- The Washington Times - Monday, February 23, 2004

And then there were ten. At the beginning of episode seven, there were ten Apprentices left for Donald Trump to test, try and torture before he ultimately will appoint one to win the grand prize, the presidency of one of his companies. Episode seven of The Apprentice brings us more meaty Trump-Onomics life lessons than any previous show. And it tossed us a several surprises that showed the value of grace under pressure, the high premium of being honest with ourselves when we botch a job, and once again taught us that good negotiating is a matter of both persistence, more than a little luck, and a gift for the blarney.

Episode Seven Update

This week, before the action even started, the Protg team, which had lost the previous two tests, had to pick one player from Versacorp to even the teams at five each. Protg picked Amy to join them. This week’s assignment was for each team to renovate two dilapidated Brooklyn apartments and rent them within 72 hours. Whichever team captured the greatest premium over the previous rent was the winner. Troy, the Protg team leader, was pitted against real estate expert Katrina, the Versacorp leader.

The sparks flew right away when Protg’s Troy out-witted Versacorp’s Katrina to win ownership of the undervalued $1200 apartment rather than the more steeply-priced $1500 apartment. Katrina’s Versacorp bought the services of a general contractor who sawed and drilled all night and transformed the Versacorp digs into the nicest of the two apartments but stuck with negotiating with only one buyer, got only a 10% premium over the $1500 previous rent. Troy’s Protg team did a nice job on the renovation, but far more importantly was able to negotiate with multiple renters. Protg’s price of $1525 per month, versus a previous rent of $1200, got them a 27% premium. The winning team won a sumptuous picnic at The Donald’s 55,000-square-foot mansion in Bedford, in Westchester County north of New York City. Called to the Board Room, Tami was hit with the Trump-A-Dump. As it turns out, Tami’s disloyalty to her team was ultimately a worse fault than the failure of her team’s leader to get a good price.

Episode Seven: Lessons Learned

Lesson One.

Ever heard the song “Queen of Denial?’ Katrina should be singing it in her sleep. When that Protg’s team leader Troy duped her out of getting the $1200 apartment that both of them knew had the greatest upside potential, Katrina insisted that this unethical experience had never happened before. In a Board Room confrontation following their loss, Tami countered Katrina’s claim that she had never been tricked. “We’ve been duped,” Tami said. Katrina knew that Tami was right and that Troy had gotten the best of her. Trump even told her so. But she remained in denial. Advice: Recognize that not everyone will work with the same set of ethics and integrity. So, when you get duped, admit it. Even Donald Trump will tell you when he has been had.

Lesson Two.

In the high-pressure world of New York City real estate, The Donald has seen many people crack. But what distinguishes the merely satisfactory from the truly great is grace and focus under pressure. During the early moments, Protg team member Heidi gets a phone call from her mother announcing that her mom has been diagnosed with stage one colon cancer and must undergo surgery. Heidi sobs. Team leader Troy consoles her. And in a touching moment, Trump calls her aside to ask how her mother is faring, and whether she would like to leave the show. Heidi shows true grit, chooses to stay and helps lead her team to a victory. Advice: In Trump’s world like most big business,working hard isn’t what you “do”, it is what you “are”. Work and winning isn’t just your profession it is your lifestyle. Heidi made a tough choice. And clearly, The Donald, given the same situation, would have made the same decision.

Lesson Three.

Disloyalty, not curiosity, killed the cat. Tami was disloyal to her team throughout the night. In a Board Room confrontation, she even said that her team leader, Katrina, was out-smarted by Versacorp’s Troy in the early negotiations. Her disloyalty robbed her team of precious energy at key moments, and helped lead to Versacorp’s ultimate demise. Advice: Neither bad negotiating skills nor poor leadership ranks as low as disloyalty. Dance with them that brought you, Trump says. Watch your teammates’ backs and they will watch yours.

In next week’s episode of The Apprentice, we are down to nine. With the teams shrinking it is harder to find another to hide behind or blame. How will they fare, and who is next to find Trump’s target on their back? We’ll tell you. Stay tuned.

Jay Whitehead is a leading workforce analyst and advisor for employees and employers. He can be reached at [email protected] Come see Jay Whitehead and the nations leading business executives speak, debate and exhibit at the HRO World Conference & Expo at the New York Hilton on April 14 -16, 2004. Learn more at www.hroworld.com

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