- The Washington Times - Friday, November 12, 2004

In episode 10 Donald Trump’s NBC reality TV show The Apprentice, we saw the most lopsided victory in Apprentice history but it produced more business lessons in one show than ever before. Kelly’s winning Mosaic team split $50,000 in merchandise from Graff Jewelers while Chris led the losing Apex team back to the Board Room. Last week, Trump named Christ project manager after he complained about his team’s bad chemistry. As predicted, Apex got left at the altar by Chris, who went from the suite to the street. But before the Trump-A-Dump, Chris tossed us a bridal bouquet full of business lessons.

The contest was to run a one-day wedding gown sale from 4pm to 9pm and the team selling the most will win. Kelly’s Mosaic team had an ace-in-the-hole, Sandy, whose real job is running a bridal store. While Apex ultimately found a bridal expert, it was too little too late for Chris’ team. Mosaic out-sold Apex by 12-to-1. Apex’s mistakes were as brutally obvious as a badly-fitted bridesmaid’s gown, and far more instructional too.

Episode Ten Update

In running a 5-hour bridal gown sale, both teams realized that you only need four things: a store, gowns, salespeople, and customers. Both teams started out with equally nice empty locations. But as soon as both teams started gathering gowns, Mosaic took the lead and never looked back. Mosaic project manager Kelly delegated heavily to Sandy, who knew tricks of the trade: Getting discontinued designer gowns from bridal shops, selling them fast and cheap, and emailing the event to thousands of brides for only $1,000. By the time Mosaic’s store opened, over 40 brides crowded the door, with many more pouring in later.

Chris’ Apex team, by contrast, presided over a shotgun wedding that was doomed from the start. When Chris was unable to get shop owners to consign him gowns over the phone, he threw up his hands and declared the task impossible. Chris’ horrified teammates stumbled upon a bridal shopkeeper and consultant, Bernadette, who helped them but when it came to bringing in the brides they were flawed. Apex passed out fliers at the city’s two largest commuter hubs, Grand Central and Penn Station, which attracted fewer people than a midnight marriage in Las Vegas. In the end, Mosaic out-sold Apex by $12,788 (27 gowns) to $1,060 (2 gowns). The thoroughly defeated Chris barely felt a jilted twinge when he heard Trump bark “you’re fired!”

Episode Ten: Lessons Learned.

Lesson 1. Never give up. Long-time Trumpologists know that Trump has lived by the life-long creed to believe in yourself which has allowed him to routinely snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. When Apex team leader Chris surrendered in the early moments, it was a vivid reminder that in Trump Land, as in life, defeat is in the eye of the beholder.

Lesson 2. When in doubt, hire an expert. Trump-o-graphers all remember famous Donald Trump feats such as completing the Central Park Ice Arena in 8 weeks for $4 million where others had failed after years and much more money. The Donald hires experts. It took Chris’ Apex team too long to match Mosaic’s bridal expert Sandy with one of their own. Without expert advice, Apex fell faster than an ice cream wedding cake in the sun.

Lesson 3. The famous movie line, “build it and they will come” is only true if you get the word out. Mosaic’s Sandy knew that an email blast from the wedding website TheKnot.com would bring local brides by the bucket-load. And, although she entered the task aware of this database, Apex could have easily found out with a little research. Instead, their ill-fated fliers reached commuters from New Jersey, Long Island and Connecticut—nowhere close to their sale. Clearly, this second rate attempt at mass marketing left The Donald disgusted at the entire team.

Lesson 4. From inventory to marketing to customers - no passion, no business. Chris’ sour face in the bridal shops and negative attitude throughout the entire task was bigger than the desire to win. Mosaic’s Sandy passionately pursued bridal customers even negotiating a second email blast when the phone number was left off the first one. By contrast, Chris and his Apex teammates were overwhelmed and showed disgust. Trump has taught us that dollars go where desire leads - this rung true for the winning team.

In the next episode, number eleven of The Apprentice season 2, expect Trump to shake up the shrinking teams for a more intimate and intense competition. Stay tuned.

Jay Whitehead is America’s most-read, most-watched and most-listened-to expert on workstyles and careers. You can listen to Jay Whitehead on web-radio every Tuesday 5pm to 6pm EST when he hosts Won on Won with Whitehead on www.businessamericaradio.com. Email your questions and comments to [email protected]

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