- The Washington Times - Monday, January 12, 2004

Last Thursday, the American workforce became “Trump-ified” by starting the 15-week course in Trump-onomics. No college credits here but lots of food for thought for those of us interesting in climbing the corporate ladder or just plain getting ahead on the job.. Beyond the mere entertainment value of the new reality show, this column will review each episode as a career tool for those of us climbing the corporate ladder. The 16 job applicants are a reflection of everyone’s work life written large, in neon. Each week we will discuss the actions and inactions of each candidate. The Donald’s reaction will offer us a bucket load of Trumped-up lessons for all of our work lives. So let’s get learning.

Episode Update

The candidates have been divided into two teams separated by gender. The women named themselves “Protg” and the men claimed “Versacorp.” In the first episode, Protg whipped Versacorp at the first business test, which was to sell lemonade on the streets of Manhattan. The winning team was the one that brought home the most cash by sunset. The women proved the better juice vendors by quadrupling their $250 starting capital, while the guys only doubled their money. Protg’s prize was a tour of Trump’s outrageously opulent New York City apartment and a face-to-face with his supermodel live-in girlfriend. The losers, the boys of Versacorp, got disgrace and the death penalty. According to the show’s formula, one of the losing team members gets called into the Board Room, Trump’s version of the woodshed, and gets fired by The Donald himself. Call it the Trump-A-Dump. In episode one, the deserving recipient of the Trump-A-Dump was David the MD/MBA.

Episode One: Lessons Learned

Ignore them at your own peril.

Lesson One. In Trump Town, more academic degrees suggests you are overly afraid of risk, which quickly leads to the Trump-A-Dump. Any true Trumpologist (which we will all be by the end of the series), knows that Donald Trump holds an MBA from the prestigious Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania but has been caught with a barely-hidden contempt for overly academic characters. This week David, an MD with an MBA, the most academic degrees of any contestant, got the axe. Trump’s degree-phobia makes the only Harvard MBA in the group, Kwame, a highly likely candidate for the Trump-A-Dump in a future episode. In fact, in episode one, Kwame showed an overly bookish weakness by locating the men’s lemonade sales team in the statistically-appropriate but retail-unfriendly tourist area at South Street Seaport, across from the stinky Fulton Fish Market. In contrast, the more street-savvy women set up their stand in the heavily-trafficked Rockefeller Center, one of the most desirable selling locations on Earth. Advice: If you have a lot of letters after your name, good for you. But true Trumpologists never forget the street.

Lesson Two. Physical stature equals leadership. The two tallest contestants, Omarosa for the women and the chubby Texan Bowie Hogg for the men, immediately became natural leaders of their respective teams. Both were picked to read the envelope which held the instructions for the teams’ first challenge. Both exerted a sometimes subtle, sometimes not-so-subtle leadership. Size matters. Advice: Keep in mind, if you are vertically challenged, you can still lead but you have to work harder to bump ahead.

Lesson Three. Beware the power of the henchman. In the show, Donald Trump employs two of his long-time hench-people, Caroline and George, to follow the teams and advise him. They whisper in Donald’s ear their opinions about who should live and who should die. Their body language speaks volumes to Donald. He takes cues from them. He trusts them. Advice: Give your boss’ hench the wrong hunch, and you are lunch.


And now, here is my workplace-expert viewer’s guide to the three characters to watch in Wednesday’s episode two of The Apprentice. First, Sam, who barely avoided the Trump-A-Dump in episode one will continue his over-the-top dot-com antics. He surely will not make it to the finish, but he will make great TV in the meantime. Second, Ereka’s immaturity will start her down the slippery slope to disqualification. And third, look for Omarosa to start solidifying her leadership of Protg by making alliances. 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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