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.