The Apprentice 2010: Task 5 Performance Review

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On Task 4, when Wade deferred to Clint Robertson’s determination to be project manager despite promising Trump he would lead on that task, many (including Clint) believed that Wade was unprepared for leadership. On Task 5, Wade leaves no doubt of that. Rather assessing their abilities and assigning tasks, he pretty much let’s his team do whatever they want. Gene volunteers to emcee (citing experience with public speaking), but says he’s also open to David Johnson filling that role. When David says he absolutely wants to emcee, Wade, instead of making the call, gives both of them the job as co-emcees. Wade suggests that Anand Vasudev and Stueart Martens handle wardrobe for the models. After that, it’s unclear who’s in charge, as Wade seems like a mildly irritated bystander, not the project leader on this task. It’s clear during Octane’s disastrous rehearsal that David and Gene are totally unprepared to emcee the show, largely because Gene, caught up in the minutia of shoe descriptions, has not come close to completing the script. As for Octane’s fashion show theme: there was none.

The Result: Fortitude put on an excellent fashion show. In fact, with the exception of the model showing off his scratched-up legs, it was perfect. By contrast, Octane’s show started off badly and got progressively worse with each agonizing stroll up the catwalk, as Gene (left twisting in the wind at the podium by David) stammers and stumbles through his “narration”, screwing up names of models and shoes while awkwardly holding notes on paper in one hand and an open laptop in the other. Another lopsided win, this time for the ladies of Fortitude.

Who I Would Have Fired: Prior to the boardroom session, I would have fired Wade, who was absolutely brain-dead as project manager. Even if he wanted to give Gene and David the benefit of the doubt, there’s no way to justify his not jumping in with both feet after Octane’s disastrous rehearsal and taking over emcee duties himself if necessary. Actually, the best solution would have been to assign the task to Steuart, the Octane team member with right combination of smarts, charm, good-looks and chutzpah to wing it. He certainly would have gotten the models’ names right, having happily spent most of the previous day shopping with them.

That said, and even though I make my firing decision before the boardroom sessions during which Trump makes his call, Gene deserved to be fired–not so much because he was such a disaster on the task, but because he literally asked for it. I believed that his ego just couldn’t take being presented on national television as poor and inarticulate speaker, and that Trump harping on his terrible performance as emcee caused Gene’s pride to get the better of him. How else do you explain his telling an obviously agitated Trump, “You can fire me if you want to”, knowing his terrible performance had already given the real estate mogul plenty of cause to do so? Wade was fired because of his performance on the task. Gene could have survived his poor performance on the task. He was fired because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut in the boardroom.

Interim Evaluations of the Black Candidates: Gene is gone, and that’s a shame. He’d shown himself to be an impressive performer through the first four tasks (including his win as project manager on Task 1), and I believe Trump would have given him the benefit of the doubt if Gene had held his tongue in the boardroom.

Kelly did an excellent job of coaching the models and running the fashion show on this task.

For the first time, the producers of The Apprentice allowed Kelly to shine on this task. Her coaching of the models to demonstrate the “walkability” that is the unique selling proposition of the Rockport Shoe brand (encouraging them to bounce, skip, stretch and jump in the shoes) and her idea to close out Fortitude’s show with the models wearing only underwear with their shoes were major factors in Fortitude’s win. She loses points for ignoring Liza’s suggestion that a model with scraped knees should not be modeling shorts (and unsuccessfully trying to play it off in the boardroom). But she did an excellent job of demonstrating that selling, especially in fashion, is about showing, not just telling. Maybe Gene was too busy memorizing the design specs of each shoe to read that memo.

Liza’s candidacy continues to be problematic. It’s not good that Kelly dismissed her not because Liza was wrong, but Kelly doesn’t seem to respect Liza enough to care what she thinks. If Liza has lost the respect of Kelly, one of the easiest of the women to get along with, what hope does she have with the others, including Stephanie (who’s openly declared Liza the team’s weak link) and Poppy (who Liza called a “bitch” after Task 2).

Dead Men Walking: David and Mahsa, with no new additions. I’m tempted to add Liza to the list, but I’d really like to see her get a shot as a project manager before giving up on her.

Do you agree or disagree with my assessment? Could Gene have avoided the axe? Was I the only screaming “SHUT UP, GENE!” at the television? And is Liza “dead man walking?” Leave a comment and let’s talk about it!

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