- The Washington Times - Monday, September 20, 2004

In episode 2 of the second season of The Apprentice, Donald Trump delivered hurricane-force corporate lessons, reminders that in the theater of business, like on the big screen, the drama can be breathtaking. In the greatest story twist in the history of the biggest-ever reality show, Trump fired a contestant for his performance in the boardroom rather than in the week’s contest. Bradford, the firing-exempt leader of the previous week’s winning team, got the Trump-A-Dump for making the impetuous decision to waive his exemption. Never mind that the losing team leader, Ivana, proved a horrid organizer, and wild-eyed Stacie J. got the unanimous pick for freak of the week. Trump blew Bradford away for his snap decision. And in so doing, Trump taught the Apprentices and us the most valuable lesson of all in corporate life: never take a needless risk.

Week Two Update

Team Mosaid (all men plus Pamela) and Apex (all woman plus Bradford) were assigned the task of creating and selling a new flavor of ice cream. Working with New York’s famous Ciao Bella Gellato Company, both teams were charged with developing a new flavor and selling it. The winners would be the team who made the most money.

Mosaic, behind team leader and former military Army Ranger, Kelly, developed a favor using real donuts. This proved risky since Mosaic needed to invest precious dollars to buy the donuts as ingredients. Mosaic took another risk by deciding to donate some proceeds to a charity. It figured the do-gooder label would increase sales, but the donation cut dangerously deep into proceeds. In the end, donut proved a brisk morning seller as master marketer Raj coined “breakfast ice cream.” Raj also created a team uniform by lending his inventory of bow ties to the entire team. The Mosaic men were impressive, barking breakfast in the morning and hawking charity in the afternoon.

Apex, behind Ivana, picked a flavor called “red velvet.” Ivana’s anarchic style put Apex at a disadvantage immediately, as they nearly missed the deadline for selecting a flavor. Apex was equally inept at selling. It lost contact with the team manning the second ice cream cart for 3 hours, nearly half of its selling time, when the team decided to leave its prime Times Square location to avoid a dispute with an angry street vendor.

Even after deducting for its donuts and donations, Mosaic won $2707 to Apex’ $2472, and got a dinner trip to the world’s most-expensive caviar restaurant, Petrossian. Mosaic’s leader, Kelly, won a one-week exemption from being fired. Apex team leader Ivana picked Stacie J. and Jennifer to join her to face Trump’s wrath. Then, in a wacky twist, when Bradford suddenly waived his exemption, Ivana also picked him to come to the boardroom. Trump was so outraged by Bradford’s idiocy that he ignored his hench-peoples’ firing recommendations: Ice Queen Carolyn recommended Ivana and Grandfather-From-Hell George fingered Stacie J to get the axe. Instead, Trump told Bradford “you’re fired!” angrily denouncing Bradford’s stupid risk as deadlier than losing the contest.

Lesson 1

Apex’s hapless sales performance directly resulted from Ivana’s 2 allergies: organization and decisiveness. Mosaic’s Kelly, by contrast, had his troops marching in lock-step, and they handily won the contest despite severe cost disadvantages. Disorganization mixed with an inability to decide is the key to disaster. Achievement is all about focus on your process and your result.

Lesson 2

Mosaic made a risky decision to donate proceeds to a Leukemia charity. The donation gave the victorious squad’s efforts the advantage of something more than winning—they were working toward a greater good. They worked harder, and sold more, as a result of the commitment. Combining profits with purpose is a winning theme because it provides a motivation for business and for the soul.

Lesson 3

Professor Trump once again delivered the goods. The most valuable of all corporate lessons is that leaders never make hasty decisions that endanger their survival. Leaders must be protected, because without leadership, the team dies. Bradford’s self-sacrificial snap decision to waive his exemption rightfully infuriated The Donald. Rather than let Bradford have another chance to endanger the team by putting himself at risk, Trump dumped him. Leaders never make risk-ramping snap choices. Save your impulse decisions for the grocery store check-out line not in a corporate board room.

Next week, watch for the leadership and team-building weaknesses of Ivana, Stacie J. and Mosaic’s week one leader Pamela to result in an elevator ride home. 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 MOEN Sales Specialist, Stephanie Young and former Apprentice, Heidi Bressler. Email your questions and comments to [email protected]

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