- The Washington Times - Friday, March 18, 2005

Donald Trump, as the ultimate TV business professor, from time to time needs to pause for the cause. And the cause is worthy—business behavior 101 from the Good Professor.

In Season 3, we started with 18 potential Apprentices. And now we have 9, all in search of the ultimate prize—to be The Donald’s Mini Me. This episode was the reality TV equivalent of the instant replay—in which we recap the 8 most important take-to-work lessons. As we have come to expect, The Donald delivered and reinforced the tried and true while sharing the nuances of earlier business techniques.

Episode 1, the Burger King battle, had both the “street smart” kids of NetWorth and the “book smarties” of Magna working behind the counter to introduce a new burger for the fast food giant. NetWorth whipped Magna, and Magna project manager Todd suffered the humiliation of being the first of the season to hear “you’re fired.” He failed to properly teach his team cash register skills, and they botched the lunch rush. Big lesson: training matters.

Episode 2 was the Jersey shore hotel renovation episode. Even after all the psychological testing Trump does to make sure contestants are up to the mental torture of this 16 week job interview, Magna’s Verna cracked up and quit without being fired. NetWorth’s team leader Brian was fired for putting primary priority on new potties rather than customer service. Big lesson: the customer comes before bathroom fixtures.

Episode 3 featured the Apprentices introducing a new Nescafe coffee flavor. Magna’s project manager Danny, the musically-inclined Apprentice who seems to break into song at every turn, was fired for being unable to make up his mind on a promotional theme. Big lesson: making timely decisions, right or wrong, is at the heart of leadership.

Episode 4 found all of the Apprentice candidates clueless when it came to making a short film commercial for a new Dove body wash product. Advertising mogul Donny Deutsch judged both teams’ entries to be losers and The Donald pulled both teams into the Board Room to face the Trump-A-Dump. While both teams proved that a good ad is one of the hardest things to do, NetWorth’s project manager Kristen made it even harder by elevating her team’s bickering to an all-time high. Trump fired her. Big lesson: You win some, you lose some, but even more important is keeping your team together.

Episode 5 had both teams creating a business on wheels in a custom-fitted Airstream trailer. Even though NetWorth’s Audrey, the team accountant who could not count, lost some of her team’s money, Magna’s Michael’s inability to sell was the difference in his team’s close loss. Trump fired Michael for running his mouth in the Board Room. Big lesson: Most of the time it is better to keep your ignorance to yourself rather than speaking up and eliminating all doubt.

Episode 6 presented both teams painting wall-sized graffiti ads for the new Playstation video game. Magna won the task by doing impromptu surveys among the local target audience in Harlem and adapting its art to their preferences. Trump fired NetWorth’s project manager Tara for not understanding that marketing is all about what customers want. Big lesson: In marketing, guessing what customers want is much less reliable than asking them.

Episode 7 pitted the two teams in a mini-golf course shootout at NYC’s Chelsea Piers. NetWorth’s team leader Audrey over-delegated, and was unable to make critical decisions that cost her team time and attendance. In the Board Room, The Donald dumped Audrey for pointing fingers at everyone but herself for her team’s loss. Big lesson: Win or lose, leaders take ownership of their actions.

Episode 8 saw Trump trade two team members from each team, mixing some high school diplomats in with the collegiates. In the contest, to raise charity cash by auctioning off the services of celebrity musicians on a live Fuse TV show, Magna out-earned NetWorth by two to one for the third consecutive NetWorth loss. Trump fired NetWorth team leader John for his horrid performance in negotiating celebrity prize packages. Big lesson: In Trumpland, you negotiate from the top rung and never fall too far below.

With 7 episodes and 9 Apprentices left, we head into Season 3’s home stretch. Next week, we are back to live bullets in the Board Room. 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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