- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Episode number two of Donald Trump’s The Apprentice represented another clinic in America’s 15-week TV course in Trump-onomics. After Thursday night’s prime-time punch-out in which another member of the mens team got the Trump-A-Dump, The Apprentice is down to 14 contestants. And while there are still a few obvious candidates for The Donald to drop-kick, it is also clear that Trump’s firing decisions are going to get tougher every time.

Episode Two Update

Again in week two, the women’s team, known as Protg, emerged victorious over Versacorp, the men’s team. Protg, led by their emotionally-zesty young team leader Ereka, won the contest to create the winning ad campaign for the Marquis Jet Card, a debit card that lets the holder jump a charter jet. For their winning effort, the women won a decadent trip up to Boston for an unmatched night on the town. The men, who were led in this episode by former advertising executive Jason, again went overly conservative and lost the battle. As is always the case on The Apprentice, a member of the losing team gets called into the Board Room, and gets fired. This week, the unlucky team’s leader, Jason, got the Trump-A-Dump.

Episode Two: Lessons Learned

Lesson One. Sex sells. In episode one, the women of Protg sold lemonade on the streets of Manhattan by kissing their customers and hiking up their skirts. And again, in episode two, the women continued their winning, yet wanton, ways. This time, instead of smooch-selling, they graduated to marketing their client’s charter jets as phallic symbols, and the jet service as a ticket to Testosterone-town. The Protg ad campaign presentation was classic team-based titillation, with all the women slickly selling their saucy message. But here is the danger. In the real world of cubicles and water coolers, we should acknowledge the limits of libido-laden work lives. Advice: Today’s workplace is all abuzz with amber alerts of sexual harassment and gender bias. Keeping it zipped from 8 to 6 is, for most of us, is still the road to the executive suite.

Lesson Two. In Donald’s world, always swing for the fences damn the torpedoes. Donny Deutsch, Trump’s partner for this episode and head of his own Manhattan ad agency, personifies this burn-the-boats-on-the-beach school of American advertising. Deutsch, who is also the host of the show The Big Idea on CNBC, looks like he spends five hours a day in the weight room. The women, proving that they are far more adept than the men at picking up on cues such as body language and innuendo, heard Deutsch’s “failure is not an option” speech at the beginning of the show loud and clear. The girls went right for the gusto. The men, on the other hand, hemmed and hawed and got hammered. Advice: Thinking outside of the box is critical to get noticed and make a difference.

Lesson Three. The men lost and Jason, their team leader got fired because he refused to meet Marquis Jet’s boss before they created their pitch. He refused to meet and greet with the Boss. The women did exactly the opposite. The first call they made was to set up a meeting to hear exactly what the client wanted, face-to-face. For those of you who are Trump-ologists, you know that the Donald’s dictum is “Never negotiate with underlings.” Advice: Jason died for this sin and so could you. Don’t just reach for the top, go there. Never be afraid to deal with the Boss.

Clearly, in the world of The Donald, deals are made hourly by all levels of the team. However, when the stakes are high (in this case it was a corporate image), sign-offs can only take place at the top so the negotiations may as well begin there too. Jason believing that “meeting” with the Boss was irrelevant to his goal of “pleasing” the Boss is an oxymoron of the worst kind. Making people or their ideas invisible will sink you every time whether you are working with your boss, peer or underling. Moving forward, I predict the women will have a firing of their own as the issue of internal “visibility” between Ereka and Omarosa is beginning to heat up. 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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