- The Washington Times - Friday, March 12, 2004

Only seven players left in Donald Trump’s 15-week reality show, The Apprentice. Each member of the two teams, the 3-person Protg and the 4-person Versacorp, have been on at least two losing sides. And some, like Troy and Bill, have experienced losing more than winning. Of all our Apprentices, Heidi showed the most wear and tear. Of course, she came by it legitimately after her mother was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery. Heidi’s reduced energy level and recognizing her shift in priorites came through earning her this week’s Trump-A-Dump.

Episode Ten Update

Troy’s three-person Protg team was up against team captain Bill’s 4-person Versacorp The winning team was the one that could manage a fleet of bicycle rickshaws (called Pedi-Cabs) for a day and earn the most money. Their strategy was to sell prepaid punch cards to hotels. The problem was that they had no buyers and no Plan B. Versacorp, on the other hand, started in the middle. They duplicated NASCAR’s successful idea and joined it with their own previously established relationships. By selling ads to hang in public view on the rickshaws, they earned $3,680 trumping the losers at $382.68.

The victors won a spectacular cruise around Manhattan on Trump’s Calypso yacht. The losers were called into the Board room. Troy fingered Heidi as the team’s weakest link, as did Trump’s hench-woman Caroline. That was all The Donald needed to shove Heidi the feisty, foul-mouthed street fighter, into the elevator and send her home.

Even though Versacorp scored a resounding victory, Katrina and Bill shared some harsh words when Katrina accused her team captain of sexism. She accused Bill of only respecting her for her “pinup doll looks,” rather than for her ideas.

Lessons Learned

Lesson One.

The big idea to sell advertising on every available surface of the Pedi-cabs was both instinctive and practical since team leader Bill knew that it would be hard to win by just selling individual tickets. The result was to use the established “transportation” business” of Pedi-Cabs to create a new “branding” business ” through Pedi-Cabs”. Advice: Donald Trump often cites a time-worn clich as the reason for his success. He thinks “outside the box”. Versacorp’s advertising idea wasproven in other industries (NASCAR, grocery carts, etc.) but it was ” outside the box” for raising capital around Pedi-Cabs. It rang the cash register. And won the day.

Lesson Two.

Troy’s idea of pre-paid cards was creative and theoretically could have brought home the bacon if he was able to sell them to hotels or another distributor. The problem: He had no relationships where he needed them. The advertising concept for Versacorp was brilliant because it allowed them to start in the middle — they were able to execute it by calling upon the sales-acceleration relationships they had established with vendors in earlier episodes and used team members Katrina and Aimee, who are professional sales persons, to close the advertising deals. Of Versacorp’s $3,680 in sales, over 90%, or $3,450 came from the ads. Advice: If you have to choose between a brilliant idea and the ability to execute well, always choose execution. Ideas are a dime a dozen. To reach and exceed your goals, execution is everything.

Lesson Three.

In his Board room, The Donald asked Troy why he should not be fired as the leader of the losing team. Troy said he believed himself to be a “born leader” and had it confirmed because he had been picked by his peers to lead three different times. And when Trump asked Troy whether it was appropriate for him to call himself a leader, Troy said, “heck, yes.” When asked the same question, Heidi had no such answer. Advice: Leaders own, claim and embrace their status — are proud of being out front — and never mind telling others about it. Clarity about yourself and purpose is critical and as Trump himself has demonstrated — self-promotion is a highly-valued skill.

Starting in the middle means think outside the box, execution is everything, and claim your purpose even if it means continuous self-promotion. Now it is on to Episode 11, where the teams are three-on-three. With such small teams, the suspense is heating up. The Apprentice is heading into its hand-to-hand combat phase. Stay tuned.

Jay Whitehead is a leading workforce analyst and advisor. He can be reached at [email protected] On April 14-16, 2004 at the New York City Hilton, come see Jay Whitehead and the nations leading business executives speak, debate and exhibit on the most talked-about topic in the country right now: Outsourcing. Learn more at www.hroworld.com/

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