- The Washington Times - Monday, November 8, 2004

Episode 9 of Donald Trump’s NBC reality TV show The Apprentice, The Donald had the teams renovated run-down houses and renovated run-down reputations. Trump arranged for Rob and Jennifer C. to join Mosaic and Bradford and Stacie J. to join Apex. Upon reuniting, Jennifer C. tackled Ivana with regrets about not getting Ivana fired. Then Stacie J. piled on, saying Ivana misrepresented her by calling Stacie J., crazy. Ultimately, the ranting was irrelevant to the finished task but it gave these fired gals a chance to set the record straight in front of millions.

This contest was a duel of dilapidated dwellings. With $20,000 and just a couple days to do the job, each team re-did a residence. Professional appraisers were brought in to appraise each house post-renovation. Mosaic was focused, organized and in complete contractor control. Apex failed on all accounts with the multiple blunders earning team leader, Raj, the Trump-A-Dump. But not before a rumble in the Board room.

Episode Update

Ironically, both teams quickly decided that adding a bathroom would create the best return. But under Raj’s leadership and determination, Apex turned their 4-bedroom place into 3 by knocking down a wall. They learned the hard way that 3 bedrooms are worth less than 4. But design alone was not the reason for their downfall. Apex team leader Raj allowed Kevin to select the contractor but the connection was less than cosmic. Dispassionate, the contractor responded to Raj’s demands by eating his lunch and shrugging. Mosaic team leader Sandy faired better when young Andy convinced a second contractor to take over for the first one, and the second contractor’s whole family kicked in to finish the job.

The appraisers were greeted by a beautifully landscaped home in front of the Mosaic house. Inside, Sandy adopted the chirpy language of the residential realtor, showing off the clean house and proudly pointing out the refreshing renovations. By contrast, the Apex house was still a construction zone with an incomplete bathroom. Despite Raj’s attempts to diffuse the mess by pointing it out, they lost. Apex gained only 7.14% in value, while Mosaic added 10.26%. The winners got a helicopter ride to the Hampton beach house owned by very wealthy Trump friend, Denise Rich. In the Board Room, Raj picked Kevin and Ivana. But, in a twist, Chris abruptly complained to Trump about bad team morale. This bizarre outburst so angered Trump and he suggested Raj include him in the Board Room. Raj refused that, on top of his myriad blunders, Trump sent Raj from the suite to the street..

Lesson 1

The residential makeover is a true test of project management. Lots of moving parts in both people and products. Sandy had a plan and used her leadership to motivate her people to bring together all of the parts. Raj did not. He accepted the contractor choice and stepped back to await the results. His inability to effectively control and manage the multiple moving parts created a disaster both inside and out. Successful leaders must own both the vision and the execution and a commitment to both.

Lesson 2

Being proactive and shifting priorities as events warrant is key to successful business. In Trump’s world, complaining gets you hoarse while fixing gets you ahead. Changing horses midstream, or in the case of Mosaic, adding them, isn’t a sign of weakness - it is a sign of strength. Never take your eye off the ball and do what is necessary to reach the finish line successfully.

Lesson 3

How can you sell something you wouldn’t buy yourself? Sandy’s excitement for the final product was genuine and contagious. You even got the feeling she was ready to move in herself and a new buyer might even be competing with her! Raj’s lack of concern for the surrounding filth was disrespectful to the property and to the visitors. He came across with a “let’s get this over with” attitude that showed contempt which was offensive. Mosaic’s house, with much less curb appeal than Apex’s, required not only good bathroom work, but great presentation by as well. Be your own best customer and others will follow.

In the next episode, we can await the arrow aimed for the target on Chris’ back. Trump pre-selected Chris as project manager and the preview indicates it is a bridal shop theme which is sure to be a challenge. How well will Chris do with adversity? 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. This week the guest will be the first fired Apprentice from Season One Dr. David Gould. Email your questions and comments to [email protected]

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