The Apprentice 2010: Task 2 Performance Review

Each week as contestants compete for a $250,000 job contract, get the leadership lessons you can use to succeed

As a result, Octane is in constant reactionary mode in response to Fortitude’s proactive sales efforts, led by the aggressive-to-the-point-of-overbearing Stephanie. On the first day of selling, Octane beats Fortitude to a prime sales location in Manhattan’s Union Square, then surrenders it prematurely, allowing Fortitude to swoop in. Also, the ladies of Fortitude seem more appealing and professional (in pink tank tops as a result of Liza’s insistence on her team establishing a brand identity to distinguish it from the mid-day throng) and less off-putting than the desperate, hyperaggressive Octane. On the second day of selling, Octane again beats Fortitude to the prime sales location. This time, the ladies decide to compete in the same location, prompting David to release his “stallions,” “outgoing and good-looking gentlemen” entrepreneur Steuart Martens and former real estate investment manager Anand Vasudev. (Yes, this time the men, not the women, played the sex-appeal card.) After the two teams battled and squabbled over customers, Fortitude finds another great location, enjoying brisk sales in an area of Union Square filled with parents and their kids. But the knock-out punch comes as the second day of selling draws to a close: Fortitude goes straight “gangsta” and again invades Octane’s location–this time undercutting the men’s sales efforts by giving away their ice cream–which they’d been selling for a pricey $5 per item to that point–for free. The men, caught totally flat-footed, have no answer for Fortitude’s bold move.

The Result: Octane, which generated $1,500 in profits on their ice cream sales, is defeated by Fortitude, which beat their rivals by a significant 20 percent margin, delivering $1,800 in profits. On the first task, Gene, at 46 the oldest candidate in the talent pool for The Apprentice, ably represented Baby Boomers as the winning project manager. This week, Fortitude project manager Poppy, the baby in this class of candidates, scored one for Generation Next. She did a good job as project manager, despite Stephanie playing such a dominant role. Good leaders recognize that they only need to be the best and smartest at leadership–not at everything or anything else. It’s far more important to lead the best team, than to be the smartest person on the team.

Who I Would Have Fired: I absolutely would have fired David, Octane’s project manager on this task. “Just Do It” may have done wonders as a slogan for Nike, but leadership requires communicating how to do it. Other than consistently beating Fortitude to prime sales locations, David, a self-proclaimed top sales veteran, demonstrated zero sales ability and no sales strategy, leaving it to members of his team to make things up as they went along.

That said, I have no quarrel with Trump firing technician-turned-tow truck driver Alex Delgado. He did seem outmatched by his rivals, and becoming Trump’s next apprentice just didn’t seem that important to him–like the guy who is happy to be invited to the competition, but not all that determined to win it. In a tie between Alex and David over who to fire, Alex was the easiest to let go. The ongoing conflict between David and James offers a far stronger reality TV storyline than bland, affable, underachiever Alex. Besides, David seems so volatile, so barely under control, that I’m betting he’s “dead man walking”–fired, but just doesn’t know it yet. Until the axe drops, might as well let the viewers enjoy the drama.

Interim Evaluations of the Black Candidates: Gene did not distinguish himself positively or negatively during his team’s failed execution of this task. Kelly was impressive when she professionally but pointedly put Steuart in check for calling her teammates disparaging names as he pitched ice cream to potential customers during Octane and Fortitude’s head-to-head skirmish. (During her live chat with BlackEnterprise.com after the show aired last night, Kelly shared that most of her contributions as the lead marketing expert on her team have ended up on the cutting room floor so far.)

However, Liza is beginning to establish herself as a force to be reckoned with. In addition to getting her team to create a brand identity that would boost the effectiveness of their sales efforts, she continues to be vocal in the boardroom, this time defending herself against Poppy and Brandy’s naming her Fortitude’s weakest team member. (She was struck speechless, though, when Trump told her, “You’re fired.” He was just kidding.)

But the biggest challenge facing Liza could be whether or not she will pay a price for using the “b-word” in angry response to the suggestion that she should be fired if her team had lost the task, raising the spectre of her being typecast as the Omarosa of this edition of The Apprentice. (I’m thinking that might be David, actually.) Will this come back to haunt Liza? Tell me what you think.

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  • Sharon Jackson

    I do not think Poppy did such a fantastic job leading. Poppy allowed Stephanie to lead the team, which Stephanie was all to glad to do in case Fortitude lost. The difference between Poppy and the now fired Nicole is that Nicole was overly confident and off-putting while Poppy seemingly taking this into account, was nice and tried to get along with the stronger personalities of the group (Stephanie and Mahsa). Her niceness and willingness to get along with the stronger personalities made it easier for her to not be thrown under the bus by her teammates. That said, Poppy knew that putting others in charge of sales who are stronger was the better move. Nothing genius there. I questioned Poppy’s judgment when she named Liza the weakest link. I feel she named Liza as the weakest link not because she didn’t sell, but because there wasn’t as much face time between the two. When named the weakest link, I wanted Liza to speak more effectively about how her marketing efforts directly affected the team’s better sales. Liza needed to show, without screaming, that marketing and sales work hand in hand and that her well thought out ideas led the team to success. She then should have shown how in contrast, the men looked unprofessional when executing the same strategy. When Liza used the b-word, I screamed at the TV in vain wishing she could hear me! I understand her frustration at being named the weakest link, but I wanted her to be less emotional. I hope that going forward she will be calmer and then use that calmness to prepare and implement her plan of attack. Cooler heads always prevail. I agree that David should have been fired. There was no plan of action other than, sell anyway you can. David is a highly emotional, high-strung, hot head. If not for the apparent “please fire me” attitude of Alex, David could have been fired. Alex clearly wanted it all to end as he knew he was in way over his head. Way over. That said, next week’s episode should prove to be quite interesting as it appears David and James will come to blows.

    • http://blackenterprise.com Alfred Edmond, Jr.

      LOLOL “the apparent ‘please fire me’ attitude of Alex.” Sharon, you got that right–Alex absolutely wanted out! LOL

      I also agree with you that Liza should have more calmly and firmly made a case for her marketing/brand identity push being critical to sales support. My concern was not that she used the ‘b’ word–though I don’t recommend it–but she did it out of anger. I agree with you that coming off as emotional and reactionary won’t be good for her and could be the cause of her demise if she doesn’t correct it.

      You’ve made some great points, Sharon, and I hope you’ll continue to weigh in on my performance reviews in the weeks to come.

      Thanks!

      Alfred

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  • Porcupyn

    It is ironic that when talking of Alex, you talk about his ‘please fire me’ attitude whereas, while talking of Gene, you talk about how great he was and he should not have been fired (in spite of his specific ‘please fire me’ phrase).

    That said, I think that as of Episode 7 – the latest on this website to date – Alex’s exit was the most graceful of them all. I would unreservedly vote for him on my team … if we were looking for someone with his skillset. He is someone who would accept responsibility (and blame) and not throw someone else under the bus.

    BTW, I would have said the same thing about Gene too … but for his attitude with Anand (and on comments posted on this website).

    • Alfred Edmond Jr.

      Porcupyn;

      Thank you for your comments! I’m sure Alex is a great guy; that’s certainly the view of many of the other former Apprentice candidates, based on what they’ve said about him on Twitter.

      However, Alex just didn’t seem like he WANTED to stay in the competition, allowing himself to be fired although he was in no way directly responsible for Octane’s loss on this task. I believe if he had defended himself more forcefully (which did not require him to throw anyone under the bus), David would have been fired, as I believe should have happened.

      As for Gene, I did not say he SHOULD NOT have been fired–his performance on Task 5 was terrible. I said he WOULD NOT have been fired if he had not stated out loud that Trump could fire him if that’s what he wanted to do. Gene, like Alex, also refused to throw anyone else under the bus. But in his case, if he had just accepted responsibility for his performance (which he did) and then held his peace (despite the disparaging remarks Trump kept making about his speaking ability), I believe Gene would have survived the board room and remained in the competition.

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