- The Washington Times - Monday, March 1, 2004

We’re more than halfway through the 15-week show The Apprentice with only nine candidates left. This week’s two teams, Protg and Versacorp, continued to sharpen both their daggers and their tongues. I counted nine profanity bleeps before the first commercial break. (Take note: the female contestants accounted for six of the violations.) The stakes must be getting higher when the censor has to be this busy. And while emotions ran high, too much passion proved fatal for Versacorp’s team leader Ereka. She got the Trump-A-Dump and went from the suite to the street.

Episode Eight Update

This week’s winners would be judged on how many cases, pallets or truckloads of Donald’s newest thirst-quencher, Trump Ice Spring Water, they could sell in two days.

In the end, Ereka’s team rumbled, stumbled and bumbled their way to a loss by focusing on fighting over how to sell a case at a time to individual restaurateurs and shops. Troy’s Protg pros caught the winning wave by selling truckloads through a couple distributors, who signed up for large repeat shipments. Troy, the only contestant without a college degree, showed oceans of leadership in the win. And the victory bought him and two teammates, Heidi and Amy, a memorable chopper flight around Manhattan on Trump’s helicopter. To make Versacorp’s low sales volume problem even worse, team leader Ereka botched the paperwork and could hardly tell Trumps team how much they did or did not sell. In the end, Protg sold $6,283.45 worth of Donald’s drinks, to Versacorp’s $4,015.92. For Ereka’s team, the water wars were a complete wash-out, and she got swept off the show.

Episode Eight: Lessons Learned

Lesson One

In The Donald’s business world, just like ours, listening skills are often the most important tool. In selling Trump’s bottled water product, Troy’s Protg team heard their New York City customer’s biggest problem loud and clear: if we buy lots of your water, we have no space to store it. In Manhattan, it’s the space, stupid. So if you are going to sell lots of product, you are going to have to find someone who will store the stuff for you until you need it on the shelf. Hearing the needs of his customers, Troy decided to focus on selling to distributors, who not only would store product for small retailers, but would also buy by the truckload. Advice: Listen hard for your customer’s biggest problem. If you can solve it, you will sell more than just a case at a time, you will sell by the trainload.

Lesson Two

Donald Trump made most of his big money at times where he could get real leverage. In episode eight, both teams started out selling water one case at a time, shop-by-shop. But when Troy heard that his customers wanted the product, but had no space, he hit upon his own version of “leverage,” selling through distributors. Advice: In your business, look for “a point of leverage,” or, as the venture capitalists call it, an “accelerator.” Accelerators come in many forms, a distributor, a partner, a financier, a mentor. The faster you find one, Trump says, the faster you will win.

Lesson Three

In the London subway, or Underground, signs say “mind the gap” between the platform and the trains. But in Trump Tower, there should be signs saying “mind your mood swings.” Ereka got the Trump-A-Dump because she let her emotions get the best of her. She violated one of Trump’s rules, “never let them see you sweat” the reason that you will never see Trump take off his suit jacket. As Nick said to Trump in the Board Room, “She un-nerved the troops” and thus did not have what it takes. Advice: Cool it. Stay focused on the task and manage the hysteria because the noise it creates will keep you from hearing your customers and team.

Listen hard, find a business accelerator, and keep your emotions under control were this week’s three Trump-Onomics lessons. Next weeks show will be down to eight, a four-on-four battle in which the alliance-making will start in earnest. But who will they be following the lessons learned thus far? 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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