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"The Apprentice" (Spoilers)

Well, I disagree with the Trumpster across the board, and want to point out one massive failing on his part.

Pitting a team of eight against a team of five in running Planet Hollywood (a huge restaurant) was an interesting challenge, but I'm a little unsure if it's a realistic challenge - I think restaurant cycles are measured in months, not hours.
To then criticize some of the kamikaze tactics used by both sides was somewhat hypocritical.

I think Trump only kept Nick around for entertainment value - the man is a backstabbing snake, and belongs in arbitrage or negotiation, not leadership. Even if he didn't agree with a particular tactic, he didn't have to completely check out of the team - just dissociate himself from that task.

Bowie didn't help himself by waffling on the "get Kwalme's signature" thing. (by the way, how come nobody pointed out that those people who paid for autographs would be pretty happy when the show came out? ;) )

Finally - I *strongly* disagree with the lecture Trump gave the women. First of all, I'm a strong proponent of "use every weapon in your arsenal." But more importantly, how can you assign a team of good-looking women these tasks:
- Street sales
- Marketing
- Negotiating with retail vendors
- Maximizing sales in a Planet Hollywood
And NOT expect them to use sex to sell? Every one of those tasks *begs* for personal charisma.

If he didn't want to see sex used, he should've assigned a task that separated the players from the ability to use their bodies. One possibility - give each team a room of 25 people picked at random. They have to hire ten salespeople who will then be judged by who sells the most.

Philo

Philo
Thursday, January 29, 2004

Trump reprimanded them because they are winning without showing qualities that would make them good at being his apprentice (unless he's looking for a hot chick to bang while on business trips).  They deserved it, if you ask me.

Having said that, he should have blamed himself for choosing challenges where sexuality is such an advantage, if he's looking for someone who can hold a job in which sex appeal doesn't help much.

T. Norman
Thursday, January 29, 2004

That's exactly my point. It would be like having Schwartzeneggar vs. 90lb weakling guy in the following tasks:
- Get a 10lb ball the farthest the fastest
- Move a stack of large steel plates
- Move a VW bug sideways

Then bitching out Arnie for constantly using his muscle instead of his head. Duh.

Philo

Philo
Thursday, January 29, 2004

Philo,

I think someone behind the scenes might have screwed up when he/she/they decided to create one team comprised of young women and another team comprised of young men. Then again, the TV show might be progressing exactly as planned. Those who know the real truth won't be talking anytime soon.

Imo, having the game participants act like "real managers" would have been a mistake because then the TV show would be mirroring reality and lose much of its entertainment value. The TV show COPS does a relatively good job of mirroring reality, however, I don't believe too many people would want to spend an hour each week watching managers performing the type of work they typically do on daily basis.

 
Thursday, January 29, 2004

Sales, Advertising, Negotiations, Management.

I don't see that women necessarily have an advantage, or that men are "90 lb weaklings" in these fields.

Of course, in just about all of these situations (except Advertising) the women turned them into Sales situations, which they're good at.

====

Based on their behaviour in the board room, I think I'd make the same decision Trump made. Kwame didn't impress me much one way or the other. Bowie waffled and proved that he was afraid of being wrong by straddling both sides of the fence on a sensitive issue. Nick stood up for himself and manage to take the heat off by shining it somewhere else.

In my opinion, the failure of this particular project was in the hands of the team leader. There was a full day where they could prepare for managing a restaurant and I didn't see any of them researching, coming up with a game plan, scouting the area, or brainstorming ideas.

The most spectacular thing Kwame did this whole time was sat and signed autographs. Bill took charge and really deserves special recognition for what he did, though I don't know that giving away $600 or more to the waitstaff was the right move. I really forgot who the team leader was for a moment or two, and when I remembered... well I noticed he wasn't doing anything.

But Trump didn't see any of this, he only saw what happened in the board room. He didn't see Nick promising revenge for Sam getting fired, he didn't see Kwame doing nothing, he didn't see Bowie going from table to table selling merchandise.

www.MarkTAW.com
Thursday, January 29, 2004

"Nick stood up for himself and manage to take the heat off by shining it somewhere else."

That's evil. I would *always* fire that person first. While Bowie's behavior was equivocal, that can be addressed. Nick's behavior was actively insidious, and that can destroy an organization.

I also forgot to give kudos to Kwalme - he was the first leader into the boardroom who gave strong objective reasons for the two choices he made to accompany him.

Bowie waffled in the boardroom, but he hasn't been in a position to perform, and we don't know how he would've performed under stress. From a management perspective, Sam, Kwalme, and Nick were all given chances to redeem themselves, but Bowie was simply shot in the head.
Like I said before, I suspect that was an entertainment move, not a business move.

As for what Trump knows and doesn't know - he knew about Sam falling asleep on the job. I wonder if he gets to see the tapes or can only go by what his agents tell him.

Oh, and Nick's "I will be Sam's agent of vengeance" - ick.

Philo

Philo
Friday, January 30, 2004

www.MarkTAW.com wrote, "But Trump didn't see any of this, he only saw what happened in the board room. He didn't see Nick promising revenge for Sam getting fired, he didn't see Kwame doing nothing, he didn't see Bowie going from table to table selling merchandise."

How do you know that Trump doesn't know everything? Perhaps his executive managers phoned him several times throughout the day or told him everything that happened during the day right before the two teams came into the boardroom to hear the results of their competition?


www.MarkTAW.com wrote, "Sales, Advertising, Negotiations, Management. I don't see that women necessarily have an advantage, or that men are "90 lb weaklings" in these fields. Of course, in just about all of these situations (except Advertising) the women turned them into Sales situations, which they're good at."

In the real world the women probably wouldn't have an advantage. I bet besides a classroom setting none of  Donald Trump's current executive managers have ever managed or came up with an advertising campaign, negotiated for single item low priced merchandise/services, or sold individual glasses of lemonade in downtown New York. While the women were able to get the gold dealer to take a loss on one bar of gold, I seriously doubt they would have been able to accomplish the same results had the number of gold bars that needed to be purchased had been something like 200.

I agree with you that the men could have done a better job of performing some of the tasks they have been given so far. That said, I also believe given the parameters of the game having two teams comprised of both men and women is better for the men. Also, sexuality then becomes a tactic/strategy/issue for both teams.

Instead of people making comments such as "the women only won because they sold sex" you would probably get people saying things such as, "I think Kwame screwed up as project manager. He should have asked the women on his team to wear tight t-shirts and have them sell drinks or handout coupons just like Nick's team did the day before."

The show is pure entertainment and nothing more -- I say enjoy it for what it is, but don't try to read more into this show than what is really there. Managing (especially at the executive C level) is essentially nothing more than decision making. Sure some CEOs do sales/presentation work (i.e. beg for investment money) and negotiate business deals, however those tasks tend to:

* Affect entire organizations
* Be very complex
* Involve a lot of people.

Imo, what the two teams on this show are doing each week is more like deciding when to reorder office supplies which is a less complex task that involves far fewer people.

One Programmer's Opinion 
Friday, January 30, 2004

Philo,

I can't help but disagree with your 'use every weapon' philosophy.  The women's tatics might work well when playing a game, such as The Apprentice, but not as business strategies managers employ in the real world. 

Tonight's episode was a terrific example of that.  Yes, the did win, but you will note that they also got reprimanded by the GM of the restaurant.  He had very valid concerns about safety of the patrons, coupled with the legal implications that the establishment bears when they leave the premisis.  In addition, they were drinking on the job.  Would you tolerate that type of behavior out of your leadership team?  Finally, they produced good results for a single night.  Were they sound, long term profit and growth strategies?  Hardly.

I think Trump was correct in telling them to smarten up.

Canuck
Friday, January 30, 2004

Actually, a few thoughts about the guys team.

In this particular event, I thought that they had a massive advantage over to women.  Not boobs and legs, but *time*.  They had a full day and a half to prepare for this project.  It really looked like they spent it goofing around ... oops, I mean 'team building'.  When I am getting my ass kicked this badly on national TV, I would have sure as hell made sure it didn't happen again.

Kwame had 36 hours to lead this team to victory and he came with ... *drum roll* ...  Kwame Jackson autographs.

You sir, should have been fired.

Canuck
Friday, January 30, 2004

The one key management skill that the men consistently lack is the ability to prioritize.

Did the men ever go talk to the restaurant manager and ask what items had the best margins? One of the women quickly figured out that booze had a good markup and you could sell $20 worth of it a lot faster than you could sell $20 worth of merchandise.

Did the men determine which items had the biggest markup in the negotiating challenge and prioritize of those?  No, they prioritized their day around the gold - a commodity with razor thin margins.  The women may have gotten a sweet deal on the gold due to sex appeal, but they made their biggest gains on the golf club and the leg wax.

Did the men realize that talking to the customer should be their number one priority in the ad campaign? Nope, but the women sure did.

Prioritization is one of the most important management skills I can think of, and the men are consistently blowing it. So don't discount the women as though they've won just on sex appeal.  They're a creative, quick thinking, and business saavy bunch that knows how to prioritize and pull together even when there's in-fighting.

Nick
Friday, January 30, 2004

Canuck, they won by maximizing their strategy *within the parameters of the competition*.

Their job was to make maximimum profits in one day - that asks for slash and burn tactics, because they don't have to care what happens next week.

Regarding drinking on the job - I'm glad you brought that up. When I saw the women doing shots with the customers, I happily thought *that* was what they got reprimanded for instead of the sex thing. But I don't believe Donald and his assistant mentioned the drinking, did they? It was just about using sex to sell.

Philo

Philo
Friday, January 30, 2004

"I think restaurant cycles are measured in months, not hours. "

Speaking as a Former restaurant manager, they're measured in hours.  Usually a restaurant manager will be able to see his labor costs for the hour, food costs, the total sales, etc..., and then be able to compare it to that day last week, last month, last year. 

As for using whatever weapon you have.  Being overtly sexual will work in a one-off instance, where you don't have to build a relationship.  But if you have to build relationships, as most salespeople do, eventually you'll develop a reputation as being slutty and no one will want to do business with you.  Seen it happen, think it would make a good general rule.

The Ted
Friday, January 30, 2004

Ted, how would you have boosted revenues if you were on the guys' team?

I'm pretty shocked that the guys didn't talk to the manager and say, "We need to boost sales for tomorrow, what can we do to achieve that?"  Surely he'd have a pretty good idea?

And I'm sure incenting the sales staff with $25 would have worked as well as $100, that was a waste of relatively precious resources.

If you were on VersaCorp what would have done to boost sales?

Lou
Friday, January 30, 2004

I would really have liked to see this show done with people picked for brains instead of looks.  I know Trump claims this is the case but it is clearly crap.

The women have one strategy for everything- "sex sells".  I think it is wrong that they won the advertising competition when the advertising guy clearly stated that their campaign would fly in the real world.  The guys went with something that would but didn't "think out of the box".  How were they supposed to know.

With everything the guys have no coherent strategy and minimal planning it seems.  When the one guy went in for a leg wax his tactic was just to ask her to do it for free because it would be fun to wax a hot guys legs.  He couldn't help laughing when he said it.  Why not come up with a story beforehand and plan for contingencies?  They have nothing!

I hope one of these competitions deals with money, finance, at least calculating simple interest.

name withheld out of cowardice
Friday, January 30, 2004

Don't really know if I would've done anything different, Lou.  The 2 different places where I managed the owners took care of all the marketing.  I was strictly operations.  A place like planet hollywood will already have a good system in place, so changes in operations would have negligible effect. 

You need to have some sort of a promotion.  I thought hitting up the tour buses for merchandise was a good idea, as was pushing the drinks.  The places I worked didn't sell liquor, but we had a healthy markup for soda and beer.

What I don't think anyone has mentioned is that one of the women is a restaurant owner.

The Ted
Friday, January 30, 2004

While I agree with Nick that the women haven't just won each round on sex appeal alone, I am going to try and refute some of what he wrote.

The most recent episode

I don't believe the men ever talked to the restaurant manager, however, I don't believe the women did either. While one of the women quickly figured out that booze had a very good markup, I wonder if this person was or wasn't the women who just happens to own a restaurant?


The negotiation/scavenger hunt episode

As for the gold bar fiasco, Kwame mentioned to Sam over the phone that he was wrong about the price of gold and was making a foolish decision when he demanded that the team stop what they were doing and leave Chinatown. Btw, whomever was standing next to Kwame when he was on the phone thought Sam was nuts as well. Of course, Sam paid the price for this executive decision and got booted off the show.

As for the women saving a lot of money on the golf club and the leg wax. Well, didn't the women purchase the golf club inside of Chinatown? How do we know that this expensive golf club was the real McCoy and not some cheap ripoff that was manufactured in China? As for getting a great deal on the leg wax, I would expect that the women would know where to find the best deal on this service. Besides bodybuilders how many men wax their legs?

Did the men determine which items had the biggest markup in the negotiating challenge and prioritize? No, but neither did the women. Both teams had the same plan which was to go to Chinatown and try to find the best deals possible on as many items as they could find. The men screwed up by not following their original plan.

Could the men have won the negotiation/scavenger hunt episode? Perhaps they might have if Sam had stuck to the original plan and the office team had used the World Wide Web better than they did to search for the best deals in New York.


The ad campaign episode

Did the men realize that talking to the client should be their number one priority during the ad campaign episode? Actually some of the men did but those individuals were overruled by the team's Project Manager who got booted off the show.  I didn't like this episode simply because Trump relinquished too much control to an ad agency. Imo, Trump or the airline customer should have the made the "who's ad campaign was better" decision maker rather some ad agency execs.


Nick wrote, "They're a creative, quick thinking, and business saavy bunch that knows how to prioritize and pull together even when there's in-fighting."

Well, the results speak for themselves. The women are better than the men at playing this particular game. Also, it seems pretty obvious to me that this game favors those individuals who are able to think on their feet and make quick decisions.


Nick wrote, "The one key management skill that the men consistently lack is the ability to prioritize."

Prioritization to me means being focused on the end result. I think both groups have been doing this. I haven't watched all of the episodes in their entirety, however, this is what I have observed so far. Sam was a weak link on the men's team and the men elected to the Project Manager position made some bad executive decisions. As for canucks comment about the men having a full day to prepare, perhaps the men weren't allowed to do any planning or strategizing while the women were running the restaurant? The executive manager in charge of watching over the men didn't mention anything to Trump regarding what the men did or didn't do on their "day off".

One Programmer's Opinion
Friday, January 30, 2004

Philo,

It was the General Manager of Planet Hollywood that intervened towards the end of the girls shift regarding the drinking.  He was nothing short of livid.

I agree that the girls are playing the *game* better than the men.  I was simply illustrating that as management strategies, they don't go very far.

Canuck
Friday, January 30, 2004

Incidentally, let me point out again that this discussion is why I think this show is an awesome leadership training tool - in and of itself the show isn't that great, but it provides *perfect* fodder for a lot of leadership topics.

I think I could build an entire semester-long MBA course around the season. :-)

Philo

Philo
Friday, January 30, 2004

I agree with that idea Philo, I watch only so I can think, "What would I do in that situation?"

I suspect I would have probably turned to Mr. Trump after the assignment was given and said, "Are you aware that by asking for a one time boost to sales you're inviting poor business practices?  We can definately boost sales, but anything beyond a certain margin is going to be cause for concern, not celebration."  There's absolutely zero interactivity there and that's a bit disconcerting.

Knowing absolutely nothing about running a restaurant, I probably would have spotted a few of the smarter wait-staff and asked them what we could do to boost sales for one night.  I'm sure a few of them have good ideas running around their heads.

Lou
Friday, January 30, 2004

Incidently Philo at some universities, it is required in the Business schools.  My sister presently attends UNC and while a hot discussion topic, it is not required, although from what I hear, at other universities (notably Ivy's) it is required.

Elephant
Friday, January 30, 2004

One Programmer's Opinion,

When I talked about prioritization I meant in terms of the leader - not only identifying the priorities, but also sticking with them.  Also, if the objective is to make more money, than prioritization in that case would be to brainstorm ways to achieve that, then identifying which ones give the biggest bang for the buck.

Nick
Friday, January 30, 2004

Which of these people would you hire right now?  Since we haven't been able to see them all as one group, pick 1 man and 1 woman.

My picks:

- Bill
- Amy

Nick
Friday, January 30, 2004

Troy (seems the only one in the group who can stay focused on the big picture)
The woman who ran a restaurant, who I think played her knowledge very well last night.

Philo

Philo
Friday, January 30, 2004

"Managing (especially at the executive C level) is essentially nothing more than decision making"

Many managers think that. They're doomed to mediocrity.

Philo

Philo
Friday, January 30, 2004

I saw the girls find out what the margins were early on, they were surprised that liquor was only 25% of the profits, becuase memorabilia accounted for much more than they thought.

At the end of the negotiations episode (with the treasure finding) they said they went after the items that had more room to negotiate.

So I think Nick (the one that posts here) has a point. The men consistently fail at setting priorities, they just charge ahead and hope that the first strategy that comes to them works.

===

It is interesting that Bowie was not involved in the cross fire and was the one that got fired. Bowie didn't get blamed for anything - he didn't slack in his job, and he didn't do anything that was morally questionable. All he did was not sell consessions as well as the women (which Trump pointed out), but nobody did anything as well as the women.

It's obvious to me that Trump has an opinion of these people and it has nothing to do with their actual performance at the tasks they're given, remember Nick was an early favorite of Trump's. Probably because they buy their rugs at the same place.

I bring up the waffling because in the first episode it was the guy who said he didn't know if he would do as well that he fired. An "I don't know" is much worse than emphatically defending your position, even if you're wrong.

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, January 30, 2004

MarkTAW:

I agree with you 100% minus the rug comment, but I guarantee you that the shows producers are exerting considerable influence on the selections.

Reality TV is nothing of the kind.

name withheld out of cowardice
Friday, January 30, 2004

My thought was that Trump's warning to the women was for a few reasons:

1. The women had won every challenge, so they hadn't gotten critiques of their methods through the "firing" process.  Firing one of the women for offering nothing but sex would have gotten the message across.

2. The producers had seen how cheezy (if effective within the game) their behavior was, knew it would offend some of the audience, and so had Trump call them on it, thus having it both ways.  Attactive women prancing around scantily clad AND morality, honor, female virtue being defended (by Donald Freakin' Trump!).

I think where they went over the line was goading some of the male customers into buying shots.

Anybody know when is G-String Divas starting up again?

Contrary Mary
Friday, January 30, 2004

This is the guy I want lecturing me on sex in the workplace:

http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=3584225781&category=611

;-)

www.MarkTAW.com
Friday, January 30, 2004

Umm, Hello?  That's not the workplace, that's a publicity photo.

Time to hop on board the cluetrain, son.

Jorel on Software
Friday, January 30, 2004

If your publicity photo is on the cover of Playboy, and includes a woman who quite possibly may have a naked picture or two on the inside of the magazine, then complaining that people shouldn't use sex to sell things is, um, not going to look so clever.

Noone said it was a photo of a workplace. He said it was a photo of a man who occasionally talks about workplaces.

Would you like to buy a clue as well, pops?


Saturday, January 31, 2004

I think this show is semi-fixed.  Trump has kept Kwame around mainly becasue he is a Harvard Alumni like Trump.  The very 1st week, Trump pointed out that the location that the men chose was instrumental in their failure.  Kwame chose the location.  Then when it came down to Kwame being a project manager, he failed miserably, in addition to being extremely unethical.  He hasn't done a damn thing since that show and he is staying out of the way of all these other projects.  It wouldn't surprise me if he ends up getting the final job.  If so, he will probably run the company into the ground.

My final four is:  Nick, Bill, Amy, Ereka

Nick C.
Wednesday, February 25, 2004

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