The Apprentice 2010: Task 3 Performance Review

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

James goes on to prove that his team was right to doubt him. He also repeatedly disrespects the owner of the pet store. When the owner walks away clearly annoyed by how he is treated by James, real estate attorney Clint Robertson urges James to bring him back and make amends, reminding him that the owner will be among those judging Octane on this task. James blows Clint off and angers and alienates Wade by assigning him the task of decorating the spa entrance despite his experience with and obvious love for dogs. All through the task, David remains as disruptive and insubordinate as ever. While David is totally out of line, James further diminishes his stature as project manager by quarreling with David in the presence, and later within earshot, of the pet store owner. James eventually dismisses David from the task, but by then it’s too little, too late. He has lost any chance of gaining respect from the remaining members of the team. And even the squabble which led to David being dismissed was over something inconsequential to the task–the decor of the pet spa entrance. That James even let that become a priority is just more evidence of how little he understood the objective of the task.

By contrast, Fortitude pulls off their management of the pet hotel/spa pretty much without a hitch. Discovering that Tuesday is a slow sales day at the spa, the team creates a “Tailwag Tuesdays” value-add package, consisting of a “doggy bag” of promotional treats and a photo and report card of each pet’s activities for their owners on that day. The idea is embraced by the pet store owner. Project Manager Tyana assigns herself to the front desk to greet customers, over the strong objection of assistant district attorney Mahsa Saeidi-Azcuy, who sites a strong fear of dogs and her 15 years of experience at the front desk of her mother’s beauty salon. While Tyana clearly intends to put Mahsa into a position of vulnerability by assigning her to work with the largest dogs at the spa (tasking Kelly to handle the small dogs), she was right to not put Mahsa at the front desk. Mahsa, despite her insistence that she is “incredible with clients,” is a pit bull; she’s the last person I’d want to have making first contact with customers. Tyana, on the other hand, is clearly good at charming customers, a skill required of all successful real estate agents. The closest Fortitude ever comes to a “crisis” (more a minor glitch, despite the accompanying dramatics), is the corruption of graphic files for the doggie report cards and signage for the pet store, discovered about 15 minutes before the end of business. Liza, who was assigned responsibility for designing the graphics, quickly sends corrected files to the printer.

The Result: Another crushing defeat for Octane, which looks as unfocused and disjointed as James’ amazingly inarticulate explanation of his team’s concept to dog whisperer Cesar Millan, a guest judge on this task. James even fails to mention his team’s value-add, the doggie cams (Clint finally brings it to Millan’s attention)–the only thing he likes about Octane’s effort. Fortitude on the other hand, wows Trump, the pet spa owners, and the other judges, including Millan. In fact, during her live chat with BlackEnterprise.com after the show aired last night, Kelly shared that Fortitude’s Tailwag Tuesday promotion would continue to be used by the spa. As the winning project manager for Fortitude, Tyana is rewarded with a meeting with Black Enterprise Titan and hip-hop industry pioneer Russell Simmons.

Who I Would Have Fired: I would have fired both James and David. David’s out-of-control, unprofessional and insubordinate behavior is inexcusable. Worse is his total willingness to see his entire team fail if he doesn’t get his way. David got away with this behavior thanks to Gene leading Octane to victory on Task 1. Since then, the only explanation for his multiple stays of execution is that he probably now has people tuning in to see just what it will take for him to get fired.

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  • http://www.spedient.com Nichole Hodge

    I read your review & I totally agree. Both James & David deserved to be fired this week. James’ exhibited poor judgment even before the task began by volunteering to be PM. He should have given himself additional time to attempt to change his teammates view of him (although unlikely) before leading a task. He had to know that his team, would never support him and that David at the very least would be willing to suffer a loss in order to get him fired. He essentially volunteered for the firing squad.

    Liza is in a difficult place because she clearly has a bulls eye on her back placed by Stephanie the banker. Stephanie has clearly made this personal. How silly to report that she called Poppi the “b” word? Although I wouldn’t have called her that, in my 15 yrs in business I”ve witnessed far more cut throat exchanges than that. Even Trump found it a bit petty as evidenced by his own use of the word in jest. Furthermore, Liza was right; Stephanie couldn’t give concrete examples to justify why she thought Liza was the weakest link. But Liza needs to be able to articulate that without appearing to have a nervous breakdown. If she wants to survive she’ll have to contol her emotions. If not, Trump(and the viewers) will start to get annoyed with her “almost” tears and interpret them as weakness.

  • Alfred Edmond Jr.

    Nichole;

    You make a great point about Stephanie. She may have overreached in her efforts to discredit Liza by “tattling” about her use of the “b word”, especially in the absence of providing concrete examples of Liza failing to perform on any of her tasks.

    The main problem with Liza’s emotionalism is that she does come off as fearful (or in your words, “about to have a nervous breakdown). She has to change this perception by making her case to be the next Apprentice with calm confidence. She can’t allow her fear of failure to overshadow her determination to succeed, despite the risk of being fired. As a leader, it’s okay to show that you hate to lose, but it’s not okay to show that you are afraid to lose.

    Thanks for weighing in, Nichole! I look forward to more comments from you.

  • Sierra

    I agree that James should have been fired too. I could not believe that he did not bother to talk to the owners of the company first before anything. A great leader needs to be able to listen to the needs and concerns of clients as well as employees.

    • Alfred Edmond Jr.

      Sierra,

      You are absolutely right. But I’m not surprised James performed so poorly. I seem to remember on Task 1, when Gene was nominated to be project manager, James saying that he was less a leader and more of a behind-the-scenes adviser type. He was never a serious player.

  • Calvin J. Adolph

    I am quickly growing tired of watching “The Apprentice”. At one time I longed for its return to the original format of giving everyday people (and a few overachievers) the opportunity to become an apprentice to Donald Trump (I still don’t know why most of the contestants from the earlier seasons applied in the first place. I believe they already possessed the acumen to successfully navigate the corporate world.) This season’s crop of contestants despite having prestigious credentials is simply boring me. Is ‘The Donald’ going to provoke arguments from the contestants every week before announcing who won the task? I find myself unapologetically indifferent toward wanting any (including the black contestants) of these whining babies to win the coveted prize. We have all endured the recession with battle wounds and scars so I don’t feel sorry for them. However, it seems to me that as soon as you volunteer to be PM and lose a task a job is waiting for you as a reward. Maybe they should all volunteer to be fired so that something else could fill that prime time spot. I so miss watching Kwame, Dr. Randal Pinkett (and even Omarosa) battle it out. Sadly, this is making me wish for the celebrities (at least then the money goes to charities).

    • Alfred Edmond Jr.

      Calvin,

      So far, I am enjoying this season of The Apprentice. However, I agree that it feels like Trump is trying too hard (I’m sure at the urging of the producers) to create more drama in the board room (for example, pretending to fire Liza and pitting contestants against one another), to the point where it sometimes comes off as gimmicky. Ironically, his son and daughter provide far more insightful assessments of the candidates performances than he has thus far.

      I also agree that the fact that the contestants are all victims (and I use the term loosely) of the recession is a non-starter. Most of these people will have no problem getting work as the economy stabilizes and recovers; the others are clearly unemployed for reasons other than the recession, even though the economy may have provided cover for their employers to cut them loose. That said, the opportunity for a quarter-million-dollar employment contract, along with the chance to showcase yourself on a global media stage, is still a pretty strong incentive for competing on the show–especially if you already have the acumen to successfully navigate the corporate world. If you are a really talented business professional, the exposure of being on The Apprentice, even if you don’t win the job, can’t hurt; it can only help. Both Kwame and Omarosa, as well as many others, are ample proof of that.

      That said, I don’t know if the show will ever seem as good to most of us as the first four editions of The Apprentice. (Hey, American Idol is not as good as it used to be either.) We may never see the likes of Kwame, Omarosa and Dr. Pinkett again. But after enduring the celebrity versions of the show, I’m willing to give the 2010 edition more time. Within the next week or two, the remaining weak links among these candidates will likely be eliminated, leaving the strongest candidates to compete; I expect the quality of the show and the impressiveness of the talent pool to improve dramatically by then.

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