- The Washington Times - Friday, February 6, 2004

In episode number five of Donald Trump’s The Apprentice, otherwise known as the Human Resources Power Hour, we got another crash course in Trump-Onomics. With the men’s team, Versacorp, down to 4 members versus the women’s team’s 8, the Donald instituted a corporate reshuffle, reorganizing the remaining 12 into 2 teams each featuring 2 guys and 4 women. With the reorg, Trump’s would demonstrate how the real survivors are those who best embrace change.

Episode Five Update

This week, the two teams were each given $1000 to buy inventory to sell at the Saturday flea market in downtown Manhattan. The newly-reconfigured Protg team, led by restaurant manager Kristi, lost after misplacing, dropping, or having had stolen $186 of their cash somewhere between Chinatown and Midtown and posting a $75 net loss (even without missing money, the minimal profit was the result of poor creativity, planning and strategy). Nick’s team won by salvaging a garment rack out of a construction trash bin, buying a crate-load of cheap T-shirts, adorning them with fancy ribbons, marking them up resulting in a $600 profit. The winners got a once-in-a-lifetime visit to Yankee Stadium to meet Trump’s buddy and the legendary owner of the New York Yankee baseball club, George Steinbrenner. For the losers, team captain Kristi was the self-proclaimed culprit for her team’s failure. In the end, as the leader of the losers, Kristi got called to the boardroom by The Donald and got the Trump-A-Dump. On her way to the exit, Kristi gave us three remarkably good business lessons.

Episode Five: Lessons Learned

Lesson One.

The greatest leaders make their mark in times of great change. The status quo, in Trump’s world, is for losers. As any true Trump-Ologist knows, Donald Trump has made most of his money by managing to over-achieve at times of greatest upheaval. So this week’s first lesson came right up-front, when he stirred the pot by completely re-aligning the two teams. Like Donald, great leaders will succeed during times of confusion better than those who are addicted to the status quo. Nick confidently deferred to the women because he had been watching them win over and over. Advice: When outside change hits, change inside and recreate yourself in the image of those who have done well. The secret to upheaval is to erase your past mistakes and walk the path of the winners who have come before you.

Lesson Two.

Trump is famous for tooting his own horn because if we don’t believe in us, who will? Nick was the perfect self-promoter, exuding confidence worthy of The Donald himself throughout his team’s day of flea-market victory. Kristi, the loser’s captain, on the other hand, was the picture of self-defeatism, self-doubt and her cry of “I don’t want to be a dictator” left her leadership role purposeless. Advice: Managing by consensus may sound great in theory, but leading requires focus and confidence. One of the many keys to success is making a decision and confidently executing, rather than polling the group.

Lesson Three.

We learned that winning means not being afraid of losing. Nick, who had been on the losing men’s team all four previous episodes, had no fear. “I’ve been to the board room so many times that I am not afraid of losing,” he said, in a confidence-bathed moment that seemed to literally launch his team to victory. Trump’s own career has been a long series of stare-downs with scary situations. Advice: There is nothing quite as deadly for a leader as showing you are scared. There is a reason that Donald Trump wrote that the reason he never sheds his suit jacket is so nobody ever has the chance to see him sweat.

In next week’s episode, look for The Apprentices to get a bad case of Valentine’s Day fever. If workplace romance blossoms, I predict more backstabbing will ensue, and the winning team will be the one who is not distracted and focuses forward. Stay tuned.

Jay Whitehead is a workforce analyst and advisor on employee and employer relations. He is publisher of HRO Today Magazine (www.hrotoday.com) and Chair of the HRO World Conference (www.hroworld.com). Please email Jay with your questions and comments at [email protected]

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