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E-Marketing Performance Blog

Lessons From The Apprentice (6.1 – Los Angeles)

Apprentice Logo

The Candidates:

Kinetic: Muna, Kristine, Derek, Marisa, Angela, Surya, Jenn, Heidi, Aimee

Arrow: Nicole, Frank, Michelle, James, Carey, Tim, Martin, Aaron, Stefani


For the first time The Apprentice leaves New York and sets up shop in Los Angeles.

Trump immediately puts the candidates to work on a task meant to see how everybody works together, kind of as a “get to know each other” task. Together they are to build a tent behind the mansion. I’m wondering now if they’ll be sleeping in this tent together!

The tent building is almost an immediate disaster as everybody is talking at once. Heidi steps up and takes control because she says she has experience with tents. She starts directing the candidates, seemingly successfully. Then… Frank pipes in and tries to force his leadership on everyone. This seems to be an intrusion on a system already working and Frank already starts alienating some other candidates. Martin felt it was important to supervise sanding above everybody on a rock. In other words, he did nothing and felt good about it.

Task complete the candidates enter into Trumps LA mansion where he has the boardroom. Entering with Trump is his daughter Ivanka. Trump asked who led and the consensus was Frank and Heidi. Trump selected them to be the first project managers and their task now was to select their teams.

Trump adds a new twist to the game, if a project manager wins, they remain project manager for the team. If they lose… well, the get brought to the boardroom.

The Task:
The teams are to run a car wash. They have a limited amount of time to make money and the team that makes the most money wins.

Kinetic Corp: Heidi’s team quickly put together some cheap cardboard signs and hired a couple of sexy men to hold signs to attract the gay crowd. The immediately begin washing cars en mass while leaving the detail bays (the real money) empty. Their strategy is to was as many cars as possible on the cheap (while giving a way free lunches) and hope that pays off for them.

Kinetic seems to have a backlog of cars. They are having a hard time meeting demand because more people are holding signs than actually washing cars. Fifteen minute waits were turning into an hour and 15 minutes, creating some unhappy customers.

Arrow Corp: PM Frank start handing out assignments. He assigns two people to create fliers, a price point was decided on rather haphazardly after the fact and no pricing was established for up-sells. Frank then takes off with another team mate to get marketing materials leaving the rest of the team without any real idea of what’s going on. With Frank away, Tim steps up to lead the remainder (the majority) of the team and makes crucial decisions.

The team calls Frank for some additional instructions and Frank just wants them washing cars. He’s worried the other team is already bringing in cash and just wants his team hitting the streets bringing in business.

Half the team is trying to hustle traffic but they don’t have any signage. No signs = no business. About two thirds through their allotted time they finally the signage they needed and began making much needed sales. The candidates are working hard on the up-selling. They understand the money is in the up-sell.

What I Might Have Done:

Well, not to play the sex card, but nobody sells a car wash like some hot babes in bikini’s all soaped up. I think the teams could have done well to hire a few hands, or hot bodies rather, to put on a public display of car washing.

But ultimately I think that the guys knew what was important as they pushed the up-selling. Had they done as well on the marketing end as they did on the sales end they would have made a whole lot more money. The women had the marketing angle but didn’t have the man power to meet demand as everybody was marketing and nobody was washing. They needed a few less marketers and more washers to pull in more money.

The result:
Arrow Corp brought in $2345.54, while Kinetic managed to pull in $2463. A difference of $117.46!

Heidi remains project manager for her team and gets to join Trump in the boardroom by his side to help determine who stays and who goes. Arrow Corp gets the distinct privilege of sleeping outside in a tent until they win. Not only sleep, but they have to eat and shower, and presumably other things outside as well.

The Boardroom:

Rochelle stands behind Frank as a leader who brought in the energy. When asked by Ivanka if there was a strategy in place, Martin jumps in to give his opinion: three mission critical errors and some “fatal character errors” were made. Planning was scattered, bad price point and some bad marketing issues. Frank stands behind the concept of going after the higher end clientele rather than volume.

When asked who priced, Frank says that Tim was in charge. Tim doesn’t back Martin as an ineffective sales person. Others agree that Martin was the weak link in sales. It came out that Frank was out for the first hour making photo copies for fliers that were ineffective. Heidi believes anybody could have done that instead of the team leader.

Martin tries to back himself by saying Ivanka saw him working. She says she didn’t! Trump asks each person who they would fire before Frank comes back with his pick of two to face The Donald. It seems that most believe Frank should bear ultimate responsibility, though Martin is often mentioned as equally responsible.

Frank chooses Martin and Tim to come back into the boardroom with him.

Both Heidi and Ivanka don’t think Martin is a good fit for the organization. While most thought that Frank should be fired, they all professed how much they like him. Frank got extremely worked up in the boardroom and really showed a dark side. While Martin may not have been a good salesperson, Frank simply was not there for his team and provided very poor direction and leadership. My choice to be fired is Frank. Frank was responsible for leaving for an hour to make lame fliers.

Trump fires Martin.

Lessons Learned:

  • Its important to have a plan. Even when desperate to get started, you can’t take action until a plan is in place that will ensure the win. Starting with no plan sets you further behind than starting late with a plan.
  • When it’s a close loss, anybody and anything can bear ultimate responsibility. Just one more sale, just one more up-sell, just a few more minutes here or there, any of it could have made the difference.
  • Never give someone a reason to lay the blame on you. Even if you think you’re working your butt off, or your contributions are superior, if you let your guard down, take a short break, or if you’re not in it for the team, anything can and will be used against you.
  • When you think you’re the one with the best ideas or the hardest working, there is a good chance you think that because you’ve only been looking at yourself. Don’t be so self focused that even your hard work or good ideas cause your downfall because you are only in it for you and not for the team.

What would you have done?

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