- The Washington Times - Friday, March 11, 2005

Watching The Apprentice 3’s charity TV auction episode, we got ample evidence that in our celebrity-obsessed world, people will pay a lot to rub elbows with a little fame. And the greater the famous face time, the more people will pay.

By episode 8, the team headcounts were even at 5 apiece demonstrating that whether book or street smart - the key is just to be smart.—so The Donald did a corporate realignment. Magna project manager Kendra and NetWorth team head Chris, neither of whom had led before, were told to choose two team members to send to the other squad. Kendra gave away Erin and Stephanie to NetWorth. And Chris handed over Tana and Craig to Magna.

This task would put a premium on talent management and negotiation. Both squads would produce a live music auction for FUSE TV to benefit The Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation. Each team got 5 big music acts, with whom they would negotiate a personal experience that would be auctioned off, live on TV. The team that raised the most money would be the winner.

NetWorth team head Chris handed negotiating prize packages with the artists over to John, who had some experience in the music industry. Unfortunately, John thought he was on the equal playing field as these mega-stars and entered each negotiation with his own war stories which did nothing to stroke the egos of the celebrities. As a result, John got simple 45-minute play sessions from 4 artists and an invite to the launch party of the box set of CDs from former Kiss leader Gene Simmons, despite Simmons’ offer of more. John repeatedly shot down his female teammates’ suggestions for larger packages. In contrast, NetWorth’s Tana and Craig masterfully wheedled more elaborate prizes, including a TV appearance with hip hopper Eve, an around-the-world tour with Jadakiss, and a first class week-long tour and onstage appearance with the red-hot Moby.

When the auctions aired, NetWorth’s weak packages were out-earned by Magna’s by nearly twice, $11,325 to $21,654. In the Board Room, Trump rewarded John’s contempt for his female teammates and inept negotiating skills with a trip from the suite to the street. John got the Trump-A-Dump.

Episode Analysis.

The tone was set for a NetWorth loss when John said he could handle the task of negotiating with the 5 acts (Barenaked Ladies, Gene Simmons, New Found Glory, Simple Plan and Fat Joe) alone, but he would bring Erin and Stephanie along as “hot girls.” When Simple Plan said John’s idea of paying 45-minutes at the bidder’s house was the same prize other contests offered, John said that his team would be happy with anything. Even though Gene Simmons wanted an idea that would out-earn all other artists, John settled for an invite to the boxed CD party.

By contrast, Magna put their best foot forward by knowing it was about “the stars” and not about themselves. Tana suddenly morphed into a hip-hop linguist of the highest order who connected with Magna’s artists Lil Kim, Lil Jon, Moby, Eve and Jadakiss. When Tana said “in the hizzy,” “booya” and “we be talkin’,” her teammates just stepped back and let her do the talkin’. Her high-value prize packages won with the audience, and Magna scored a clear victory.

In the Board Room, Trump henchpeople George and Carolyn both faulted Chris’ leadership. But Chris argued that his role in production was vital because the prizes were irrelevant if no one tuned in to watch. The Donald agreed and sent John packing.

Lessons Learned.

Lesson 1.

You negotiate down - not up and never from a position of weakness. NetWorth’s John failed to understand he had a strong offer for the artists—national TV, a great charity—and that he could ask for a lot. Magna’s Tana knew her strengths, connected with the artists and bagged big offers.

Lesson 2.

“Book smart” versus “street smart” means less than emotional intelligence. Tana’s brilliant, emotionally intelligent transformation into a hip-hop street linguist made the day for her team. In the Trump-O-Sphere, The Donald has often used a reading of his target customer’s emotional needs to sell his product.

Lesson 3.

In The Donald’s world, and the real world, the best ideas win. Trump has often noted that the ideas that have scored the best were not his, but came from his secretary, a teammate, a friend, a family member. Thinking his ideas were the only good ones, NetWorth’s John cut off a flow of better ideas from his teammates, and suffered the consequences.

Next week’s contest features a newly-mixed group of 9 Apprentices. And now, rather than college kids versus high school grads, it’s every human for themselves. 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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