- The Washington Times - Monday, November 1, 2004

In last week’s Donald Trump’s NBC reality TV show, The Apprentice, it was down to 11 players. And we saw the Donald do something we have never seen in two seasons: he said “You’re Fired!” without the need for a 2 or 3 person high-drama return to the board room. Some might even term Trump’s board room first as a mercy firing. Apex team leader Elizabeth was so incredibly bad—Trump sent her from the suite to the street without even a chance to defend herself.

In episode 8, the contest was creative. Both teams were asked to create, develop and execute an advertising campaign for both print and TV. The client was the New York Police Department and the purpose was recruitment. The advertising judge and jury would be Donny Deutsch, head of the famous Deutsch Advertising shop. The team whose campaign won Deutsch’s approval would emerge victorious.

Episode Eight Update

The team challenge of this episode was to develop a compelling ad appeal to attract new NYPD recruits. Donny Deutsch said he wanted ads that would pull at the heart and hit the gut. He wanted the campaigns to focus on the emotion of serving and protecting the city. Mosaic had the youngest of this year’s Apprentices, Andy, as their team leader. And Apex had Elizabeth, who acknowledged that this task was for her, “do or die,” since she had previously led a losing team.

Andy took control of his Mosaic team immediately. He pitched a simple campaign that asked the question “When was the last time you saved a life?” And, although he was challenged by Maria who wanted more sex appeal, Andy suggested this would shine through in the excitement of the heroics portrayed on screen. Andy continued to show grace under pressure when rain threatened to shorten their filming session. He kept rolling despite the weather, and got all the shots on his list. In the presentation, Andy had Kelly, a former member of the military, present to Deutsch. As their reward, the winners were taken by limo to see their campaign played on the big screen in Times Square.

Elizabeth’s Apex team, by contrast, was a study in complete creative chaos. Elizabeth’s constant rambling without focus or purpose resulted in a waste of valuable time and failure to rally her team. To have something rather than nothing, Raj steered the group toward a “front lines of battle” theme. In the editing room, the waffling continued. Elizabeth and Kevin, unhappy with the battlefield idea, changed the theme to a “Not excited going to work doing the same old thing?” But the team hated it, and again Elizabeth changed course. For the first time on The Apprentice, there was talk of firing the team leader. But Apex didn’t need a mutiny to dump Elizabeth. Sensing her overwhelming incompetence, Trump gladly tossed her overboard quickly and decisively.

Lessons Learned.

Just like Trump eliminated the final board room show-down, I have eliminated the need for a Lesson 3. This was such an obvious, albeit important, episode into Trump-Training that only two glaring lessons are necessary to learn.

Lesson 1

When you declare that a project is “do or die” it doesn’t leave room for “win.” Elizabeth’s self-fulfilling prophecy created a self-induced panic that collapsed her confidence and focus. Instead of thinking ahead, she was haunted by her own demons from her previous loss at a project leader. When she declared her mission “do or die” in the opening scenes she was walking right into her own ghostly shadow. To succeed, you must be confident and victorious from beginning to end.

Lesson 2

In real estate it is all about location but in client service it is all about listening. The client, Donnie Deutsch, made his desires clear. He wanted the campaigns to pull at the heart-strings of eligible young men and women so they would feel emotionally motivated to join the NYPD. Elizabeth’s team ignored the wishes of the client while Andy’s team continued to return to that message as their campaign grew from concept to reality. Listening is essential to fulfill the needs of your client and satisfy their goals. Andy understood which is why Deutsch declared their win a “landslide.”

In the next episode, number nine of the second season of The Apprentice, expect more board room action than this episode’s early ejection allowed. And anticipate a much more difficult firing decision, as Donald Trump continues to thin the herd. Stay tuned.

Mr. Whitehead can be reached at [email protected]

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