on the walls and it wasn’t even a contest. Andrea seemed genuinely stunned to hear how her teammates were talking about her and was utterly unable to counteract.

I don’t think Andrea is used to people being honest with her about her faults. It was almost as if this is the first time she’s come face to face with her own deficiencies, somehow believing that she was really an expert in just about everything. This was a distinct disadvantage for her.

Trump seemed genuinely convinced by the team, not believing they were being malicious towards Andrea and that she was legitimately responsible for the loss. Andrea was fired.

Apprentice 5.9

Lessons Learned:

  • Determination can be make the difference between a win or a loss, especially when all other things are equal. A determination to win puts you in position to defend yourself aggressively and lay out the facts in a compelling manner. Those that are not as determined often fall behind and find themselves on the losing end.
  • Surround yourself with people who will be honest about your faults. Being surrounded only with “Yes” people may make you feel good about yourself, but it will also prevent you from working on your faults in order to improve. In the same vein, give others room to be honest with you about your faults and cherish constructive criticism.
  • Value your team. When there is friction over a previous task, put it behind you as quickly as possible and reunite to get a victory on the next task. Put the past behind and give everyone a fresh chance to prove their value with you supporting them.

Final Four Predictions:

As we get closer to the end I’ll be re-assessing my final four predictions each week. As of now I predict Lee, Sean, Charmaine and Roxanne. A week ago I would have predicted Andrea, but with her out Roxanne makes the list. Ultimately I think each of these has more to offer than Allie, Michael, Tammy and Tarek. Each of these four have shown weaknesses, though of this batch I think Tammy has the best chance of getting into the final four should one of the others fall flat in the next few weeks.

What would you have done, and who do you predict will make the F4?

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 (5.9)

  1. Stoney G deGeyter
    Stoney deGeyter says:

    Yeah, Allie screwed up, no doubt about that, but I gotta hand it to her for defending herself well. If I was Andrea I would have pointed out that she was missing for two hours because she missed her ride. Big mess there. Getting beat to the punch by Lee was also a significant reason for the loss… but Allie was able to spin it all onto Andrea. Pretty deft.

    Selling ad space is a great idea and it could have made them some money. The probably didn’t have enough time to put something like that together, but worthwhile.

    Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think Lee necessarily deserves to be in the final four, but I do think it will turn out that way. Like I said many times before, Trump’s pet. But Lee did earn his team a significant victory and this was HIS win. It was Lee who got the location, set the price and got there early.

  2. Igor M. says:

    Andrea fired … I’d fire both her and Allie.

    You see … in this case it’s not about the brochure design. This task is a “quick sell”. This is not a “quality sell” or “repeat business strategy”. So what’s important is the Location and Selling strategy. Both were a disaster.

    Allie did not secure the best spot and did not come up with a good selling strategy. Andrea’s fault here is…? Design? Who cares? Do people look at this booklet for 5-10 minutes, looking at design before deciding to fork over $3 bucks? Absolutely NOT.

    I believe that too much time was spent on design. Instead they should have focused more on the selling strategy. You see … I am in the business of “Quality service” and I am all for quality, but in this task, the graphics were not THE MOST important factor.

    Lee looked like an immature boy just out of college trying to lead a team. Nevertheless, he made good strategy decisions like (location, time to get there, …) Cold calling is time consuming, so I wouldn’t necessarily agree on that strategy when you have 24-48 hours to do something and you have 4 people on the team. In either case … they won, so good job.

    Stoney … I like the door to door strategy (when you have a good offer) so that might have worked. I’d also contact businesses before printing and offer to put their contact info on the brochure so that when they give them out to their prospects or customers, this works out for them in terms of (repeat sales / marketing).

    Final 4? Hmm…. The deal with Lee is very unpredictable. I am sure that Sean will be there. He is the only person I see there as an Apprentice material.

    By the way Andrea was also fired for the reason that she is a MILLIONAIRE and doesn’t really need to work for $200,000 /yr. Believe me … Trump does consider that greatly.