- The Washington Times - Friday, February 4, 2005

In this episode of The Apprentice, Verna didn’t have her second cup because 10 minutes into the show she quit. Magna’s weakest link packed up and walked out. Her breakdown one task earlier was the foreshadowing of what was too come. And, even after the Apprentice teams were treated to a day of rest, Verna knew she was done. Stressed-out by the thought of more sleepless nights and nutrition-challenged meals, Verna gave herself the Trump-A-Dump. Then it was 8 on 7. And by the end of episode 3, High School Diploma team NetWorth would have an 8 to 6 advantage after trouncing college-grads Magna. In a PR contest to generate buzz around Nescafe coffee, the entrepreneurs spent less time thinking than the collegiates, and more time getting stuff done.

This task seemed perfectly suited for a Magna victory. After all, the college grads had their very own creative guru, guitar-playing leisure-suit-wearing Danny. Danny came from the world-famous Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Media Lab, known as the world’s most creative workplace. But as team leader, Danny suffered from analysis paralysis and the episode turned into his very own Nescafe Nightmare. Apparently, decision making was not one of the creative skills they taught Danny at MIT. He suffered a brain freeze, and his team’s $75,000 coffee promo was far from espresso. By contrast, the NetWorth kids, led by the ever-passionate Angie, put on a heavily caffeinated event with their $75,000 budget. NetWorth’s jumped-up java campaign had all the passion, pomp and circumstance of a well-run political convention, and the high schoolers easily scored a victory.

Episode Update.

Fresh from their hotel renovation win, Magna was distracted by an obsession for playing Sigmund Freud to their wounded teammate Verna. Danny held a group-hug session for Verna, which led to her quitting on the spot, bringing the team’s mood to an all-time low. When Michael, the previous week’s team leader who was exempt from firing, sensed team leader Danny was leading the team to nowhere, Michael started a non-stop profanity-filed rage. In the end, while Michael’s sniping was ugly and distracted his team, he was right about Danny’s amazingly lame I-Pod giveaway coffee tasting event.

NetWorth, by contrast, focused on winning. They staged a mock campaign rally in NYC’s Union Square which pitted the “hot coffee” candidate in a staged debate event versus the “cold coffee” candidate. They also gave away a $10,000 cash prize, which helped a crowd gather to sample the coffees. The Nestle executives in charge of judging the winners were impressed by NetWorth’s concept, execution, and buzz value. The winners won a memorable helicopter ride over Manhattan in Trump’s mega-chopper.

In the board room, Danny tried in vain to have Donald Trump waive Michael’s firing exemption and send Magna’s King Complainer packing. But Trump held firm to his exemption rule and swiftly sent Danny from the suite to the street for his utter lack of leadership and attempts to break the rules.

Lessons Learned.

Lesson 1.

Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection is alive and well and living in Trumpland. Verna knew she was not a species worthy of being The Apprentice. She short-circuited the evolutionary process and self-selected herself for extinction. When it’s over, own it, embrace it, and move on.

Lesson 2.

Everything has a beginning, middle and an end - Networth identified their theme, the props, the action, and how to tie it all in to win. Magna, by contrast, spent hours circling, voting, and arguing the value of each other’s contributions. Angie led her team to victory step by step while Danny’s lack of structure and inability to make decisions created a crowd without a purpose for the product. His lack of leadership to manage his team and drive the task was death-by-Donald.

Lesson 3.

In Trump’s world, you may not like the rules but when they exist you abide by them. Danny entered the Board Room questioning the “firing exemption” of Michael. Even though Trump agreed Michael may have been awful - he was still exempt. When Danny was so insistent that his rule be broken he brought Michael back into the Board Room as one of the final three - Trump knew Danny would go from the suite to the street. Rules keep us civilized and without them business becomes utter chaos.

The split of the street-smarts to the book-smarts remains intriguing — with 14 Apprentices left for next week’s contest, team Magna is now down 2 players to NetWorth. With the musician pushed overboard, we will have to find our amusement elsewhere. Stay tuned.

Jay Whitehead is America’s most-read, most-watched and most-listened-to expert on workstyles and careers. Email your questions and comments to [email protected]

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