assigned to her, including securing props. Meanwhile, Stephanie is clearly out of her element, a source of mounting exasperation to her photography director. When he asks if she has a concept written down for him to follow, she replies that she has a handwritten one, written in the truck on their way over to the studio. They shoot the first scene, featuring workers around a conference room table who turn to mobile TV to provide desperately needed energy to the meeting. The second scene attempts to recreate an outdoor sports setting indoors using a painted sky backdrop and improvised stadium seats. “Stephanie is all over the place,” says the photography director. “This is literally the high school version of film school.” In editing, the office scene is wordy and difficult to cut, prompting Stephanie to kill the sports event scene altogether. When Liza suggests that a product mention is needed at the beginning of the commercial, Stephanie again rejects her input, insisting that it be put at the end. Liza feels the resulting commercial is “embarrassing and laughable.” Stephanie believes she’s hit “a home run.”
Steuart, fresh off of a strong performance on Task 9, takes charge as project manager for Fortitude, assigning presentation to Brandy, creative to Clint and the final edit of the commercial to himself. After initially agreeing on a “family on the go” concept for their commercial, Clint has “an epiphany”–an odd-man-out theme featuring a guy who keep missing out because everyone but him has mobile TV. Steuart is not totally sold on the concept, but goes with it in the interest of staying on schedule in the execution of the task. Meanwhile, Brandy is not invested in the task: “[The concept is] “not my baby” [and] “I don’t have a lot of sentimental attachment.” In other words, she voluntarily accepts a role for Octane that Stephanie forced upon Liza, just doing what she is told, no more and no less. That said, Steuart is a focused and effective task master, tempering Clint’s passion for perfecting the commercial with a firm commitment to finishing it in time to make the presentation deadline. With Clint as the star of commercial, they finish with three scenes: Clint as the only one in his family missing out on mobil TV, the only guy at his office without it, and finally emerging from an AT&T store, no longer left out, as a happy new consumer of AT&T Mobile TV.
Stephanie makes a polished and compelling presentation of Octane’s commercial. By contrast, Steuart also makes a good introduction to Fortitude’s commercial; but Brandy is clearly not engaged, despite her reputation as a strong presenter established with the Rockport fashion show task. Closing out Fortitude’s presentation, she stumbles and bumbles despite having printed notes in hand.
The Result: Octane’s concept is judged as a fundamentally flawed concept: marketing the idea the people should watch mobile TV at the office instead of doing their work. (The sports event concept, which was scrapped, should have been kept.) Also, their commercial takes too long, a full 18 seconds, to even mention the product. By contrast, Fortitude not only opened and closed their ad with product mentions, but they did a great job of explaining the attributes of AT&T Mobile TV throughout, while targeting multiple demographic segments. Fortitude, led by Steuart, earns the win.
Who I Would Have Fired: Stephanie wanted sole authority over the concept. The concept failed. The locations or lack thereof, which Stephanie repeatedly tried to scapegoat Liza over, were irrelevant. Good bye, Stephanie.
Who Will Be The Next Apprentice?: With Stephanie firing, we now have our Final Four: Clint (2-0 as project manager), Steuart (2-0), Brandy (1-o) and Liza (0-1).
Clint is still the clear favorite to win. Coming up with the “odd-man-out” concept and starring in Fortitude’s commercial, he easily eclipsed Brandy and nearly outshined PM Steuart on this task, pushing hard for his ideas without ever crossing over into insubordinate behavior. The competition is still his to lose.
Steuart delivered his strongest performance yet, and despite my insistence that he had no chance of becoming the apprentice, he’s made a strong case for being at least in the Final Two for the decisive last task. Kudos to Steuart on making me eat my words.
Liza makes it to the Final Four, becoming only the second black female candidate to make it this far in the competition (excluding the celebrity versions of the reality show), the first being Roxanne Wilson from The Apprentice Season 5. However, Liza, the only one of the Final Four with no project manager wins, will have to hit it out of the park next week to make the Final Two.
Brandy is in the Final Four by sheer luck. Since her victory as PM on Task 8, she’s been coasting as member of Octane, riding the talent, work and creativity of Steuart and Clint. She’s even fallen short in her one supposed area of strength, public speaking and presentations, not because of lack of ability, but lack of engagement. She’s blamed her position as an outsider to Steuart and Clint, who have been teammates since the beginning of the competition, but that should be an incentive to prove herself, not shrink back. If she doesn’t step up in a major way on the next task, there’s no way she makes the Final Two.
After the next task, two candidates will be fired. For my Final Two choices, I’m sticking with my favorite and my long-shot: Clint and Liza. (Hey, I’ve gone this far betting on Liza; no sense jumping off the bandwagon now!)
Who do you choose for your Final Two? And who will be the next apprentice and why? Leave a comment and let’s talk about it!