- The Washington Times - Monday, March 29, 2004

This week only six contestants were left of the original 16 who are competing for the position of President at one of Donald Trump’s companies. The Apprentice candidates still standing were Nick, Katrina, Amy, Troy, Kwame and Bill. This week’s Trump-A-Dump seemed destined. Katrina entered “in” by behaving “out” with her whining and complaining that she has more to offer than her good looks. As the entire team performed disastrous, Trump had to review the histories of the board room finalists, and in the end, Amy’s string of victories tipped Trump in her favor. Here’s what happened.

Episode Twelve Update

This week Trump sent the two teams to Atlantic City. The challenge was totally Trump. In one day, from 10am to 10pm, the team that could get gamblers to spend the most money at the Trump Taj Mahal casino would win. The spending would be verified by a registration of new gamblers who would then be issued casino player cards.

The Versacorp team. led by Amy, decided that it would raffle off a one-day rental of a high-end Chrysler car worth $300. Protg’s more successful promotion, led by Kwame, drew a big crowd by bringing a tiger (borrowed from the casino’s magic show) into the lobby and registernig gamblers with a wheel-of-fortune-type game to win $1000 cash.

While the tiger was a nice touch, the most important part of this winning strategy was when winning team player, Bill, negotiated exclusive rights to solicit the high rollers at the VIP registration area. By focusing on the big fish gamblers, Bill was able to ultimately lock down the victory for Protg. While the losing team’s car-rental-raffle brought in 1,337 players, the customers only spent $105,362. The winning wheel-of-fortune contest and high-roller roundup only corralled 776 players but the spending was higher at $123,519. Thus, Protg’s focus on VIP’s easily beat Versacorp’s pedestrian volume.

The victors won a wild night on the house at the Taj Mahal, gambling with $3000 of Trump’s cash and staying in a suite larger and almost as magnificent as Trump’s own Manhattan apartment. In the Board Room, Versacorp captain Amy, who had never before been on a losing team, had to face Trump for the first time. From the Board Room, Amy got to take the elevator up to the suite. Katrina took it down to the street.

Lesson One

In their attempts to attract registered gamblers, both teams tried to out-shout each other with lobby microphones. Unfortunately, the distraction was so great they clearly scared away customers or distracting them away from the gaming tables. Advice: While recruiting new customers is important, never forget the goal of sustaining the satisfaction for the customers you already have. Make sure your promotion is compelling, but your customer service maintains the goal of ringing the cash register.

Lesson Two

Pay no attention to the tiger in the lobby. The real victory was sealed when Bill brilliantly negotiated exclusive rights to solicit the high rollers in the casino’s VIP registration area. When Amy realized that Bill was reeling in the big fish, she sent in bait of her own using models but she was a day late and a dollar short. Bill’s focus on the big fish and ability to scare the competition away won the day. Advice: If the goal is to capture the largest amount of money (rather than the most profit), then tap the big spenders. Usually, big spenders are usually fussier than budget-conscious customers but when top-line totals are what counts, big spenders will be the key to the win.

Lesson Three

In the Board Room, Trump berated the promotional strategy of a cheap $300 one-day luxury car rental. The reward did not match the mentality of the audience. With an audience of chance players, a car promotion should be a give-a-way not a rent-one-day. Advice: Make sure your promotion matches your purpose because the choice of promotion suggests the behavior you are trying to inspire. A chance at a $300 car rental may have been fine for a grocery store promo, but not appealing to serious gamblers who betting (and losing) thousands at the tables.

This week we learned again the importance of understanding the customer to reach your agenda. Never distract them from spending their money, focus on the big fish, and match your promotion to your goal. Now it is on to episode 13, where the teams are two-on-three. With such small teams, the contest is getting intensely personal, like all good workplace wars. Stay tuned.

Jay Whitehead is a leading workforce analyst and advisor for employees and employers. He can be reached at [email protected] On April 14, come meet Jay Whitehead and the nations leading business executives when they speak, debate and exhibit at the HRO World Conference & Expo at the New York Hilton. Register for the event at www.hroworld.com.

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