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

Of course, James was a terrible project manager on this task. He failed to understand the business and was clueless about how to establish good team dynamics. But that’s not why I fired him. My reason is that he’s actually just like David–undermining and negative–only he doesn’t have the balls to say it to your face. James prefers to sow seeds of doubt and discontent with questions and side comments delivered in a calm, seemingly innocuous way. David is the time-bomb that can go off at any time. James is the slow, insidious, malignant cancer. Both are dangerous threats to an organization. And when confronted, both plead innocent and even claim to be oblivious of the destruction they cause, feeling themselves betrayed and victimized.

The good news for Octane is that, with the exception of David, they are all out of obvious weak links. This should give them an edge over Fortitude on the next few tasks.

Interim Evaluations of the Black Candidates: Again, Gene did not distinguish himself positively or negatively during his team’s failed execution of this task, unless you blame him for losing the nails for Octane’s decor project for the entrance to the pet spa. I don’t; the entrance decor was meaningless to this task. And again, we didn’t get to see much of Kelly. (She shares some of what was not shown during a live chat at BlackEnterprise.com immediately after last night’s show aired.)

Is Liza emotional? Yes. But that doesn't make her unqualified to be The Apprentice.

Liza calling Poppy Carlig the “b-word” after Task 2 was raised in the boardroom this week, with Stephanie continuing to insist that she is the weak link among the women and that her use of profanity is proof of Liza being too emotional and deserving of termination. I agree that Liza needs to better manage her emotions (she almost came to tears as she defended herself in the boardroom). However, I don’t believe her use of the b-word automatically means she is out-of-control and unfit to be the next apprentice. Let’s compare Liza to David, who is emotionally volatile and unprofessional. His use of profanity was public (in the presence of a client, the pet store owner), directed at a superior (James his project manager) and in the middle of the task, on the job. Liza’s was private (by reality show terms), peer-to-peer (with the task complete, Poppy was no longer her project manager) and after the work was complete, in a social setting.

While you’ll never hear me call anyone the b-word (or the n-word), Liza’s use of the word, in and of itself, does not make the case that she is unprofessional or emotional. If that were the case, she would have flipped out when she found out about the file errors for the graphics she designed with minutes to spare. Instead, she focused on solving the problem, venting her emotions (without attacking anyone) only after the issue was resolved. Moreover, Liza has contributed to both of Fortitude’s victories, and was not a factor in her team’s loss on Task 1.

Dead Men Walking: For obvious reasons, David stays on this list of job candidates who have no chance of becoming Trump’s next apprentice. I’ve also decided to add Mahsa to this list. Again, Mahsa is a pit-bull, meaning her natural, instinctive response to most problems, threats and challenges is to intimidate and go on the attack. That instinct makes all kinds of sense when operating in adversarial situations and environments, such as the criminal court system that Mahsa participated in as district attorney, but it’s just not what you want in a leader.

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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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