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Lessons From The Apprentice: Season 5 Wrap-Up

This probably had to be one of the more disappointing seasons of the apprentice yet. Of those that made it to the final four, Sean (winner), Lee (runner-up), Roxanne and Allie, only one had actually proven that they deserve to be there… and even that would be questionable in light of some of the past winners. The fact is, this season really didn’t have any candidates that truly deserved to be the apprentice. Past seasons had better final four losers than this season’s Apprentice winner.

The question is, why? Why were this season’s candidates (and ratings for that matter) not as good as previous seasons? I think the answer can be found in the casting call. These casting calls are run by talent agencies. These agencies are generally responsible for finding talent to place on TV shows, movies and yes, even reality shows. But the Apprentice is a different kind of reality show. You can’t just get anybody and throw them into a job interview with Trump.

Sure, it’s nice seeing pretty faces like Sean and Tammy, and it’s even fun to see the personalities interact. But I think Brent showed us clearly that having a personality, good or bad, is not enough. From week one everybody knew Brent wasn’t going to make it. I bet Trump knew Brent didn’t have a chance before an episode of the show aired. Funnily enough, for a couple tasks, Brent was the only one who did anything… but something isn’t always better than nothing, and Brent could have easily been replaced by 1000 other more qualified applicants.

Another problem with the show is the tasks, and probably more directly the time in which the teams have to complete a task. A good event or marketing campaign takes time to plan. Sure, many of the tasks were executed expertly, but a good deal more were executed with the minimal effort to win. Time, I’m sure, plays a role (and is also a big factor in creating a watchable TV program) but I believe that many of the tasks will have much more success should the teams be given more time to plan, prepare and execute.

Given more time, I think the teams will be forced to think bigger. After all, applying to work for the Trump organization, is selling a couple thousand dollars worth of Pizza’s really that big of a deal? Should developing an important electronics display be rushed? If I was the execs I would be embarrassed. I think it would be nicer to see both teams succeed (where one is more successful than the other, of course) rather than what we saw this year where both teams often failed and one was simply less of a failure than the other.

If the Apprentice wants to gain their viewership back, they need to do more than bring in “international” candidates (not that there is anything wrong with that) or move from New York to LA as they will do for season six. No, what they need to do is to get the casting agents out of the business and start bringing in real business candidates.

Do you wonder why of all the past Apprentice winners that only Bill Rancic has returned to the show in any kind of leadership capacity? I think its because for the first season they were looking for real business people over personalities. Now they are looking for personalities that will create “good TV” instead of real business people. Ironically, this is what is causing the Apprentice not to be “good TV”.

Don’t get me wrong, there have been a lot of very strong business people on the show, and even this season. But this season over any other, there were also quite a lot of people that really had zero chance of winning. These are the people just playing the game, and the Apprentice isn’t a game show and it isn’t survivor, or any other reality show… this is a show were winning a task should trump personality disputes. For some reason these guys just don’t understand this and many just fight for themselves rather than fighting for the win. This may win you some battles, but will lose you the war.

I’m still looking forward to another season of the Apprentice, but they need to step it up a notch, rather than stepping it back. Gimmicks such as calling in to win $10,000 isn’t going to improve ratings. The only thing that will do that is if the producers of the show take candidate selection seriously and pick candidates that take business seriously.

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: Season 5 Wrap-Up

  1. Igor M. says:

    Stoney, you’re right about the candidates being under-qualified to even compete in the top 1000. Let’s not forget that people watch the show for different reasons.

    For example, you and I, as I believe, watch the show to be a bit entertained but also to learn something new from it; interactions, the ideas, the industry and so on. Many other people watch the show just for entertainment. Like I say when I work on an Ad …. let’s not judge only by our views.

    Yes, many candidates were horrible. Ideas that they produced were silly and immature. But what “most” people like about any show is the drama, comedy and fighting (cat fights, dog fights, you name it.

    Here is the bottom line; Trump has to be able to stay in the middle between choosing personalities against choosing qualified people. I think that can be done if they focus more on the CASTING instead of signing advertisers.

    Stoney they didn’t pick you for the LA 6th season. I am sure you’ll see few dumb asses on the show and you’ll say to your self….. “what? they made the show>>>? Huh?”

  2. Stoney G deGeyter
    Stoney deGeyter says:

    “what? they made the show>>>? Huh?”

    I’ll try not to think about that! (I’ll let my wife say it!!!)

    You’re right about different audiences, but the fact is that the viewer numbers for the show have been in decline for the past two seasons. This season finale had the lowest numbers of any of them. This tells me that they are doing something wrong… and I think it comes down to selecting the candidates, and possible the tasks as well. Time to step it up a notch!