- The Washington Times - Friday, May 13, 2005

In the next-to-the-finale episode of Season 3 of The Apprentice, Book Smarts versus Street Smarts, there were only two women left standing. Kendra, the realtor, has the college degree, and three wins as a project manager to her credit. Tana, the street-smart cosmetics entrepreneur, has only two wins but she left two kids and husband at home to chase her Trump dream. Professor Trump treated us to plenty of drama and lessons to take to work while we wait for next week’s Apprentice crowning.

Both finalists were served up the most complicated event-management challenges of the season. Then, to double their difficulty, each got dealt 3 fired Apprentices as teammates and horribly tough event venues.

Kendra’s event was the Best Buy Video Game Championship. She was saddled with two major sponsors to keep happy, EA Sports and Sony Playstation. And her event location was a two-story mansion that was so dreary it threatened to scare Playstation away.

Tana’s event was the NYC 2012 Athlete’s Challenge, a star-studded sports promotion for New York City’s Olympic bid. Her nightmare came in the form of dozens of desperately needy celebrities, including teams of Olympic track and field athletes, gymnasts and swimmers including Bruce Jenner, New York Governor Pataki, and of course Donald Trump himself.

And although with more moving parts, some might conclude that Tana’s event had a higher degree of difficulty, the two finalists’ real difficulty was in managing their former Apprentice employees. Kendra drew the chronically creative Danny, domineering Michael and the beauty queen-turned-lawyer Erin. Tana was paired with bossy Bryan, reformed nicotine-chewing and anger-management victim Chris and foul-mouthed Kristen.

Tana’s team quickly formed a mutual-contempt society, which resulted in myriad missed opportunities, mistrust and miscommunications. Kendra, by contrast, had her formerly delinquent squad working together with passion and pleasure. By the time the events finished, Kendra was hugging her teammates and crying tears of joy, and Tana was making sure she left the building through a different door.

Turning Points

Kendra nearly lost the contest at the start due to sponsor disappointment. First, Best Buy mistakenly met with song-and-dance man Danny, whose excessive creativity nearly made them bolt. And second, Playstation nearly ran when they saw their event’s raw space. But Kendra’s sponsor salvage efforts turned the tide. She wrestled Best Buy away from Danny and gave them confidence with a guided tour. And Michael went from malcontent to miracle worker transforming Playstation’s venue into videogame nirvana. Her laser-like focus on pleasing her sponsors turned the 16-contestant Video Game World Championship into a super success.

Tana’s turning points came later but they turned against her. First, Tana failed to proof-read the event brochure in which Kristen published bad news about an athlete. So the brochures went in the trash, and the event went brochure-free. Second, the team bratty behavior bested Tana’s ability to serve all her needy celebrities. And third, she failed to furnish Governor Pataki with an American flag during the procession, which cost her points when the Gov complained about it to The Donald.

Lessons

If we could choose everything — we’d all be at the top. True Trumpologists know that leadership is about making lemonade from lemons. Both Tana and Kendra were dealt tough hands—nasty events, dastardly employees, surly sponsors and celebrities. In Trumpland, results come from managing well, no matter what the circumstances.

Disrepect is a two-way street. Tana called her team “idiots,” “dumb and dumber,” and “the three stooges.” And the employees’ contempt for her was just as bad as hers for them. We even mimicked them under her breath and rang her hands as if she were shaking off cooties from a visibly sick person. Her lack of respect yet willingness to delegate without oversight was a bizarre mix and caused her failures.

Know your audience. Kenda knew her success was in sponsor satisfaction. She listened to their concerns and set out to fix it above and beyond their expectations. Tana continued to operate the event based on her needs. She let Pataki wait in the car for over 30 minutes because the printer hadn’t delivered the brochures yet. If she could wait, he could wait. Wrong! Kendra knew the Championship was the action but the sponsor promotion was the purpose which created a tone that couldn’t be beat.

In next week’s final episode of Apprentice 3, Book Smarts vs. Street Smarts, we will find out which of the two types of smart Trump adores more. After this episode, Kendra has a clear edge. But wait until we hear from the employees. Stay tuned.

Jay Whitehead is America’s most-read, most-watched and most-listened-to expert on workstyles and careers. Email your questions and comments to trumponomics@aol.com.

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