The Apprentice 2010: Task 6 Performance Review

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

As project manager, Kelly literally phones this one in--and pays the price.

The 2010 edition of The Apprentice, NBC’s business reality show starring and executive produced by real estate mogul Donald Trump, features entrepreneurs and professionals competing for a $250,000 job contract with the Trump organization. Each week the contestants must complete a business task. The winners are rewarded; the losers must report to the infamous boardroom, where at least one candidate will be fired by Trump. This edition of The Apprentice features three African American job candidates: Kelly Beaty, Gene Folkes and Liza Mucheru-Wisner.

With each task of The Apprentice 2010, I will post performance reviews of the candidates, their teams and their project managers. In addition, I will assess the performances of Kelly, Gene and Liza for as long as they remain in The Apprentice talent pool.

Read and comment on other performance reviews of The Apprentice 2010 Tasks.

Leadership Lesson: There’s more to being a leader than holding a title. This is not a spectator sport–there is no excuse for not being on the ground with the troops on an important project. It’s not enough to have the right answer–a leader must ensure that the solution is implemented and executed.

TASK 6: Design, sell and conduct competing pedicab tours of New York City. All candidates must test for a license to drive the pedicabs; those who fail to earn a license cannot drive. The team that makes the most money on their tour wins.

Kelly, the star of Fortitude’s victory on the Rockport Fashion Show task, finally gets a shot to be project manager. Octane is led by Anand Vasudev, leaving Stueart Martens as the only surviving males yet to lead as project manager.

Anand and his team–with the exception of, you guessed it, David Johnson–rally around a Roman chariot race theme for their pedicab tour. Clint Robertson suggests pre-selling tour tickets to get a jump start on sales, an idea that Anand quickly approves. Without Gene (fired on Task 5) to serve in his unofficial role as babysitter for David (now nicknamed “The Virus”), Anand, Stueart and Clinton are long past their ability to tolerate his antics. However, they are able to get past the distraction, choosing to target tourists right in front of the Trump Building on Manhattan’s 5th Avenue. On the day of the tours, they enjoy steady business, with Anand personally taking point on sales.

Fortitude begins the task with a manpower advantage over Octane, six women to four men. They immediately lose some of that advantage when Kelly and Mahsa Saeidi-Azcuy fail to earn their pedicab licenses (everyone on Octane passes the test), leaving only Stephanie Castagnier, Poppy Carlig, Brandy Kuentzel and Liza to conduct tours. Kelly failing the pedicab test proves to be the least of her shortcomings as project manager, as she makes mistake after mistake. She puts Stephanie, a Canadian by way of Chicago, in charge of choosing Fortitude’s tour location. Not only does Stephanie not know New York City, Kelly, who has worked in New York, inexplicably stays in the suite at Trump Tower, “leading” on the task via cell phone while Stephanie, Mahsa, Poppy and Brandy drive around Manhattan in a van. Worse, when Stephanie calls Kelly to say that they’ve chosen the Wall Street area, in order to target wealthy men with a “Babes on Bikes” theme, Kelly allows them to go forward with the plan, despite knowing that tourists are the target customers. This disastrous decision dooms Fortitude, as there are few tourists on Wall Street, just workers who aren’t going to take time from their jobs (or even their lunch break, the only time Fortitude got a little business) to tour their own city.

The Result: Another lopsided win, this time for Octane, which generated sales of more than $950, against only $320 for Fortitude.

Who I Would Have Fired: There’s no way not to fire Kelly, which is disappointing given how she shined as the person most responsible for Fortitude’s victory on Task 5, the Rockport Shoes fashion show. Unfortunately, as project manager, Kelly literally phoned it in on this project, functioning as a leader in name only. Given that she couldn’t even drive a pedicab and was not a sales leader for her team (by her own admission), it’s hard to imagine a worse performance. For Kelly’s fans and supporters, this one had to be hard to watch.

Interim Evaluations of the Black Candidates: With Gene and Kelly getting fired on consecutive tasks, Liza is the lone remaining black candidate. Liza survived despite the fact that Kelly, her only defender among the ladies of Fortitude, pointedly withdrew her support after Task 5.

Dead Men Walking: I’m keeping David and Mahsa on this list. I’m also adding Brandy and Stueart. With the exception of her performance as Fortitude’s fashion show emcee on Task 5, Brandy has been a non-factor at best and the source of at least a couple of Fortitude’s failed ideas, including the underwhelming people-eating-popcorn-at-the-gym idea for Task 4. I really like Stueart (who doesn’t?), but I think of him, I see a great guy to have on the team, not a leader. He’d have to impress me as a project manager to change my mind. I don’t see that happening.

Who Will Be The Next Apprentice?: Of the remaining candidates, I believe Anand, Clint and Stephanie (in that order) have the best chances of landing the job contract with Trump. Plus, I will add my long-shot pick: Liza. The fact that none of the other women like or respect her will be a lot for her to overcome, but seems to have absolutely nothing to do with her actual performance. For her to make it this far, with almost no allies (Trump absolutely seems to like her), says to me she must have something going for her. If Liza can get a big win as a project manager (she and Brandy are the only surviving women who’ve yet to lead as project managers), she will officially be a force to be reckoned with. If Trump abandons the men-versus-women theme on the home stretch of this competition, as he has done in past seasons of The Apprentice and Liza hasn’t been fired yet, the odds of her winning shift dramatically in her favor.

Who do you think will be the next apprentice? Can Liza win? Will Mahsa make me eat my words? Leave a comment and let’s talk about it!

ACROSS THE WEB
  • @GetIncited

    This was definitely a hard episode to watch! Mr. Trump definitely didnt have any other choice in this matter, although Stephanie pick of the “location” was certainly their hindrance. I took away a good lesson from show thus far: If you are own the “Project Manager” role, its imperative that you balance delegation and ownership. You must be able to empower others to take on responsibility, but at the end of the day you also must take ownership for THEIR decisions. If I were in Kelly’s shoes, the doubt I had about the location early-on would have caused me to question and ultimately overrule Stephanie/Mahsa decision.

  • Calvin J. Adolph

    This may have been a hard episode to watch for some, but it only made things easy for me. B.E.’s star Kelly faded so fast that I almost forgot she even existed. When placed into the forefront she quickly relinquished her power back to the piranhas who were eager to bring her down. She never matured into the capable leader that we had hoped she would become (I guess if she had she would still have been with B.E.). The fact that she was dismissed so quickly after Gene tells me that no person of color will become the Apprentice (unless they were heads and shoulders above the rest like Dr. Pinkett. Yet, even he was asked to share his victory with a white competitor). Liza has no chance in hell of becoming Trump’s apprentice. It was obvious that Kelly tried to send a signal to Liza to side with her as she stood near the elevator. When asked who should be fired, all cards were in Liza’s hand to take Stephanie down. But we know what happened. Would B.E. consider writing a piece on the difficult relationship between African Americans and other blacks in the diaspora? At this point I believe that the job is Clint’s to lose (I forsee both David and Mahsa leaving soon as most people have grown tired of their antics. The rest of the cast has served only as filler, occupying space and wasting our time thinking that they may be worthy contestants). That being said, I must now respectfully disconnect myself from watching the rest of the season. If there are any lessons to be learned by the three black contestants I believe it is this: Being on Trump’s The Apprentice either magnified your weaknessess or proved that being on the show wasn’t necessary to further your business or career.

    • Alfred Edmond Jr.

      “Liza has no chance in hell of becoming Trump’s apprentice.” Whoa! Calvin, you are TOUGH! I agree that Liza’s boardroom decisions continue to be the most perplexing aspect of her candidacy for The Apprentice. She had nothing to lose by throwing Stephanie under the bus, although I don’t think doing so would have saved Kelly.

      I really like Clint, but I was more impressed by Anand. Why do you think The Apprentice job is Clint’s to lose?

      And finally: Do you really believe that Kelly being an African American and Liza being an American born in Africa played into their inability to establish a mutually beneficial alliance? I was under the impression that Liza and Kelly were allies for the most part, at least until the Rockport Shoes task.

      • Calvin J. Adolph

        Alfred, I have actually enjoyed giving a critique of each episode more than watching any of them. To answer your question, Anand is the new Kwame. He is more comfortable being a good buddy to Steuart that he will be terribly hurt when he sees that Steuart will be the person twisting the knife in his back. Despite Clint’s minor setback last week (he only said out loud what we have been screaming from the first episode, except he said it more nicely), he has played the game like someone actually applying for a job instead of competing on a reality show. We expect our leaders to not cower in the rear, but to lead from the front; to reign in disruptive colleagues (unfortunately, I wouldn’t have lasted past week one because I would have shut David down by force); and to keep us focused on the task at hand. I agree with others that the tasks have been simply ridiculous, and if asked to perform them for a real job I would have told them what they could do with their job. I don’t believe any of the women have come up with any creative strategies (can’t think of anything – sex sells; but then don’t expect to be treated as independent and strong if your only asset is, well you know). Steuart is just as superficial as the women, so don’t expect him to excel in anything outside of fashion (probably was a model in a former life). Clint plays the game by the textbook answer and will, therefore, be the apprentice (we need someone to play it right down the middle because we have been warned that we are in a recession, the sky is falling, etc.). Trump will take that any day before he takes a chance on the emotional, the weak, or the one trick ponies).

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

    After Kelly’s success during Task 5, I stated that she would now have to prove herself as PM and show that she has business acumen & leadership skills to complement her creative talents. There was a myriad of errors. Her first mistake was sending 4 people out to scout for 1 location. At least 2 of those individuals should have stayed on the homefront to brainstorm & decide on a sales strategy. Had that happened, perhaps they would have come up with a clever idea comparable to the one that Octane used to ultimately win the task.
    Her second mistake was the most fatal. She failed to follow her gut and veto the location decision. She had 2 opportunities to change the location-once when she initially found out about the choice and then again while in the midst of the failed task. During the task, she seemed to do nothing. Her posture (arms folded, walking around aimlessly) wasn’t conducive to an upbeat sales atmosphere. And I’m not sure that “roaring twenties” get up that she was wearing did much to help her either. I realize that she was trying to pitch the whole “Babes on Bikes” theme, but even if she couldn’t ride, she should have been dressed the part, energetically out in the street bringing potential customers to the pedicabs. Its hard to do that in pink pumps.

    The boardroom was interesting. Stephanie clearly lied-which was annoying to me. And did you see Liza’s face when she was targeted yet again? She almost crumbled. When Trump questioned her, she started out trying to defend her capabilities but then, as usual started rambling, talking about her golf scholarship, the population on planet Jupiter, etc…until he mercifully cut her off. I have Liza’s number totally. Remember the Tiana situation? Liza starts off implicating the person responsible for the poor decision-in this case Stephanie-and then she turns on who ever appears to be the weakest argumentatively. She now has had 2 missed opportunities to get rid of people who dont like her and keep potential allies. (I have no doubt that Kelly would have forgiven Liza had she supported her this time)

    Liza doesnt have a snowballs chance in Hades of becoming the next Apprentice. She’s weak, and I’ve said it before, she has no real strategy. She folds & throws the wrong people under the bus because she doesn’t trust her own ability to present a viable argument that would lead to their firing. In a nutshell-she has prolonged her time & avoided her destiny because she joins forces with her enemies to get the current PM fired-no matter who is responsible. That’s not strategy-that’s fear.

    I use the Apprentice as a character study-not for any real business or sales pointers. I find it fascinating that so many candidates particulary the African-Americans don’t know how to “play the game”. There are no allegiances. There are no friendships and the goal each week, in addition to securing a win for your team, is to expose the weeknesses of the stronger (or those that appear strong) teammates. Liza & David pose no threat. Why petition for either of them to leave unless you’re head to head against them in the boardroom? Case in point: Stephanie was “lovey-dovey” with Kelly last week-this week she was dishonest, harsh, and confrontational. Mahsa walked back to the suite hand in hand with Liza after Tiana was fired-but every week she calls for Liza to get the axe. I think as Black people we have a nature that causes us to want to trust and build friendships. But many times, especially in business that causes us to lose sight of the goal. I believe it was Kwame (during season 1) who was so friendly with Bill that he claimed he was just as happy that he won. WHAT??? You better believe Bill didn’t feel that way! In business, we have to learn how to forge (and pretend to forge) friendships for as long as they are beneficial to us. Sometimes they last-but most times they don’t. But we must keep our own success a priority.

    Calvin, I hope you reconsider. The desparities in business as it pertains to African-Americans exists and have always existed. Yes, Randall was the only contestant asked to share his win, no Gene’s reward for winning his task wasn’t aired and there are many more examples. Unfortunately this is the world we live in. But this year’s Apprentice has not shown any Black candidates who based on their performance, deserve to win so I’m not feeling any inequity. Stick around-I enjoy your input!

    • Alfred Edmond Jr.

      Great points, Nichole–as usual, you take no prisoners! So far, that’s two “no way in hell Liza wins” votes.

      On Kwame Jackson: I happen to think that Kwame got as far as he did, and could have won the first season of The Apprentice, because he was so good at exploiting his amiable, non-threatening, unflappable professionalism to create alliances and survive the boardroom. In other words, Nichole, I believe that was Kwame’s strongest asset. It became a weakness not in terms of his good will toward Bill Rancic, but his seeming inability to draw the hard line with Omarosa.

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

        Alfred I actually agree with you about the reasons why Kwame got so far. I’m speaking specifically about the comment that I believe he made about being just as happy for Bill. And you are right, forming alliances, when it makes sense, is good-allegiances?…not so much. I think we confuse the two sometimes.

        Speaking of Kwame…what’s he doing these days? Years ago he was supposed to have a huge real estate project that never happened & now it seems his neckware line is defunct. Bill is all over the media but you never see Kwame. Stand by while I jump back on my soap box….Ok-Are we (Black candidates) capitalizing on the exposure gained from The Apprentice? With the exception of Omarosa (for all the wrong reasons!) & perhaps Marshawn Evans, you rarely hear anything about them. I could be totally wrong & I hope I am, but if I use Kwame as an example, it seems that the priority was on popularity & less on a long term plan. I realize the majority of the candidates have disappeared into obscurity, but a number of them have used the exposure to their advantage. In fact Stephanie is currently working for the Trump organization-and the seasons not even over!

        • Alfred Edmond Jr.

          The mistake of confusing alliances with allegiances…WOW, Nichole, that is DEEP. I think you just peeped my hole card! LOL You just keep the wisdom coming, don’t you?

          I hadn’t heard that Kwame’s neckwear line, Krimson, was defunct. When I saw him several months ago (he came by the offices of Black Enterprise to record a salute to our 40th Anniversary) we were talking about him coming out with a bow tie line. I sure hope he’s still in business.

          But to your larger point, I don’t think The Apprentice has done much to raise the profile of the majority of the candidates, regardless of race, since it’s debut in 2004. I was just talking with Gene Folkes last week (yes, we did connect), and we agreed that other than Bill Rancic, Kwame Jackson, Omarosa, Randal Pinkett and Marshawn Evans, the average person would be hard pressed to name any of the past (nonceleb) apprentice candidates. That said, I try not to confuse lack of fame with lack of good fortune. For example, Tara Dowdell seems to have leveraged her experience into a solid career as a conservative media pundit and political/business strategist. I suspect that other candidates have benefited from their connection to The Apprentice, even if they haven’t become household names. I also agree with Calvin Adolph: the most successful candidates from The Apprentice would probably have been just as successful even if they had never appeared on the show or crossed paths with Donald Trump.

  • baberdashery@gmail.com

    I thought Task 6 would have been an easy win for Fortitude. I was wrong. Kelly disappointed me a PM, and it became pretty predictable that Fortitude was driving in the losing lane.  There are leaders that can definitely lead from a distance, however, Kelly isn’t one of them.  While on the selected site, she noticed that sells were slow, the target audience were busy working, and even suggested finding a different location.  Yet, she did nothing.  

    We all heard of “Market Research” right. Why didn’t Kelly ask current pedicab owners where the tourists were located and high volumes of foot traffic? Why didn’t she ask a fellow NY’er? As I was watching the show I was wondering the aforementioned. I believe that is what most of us would’ve done. Marketing 4P’s: Product, Price, Promotion and Place.  Product was a service; Price was determined by the duration of the route; Promotion was the slogan “Babes on Bikes” using sex as an promotion technique; Place -now that was their demise along with Kelly’s inability to lead.

    Liza! Really!!! Not a chance! She is way too emotional – I don’t mean passionate either — to be an effective leader. I can’t see it.  I like Clint’s leadership, motivational skills, team player ability, and his direct style.  I think Anand did a swell job this task, but I don’t know if he has what it takes to become Trump’s Apprentice. 

    I don’t know if it is just me, but I don’t see a lot of passion from any of the candidates to become Trump’s next Apprentice. I hear it throughout the show, but it hasn’t really been displayed yet!

    • Alfred Edmond Jr.

      Wow. ANOTHER “no way” for Liza. Thanks for the excellent comments and analysis.

      Everybody knows that the “sex sells” strategy is what The Apprentice teams fall back on (especially the all-female teams) when they don’t have any ideas. That said, even “Babes on Bikes” would have worked if they actually targeted TOURISTS (even shallow, chauvinistic male tourists) as their customer.

      But all of your observations were right on point. I covered most of them in my original draft for this post, but there were so many missteps, it was getting way too long, and was beginning to feel like piling on, so I cut to the foundational misstep of failing to target the right customers.

  • Alfred Edmond Jr.

    Nichole, Baberdashery;

    Calvin Adolph says he feels The Apprentice job is Clint’s to lose. Do you agree? Who are your respective Final 4 picks? Who has the best chance at winning the whole thing, in your opinion?

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

      I’m going to say Anand, Clint, Brandy & Mahsa in that order. Anand is sharp, focused & if you notice, although the Village Idiot (David) gets under his skin, he stays focused-especially in the boardroom. Clint is strong, capable & likeable but I was disappointed that he chose to try to get a “special firing” done for David. It wasn’t necessary & it shows some level of weakness. Brandy flies under the radar and I agree with you that she hasn’t done very much, but I saw how starry eyed Trump was with her after she MC’d the fashion show. He even said that he would hire her on the spot as a spokesperson for his organization. Trump seems very impressed with attractive people, that coupled with the fact that she hasn’t made any major errors might buy her some more time. Finally, Mahsa simply because for some odd reason the ladies (with the excpetion of Stephanie) seem to be scared to death of her. And we KNOW we can count on good ol’ Liza to save her in the boardroom!

      I think Anand will win it all. In fact, “The Donald” may already have his company badge printed!

  • baberdashery@gmail.com

    Clint’s job to lose…well, I think the apprenticeship is up for grabs. Clint, in my eyes, is not the best candidate for the job. I don’t think he is polished enough.  My final four, this is tough Alfred, but I believe the following candidates will be the final four in the respective order: Steuart, Anand, Clint, and Brandy. I think Steuart is going to shine as PM. I consider Anand to be strong player but I don’t see him winning it all.
    If I recall correctly, Kwame received a lot of press and it was reported that he made several key connections with various department stores to carry his Krimson line. As far as the bow ties, however, stay tuned for BaberDashery line of bow ties. Alfred, you’re in the top ten to receive a complimentary bow tie in the 1st Quarter of 2011.

    • Alfred Edmond Jr.

      Wow! More bow ties! I can’t wait–thanks!

      I’ll accept one complimentary bow tie, on the condition that I pay for at least two more (assuming I like your styles). Everyone knows that I hate hookups!: http://www.blackenterprise.com/blogs/2009/12/03/why-i-hate-the-hook-up/

      • Calvin J. Adolph

        Thanks for the post about hookups. It was very helpful.

  • Sharon Jackson

    I was so sad that Kelly failed miserably on this task. After she failed to get her pedicab license, I wanted her to get on top of her business strategy and show that she was able to lead in other areas particularly in sales. Despite not having any previous experience in sales, I wanted her to roll up her sleeves and dive in. Instead, she stood back. One cannot lead from behind and she was behind the entire time. Kelly gave away all tasks and all responsibilities. It was a true show of her leadership skills.

    I have never been to New York but I know that a pedicab ride is usually a touristy attraction and in a tourist driven city like New York, they needed to be where the tourists were. Kelly should have pulled rank on the location. Certainly people on Wall Street would perceive a pedicab ride as a waste of time choosing not to take the time to indulge. It was not rocket science. I do not have a problem with four people scouting locations if the four people were all in different places getting valuable information. I do have a problem with four people in the same van. In their plan to find the right location, Fortitude should have included speaking to established pedicab companies as Ivanka suggested to see where the action really was.

    All in all, I do respect Kelly for being a true professional in the boardroom and speaking articulately about the task at hand. I could see Liza having a nervous breakdown while weeping uncontrollably if she was on the PM hot seat.

    Liza WILL NOT be the next apprentice. Did anyone notice her being in near tears, again, in the boardroom? As the camera panned to her red, watery eyes, I rolled mine. Liza has made it this far due to sheer luck. Liza is too weepy and emotional to work in the throws of corporate America. Mahsa shares the same chance as Liza for being the next apprentice. Mahsa is as much a bulldog as Liza is weepy and emotional. Neither trait is good.

    I think Clint will surprise and pull out the eventual win though I’m not ruling out Stephanie.

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