The Apprentice 2010: Task 8 Performance Review

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. Of the three African Americans featured on this edition of The Apprentice, only Liza Mucheru-Wisner remains. With each task of The Apprentice 2010, I will post performance reviews of the candidates, their teams and their project managers.

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

Leadership Lesson: Great leaders listen closely and intently to the members of their team, and they pay even closer attention to when their team members disagree with a chosen course of action or see a flaw in its execution. To ignore dissenters in favor of only those who agree with you and tell you what you want to hear is to court disaster.

TASK 8: Produce 4-page advertising layouts for Donald J. Trump Signature Collection of dress shirts, ties and cuff links for department store retailer Macy’s. Layouts will be judged on creativity, brand integration and overall presentation.

As anticipated, Trump abandons the men vs. women theme this week, reassigning Clint Roberston and Steuart Martens to Fortitude and Stephanie Castagnier and Poppy Carlig to Octane. Brandy Kuentzel, the only candidate yet to lead on a task, is project manager for the revamped Fortitude. David Johnson becomes the first candidate to get a second shot as project manager; he was Octane’s losing PM on Task 2.

Eager to build on the momentum he gained during his strong performance on Octane’s winning effort on the backers audition (see Task 7 review), David attacks this task with confidence and enthusiasm. Octane quickly decides to go with a black and white theme for their ads, with only the shirts, ties and cuff links from the Donald J. Trump Collection in color. Stroking David’s fragile ego with plenty of positive reassurance, Stephanie quickly establishes herself as an ally in David’s eyes. Not so much for Anand and Poppy. When the time comes for Octane to select models, David immediately fixates on a tall, slender male model. Despite having earlier assigned Anand and Poppy to work with the models, he insists on this particular model being the “face” of the campaign, citing his “regal, youthful” look. Anand and Poppy have their doubts, but when Poppy points out that the clothes don’t fit properly on David’s lead model (his neck is clearly too small for the shirt collar), David dismisses her concerns. Similarly, when Anand, who worked with the photographers on the shoots, tries to help David with photo selection, David sends him away while muttering a stream of obscenities (telling Stephanie that he “hates that m—f—“). David further alienates Poppy by taking her to task for failing to get food for the models. But when Poppy suggests that the last page of their ad layout should feature product photos sans models, David approves the idea, willing to surrender the one page in return for near-absolute creative control over the other three.

When Clint suggests that their campaign should focus on money, power and sex as the key elements of the Trump brand, Brandy and the rest of Fortitude embrace the idea. This includes Liza, who suggests that Fortitude’s ad layout tell the story of a day in the exciting life of a man, at work and at play, who wears the Donald J. Trump Collection. However, Liza is uncomfortable with a campaign that is too overtly sexual, fearing it could hurt the Trump brand. Brandy, on the other hand, is excited about the sexy aspect of the idea, and moves forward without hesitation. After tasking Clint and Liza with shopping for clothes for the models, Brandy faces a setback–Fortitude’s models are late, with an unknown ETA. Facing a tight deadline, Brandy decides that she and Steuart will serve as the models for the first shoot, a sexually charged, “morning after” bedroom scene. Liza’s concerns about the edginess of the ads is heightened when the sex theme spills beyond the bedroom, to a Happy Hour image of Brandy with Steuart’s hand on her bare thigh, showcasing Trump Collection cuff links.