- The Washington Times - Friday, December 3, 2004

Finally, we were down to the Fab Five of Season 2 of Donald Trump’s NBC reality TV show, The Apprentice. Back to profits, the two teams had to make the product and then sell it and whoever made the most money would win. First, they had to manufacture a bushel of them and then get enough bars through M&M;’s quality inspectors. Where they sold them and for how much was at each team’s discretion. The old adage of power in numbers did not apply here. Despite Apex having 3 members to Mosaic’s 2, the Apex team had a dismal failure with leader Ivana bought a bitter trip from the suite to the street.

The remaining 2 Mosaic players, Jennifer and Sandy, fresh from the previous episode’s Board Room screaming match in which they fought like rabid cats, played a perfect game—it was positively a melt-in-your-mouth-not-in-your-hand strategy. By contrast, the Apex 3, Ivana, Kevin and Kelly, sold their limited inventory too cheaply to beat them.

Episode Update:

With Apex team member Kelly exempt from firing in this episode, both Kevin and Ivana knew they were on the hot seat. All members of the Apex team had accumulated telling track records in the game thus far. Kelly and Kevin both brought winning records as project managers—3-0 and 2-0, respectively. By comparison, Ivana brought a dismal 2-0 record. So when Ivana volunteered to be the Apex team leader, she dragged her losing streak along with her like a heavy bag of M&M; Mars bars.

Before hitting the streets, each team first had to manufacture enough inspection-perfect bars to create inventory. Because each M-Azing Bar is solid chocolate with floating M&Ms; inside, making a bar is much harder than it looks. Over several hours, the final approved tally gave Apex 323 bars and Mosaic had less at 290.

With their limited inventories, both teams decided to hit Wall Street to catch the hungry crowds on their way into work. The Mosaic team of Jennifer and Sandy focused perfectly on the task. As if on command, the pair morphed into Barbie-doll-perfect twin Super Selling Sisters. They termed this strategy, appropriately, “buying candy from the eye-candy.” Dressed alike in red shirts, jean skirts and high heels - the Apprentice gals priced their bars at $5 each, jumped into an M&M; Mars promotional van, and wildly worked Wall Street.

Apex’s Kevin, feeling uncomfortable with the task, ran a fire sale almost immediately by dropping his price to $1 per bar. As Apex ran through its supply, Ivana, fearing that the $1 price point was too low, panicked and decided that she could sell bars for $20 by offering to drop her skirt. She showed some skin and sold some bars, raising Apex’s average sale price. But it was too little, too late. The Barbie dolls of Mosaic, dressed to kill, had already won with their $5 strategy. Mosaic’s take was $1,023.11, compared with Apex’s meager $560.75. Mosaic’s prize was a trip to Chicago to meet Season 1’s champion Bill Rancic, who toured the duo through his project, the Trump International Hotel and Towers. Meanwhile, in the Board Room, Kelly and Kevin helped The Donald decide that Ivana’s losing record and her ill-considered strip tease act were enough to give her the Trump-A-Dump.

Lessons Learned.

Lesson 1.

When you have limited supply you must price ‘em high. With only 290 bars to sell, Mosaic knew that with some skillful salesmanship and marketing, they could get $5 each. After all, they correctly reasoned, these were no ordinary candy bars—they were hand-made M-Azing Bars by beautiful babes. Apex, on the other hand, ignored the laws of supply and demand, and priced their rare goods just like common commodities.

Lesson 2.

Presentation is often worth more than the product. In Mosaic’s case, their presentation added $4 to the price of each $1 bar. Dressed as M&M; Tasty Treats, Jennifer and Sandy kept their dignity while generating added excitement to the product. Their appearance added even more value than the M&M; brand did.

Lesson 3.

Know your opponent. Any true student of Professor Trump knows that The Donald makes a study of his opponents and competitors. Ivana, Kevin and Kelly missed the boat on this one. The Apex team clearly underestimated their bubbly blonde adversaries, and got handed a lopsided loss.

Next episode, it is down to the Final Four, and the team format goes away. It is every person for him or her self. More like boxing than basketball. That means even more lessons for true Trump-ologists. 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 the guest will be former U.S. Olympic Ice Skater, Bonnie Blair. Email your questions and comments to [email protected]

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