- The Washington Times - Friday, December 10, 2004

The semi-finalists for Donald Trump in The Apprentice Season 2 were Jennifer, Kelly, Kevin and Sandy. The game shifted from a team sport to a test of individual skills. The Donald switched from interviewing by contest to doing it the old-fashioned way by having: executives grill each candidate, eyeball-to-eyeball. In classic Trump style, The Donald presented the big league of corporate titans to do the dirty work: Alan “Ace” Greenberg, Chairman Exec Committee of Bear Stearns, Allan Jope, COO of Unilever HPC, Dawn Hudson, President of Pepsi-Cola North America, and Robert Kraft, owner of the World Champion New England Patriot football team. And after Professor Trump’s fearsome foursome had fiercely flogged all four finalists, he flunked Sandy and Kevin with a double Trump-A-Dump and graduated Kelly and Jennifer—Season 2’s Terrific Twosome.

Episode Update:

In the final analysis, the Final Four were two different types of candidate. Sandy and Kevin were the under-experienced corporate neophytes. Both were eager and impressive, but weak in complex corporate competition and inter-cubicle intramurals. Sandy was the entrepreneur, self-taught, lacking a college degree and contempt for those who had them. Kevin had diplomas galore, but lacked hard knocks other than those from a college football field. Kelly and Jennifer, both veterans of boardroom battlefields, Kelly in software and Jennifer in the white-collar war rooms of San Francisco law firms. Jennifer had done background on Trump’s employee count and recent revenues while Kelly retold his many successes as an Apprentice team leader. They backed up their battle scars with big-time diplomas, Kelly from West Point and UCLA and Jennifer from Princeton and Harvard. So when Trump’s Inquisitors predictably preferred Kelly and Jennifer, The Donald’s decision to whack greenhorns Kevin and Sandy at the half-way mark was easy as aim-and-fire.

In the Board Room, Trump set up next episode’s final competition by bringing back six fired competitors: Elizabeth, John, Raj, Chris, Pamela and Stacy. Kelly and Jennifer were asked to pick three to be their employees. Although he had never worked with her, Kelly picked Elizabeth first, then John and Raj. Jennifer grabbed Chris, Pamela and the other attorney, Stacy. Jennifer was assigned to manage the Trump Charity Basketball Cup at NYC’s Riverside Park sports complex and Kevin was charged with managing the Trump Polo Cup at the Greenwich Polo Club. Both of these events are sponsored by Genworth Financial Services. Their representatives will be monitoring the events from beginning to end and reporting their recommendations back to Trump. In early scenes from the competition, both teams gave the sponsor (and us) reason to be nervous giving us a cliffhanger for next week’s grand finale.

Lessons Learned.

Lesson 1.

Corporate chiefs like those who remind them of what they value in themselves—discipline, leadership and accomplishment. Trump’s Fantastic Four team of interviewers all went ga-ga over Kelly’s military experience and track record of orderly success. Even if he was a little stiff, as Pepsi-Cola’s Dawn Hudson observed, the chieftains, including Trump himself, preferred Kelly hands-down over others because he reminded them of their favorite subjects: themselves.

Lesson 2.

Resume-building is not enough—accomplishments matter more.

All of Trump’s big league execs criticized Kevin’s background as big-hat-no-cattle. Bear Stearns’ Ace Greenberg said it best: “Unbelieveable resume—for what?” All the interviewers preferred a mix of academics and practical experience, which fits with what all Trump-ologists know are The Donald’s preferences as well.

Lesson 3.

Fighters enjoy fights—they see themselves in the winners. Donald Trump is a fighter—whether battling back from bankruptcy or dueling ex-wives over his billions, The Donald loves to duke it out. Trump enjoyed and praised Jennifer’s Board Room assault on hapless Sandy, taking special glee in Jennifer’s point that Sandy lacked the “intellectual horsepower” to grasp the complexity of Trump’s business. Jennifer’s coup de grace was making Sandy admit she was unaware of the size of Trump’s giant 15,000-employee workforce. Like all great fighters, Trump enjoys the spectacle, especially when the contestants are fighting over him.

Next episode is the three-hour extravaganza to crown the second Apprentice who will be rewarded with a job as President of one of his companies. Expect the Terrific Twosome to pull off their respective events, then tear into each other in the Board Room, live before a studio audience. The casinos say it is even money. Place your bets now. And stay tuned.

Jay Whitehead is America’s most-read, most-watched and most-listened-to expert on workstyles and careers. You can listen to Jay Whitehead on web-radio every Tuesday 5pm to 6pm EST when he hosts Won on Won with Whitehead on www.businessamericaradio.com. This week Jay’s guest will be former Apprentice Wes Moss from Season 2. Email your questions and comments to trumponomics@aol.com.

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