April 15 2006

The Apprentice:Donald Trump 5, Episodes 7 & 8

The Apprentice is such a snore fest, I am surprised there haven’t been reports of the editors throwing themselves from high-rise windows. Armies of zombie Apprentice editors, walking the streets, eating brains, craving the sweet, sweet taste of non-Apprentice tainted brains, which, judging by the ratings for this season, there are many of them out there.

Episode 7 opened with the teams learning they would be working with Ace Hardware on their promitions with the Boys & Girls Clubs of America on their “New Faces for Helpful Places” program. Each team would be renovating a room at a Boys and Girls Club. Lenny took up the Project Manager post for Gold Rush and Michael for Synergy.

Lenny proved to be a horrible leader. He didn’t listen close enough to what Ace Hardware wanted, the rooms to promote team work, he instead went with very seperate music stations that promoted kids doing their own things. He also didn’t seem to ever actually lead the team as much as just watch them do what they needed to do.

Michael had a much better ear for the needs of the assignment, came up with stations in their room that promote the kids working together and worked with his team. His biggest problem was taking forever to finalize their plans and not getting them to the Ace store until mere moments before the shop closed.

Long story, short, adios Lenny. Trump didn’t even bother to send the team out and bring back a few, he just fired them in front of everyone and be done with him. Synergy’s reward was to take a girl on her Make-A-Wish Foundation shopping spree to a Toys R’ Us.

In episode 8, Lee was feeling bad about having lost Lenny. If you are wondering how that friendship came about, join the club. The teams then met with Trump in Central Park and learned Michael would be moving over to Gold Rush as the team was too overpowered now. They went on to find out their task was to promote the new P’EatZZa sanwhich at 7-11. The team with the largest percentage sales increase in sales for their assigned store would be the winner. Andrea was Project Manager for Synergy and Leslie for Gold Rush. I am going to depart a little from norm and really analyze this task, because on the surface it was a silly task, but there was a lot going on here.

Andrea tyranically chose a hat as the promotional item for the Synergy location and Gold Rush chose a cooler. Lee, Michael and Charmaine headed over to their store to scope it out. Lee talked with the manager and two important things happened:#1, he suggested the price point at $6.99 and #2 Lee got him to agree that no other sandwhichs would be on the shelves the next day. This is important because the stripping of choice was a great idea, but the manager gave them an essential piece of information, they had an experianced hand in this area tell them what price point would work, but yet Leslie decided to ignore that info and sell them for $7.99 for 1 and $8.99 for 2. This was something that would come back to haunt her the next day when Lee heard employees mocking the price.

Andrea made one good decesion and one horrible decesion. The good, she got her team out in front of the store the night before hitting the locals with fliers about the sale the next day and asking them to come back the next day and try the new food item. I didn’t think this would work, but it did as many familiar faces from the night before showed up the next day. The bad decesion was the hats. As someone who has spent 20 years in retail, I can tell you a hat never works. It’s the most half-assed promotional item out there. It almost works to the negative, as if to say “Well, we knew we needed a promotional item, but this shows a total lack or originallity and a lack of caring.” It’s like “calling it in” in terms of promotional items. It also cuts out the majority of women as they do not typically care about ball caps. They settled on a price of $4.00.

Back at Gold Rush, Lee was trying to secure a sale of 1,000 sanwhiches, hopefully at the price of $3.00. The buyer came back with a price of $2.00, after consulting Leslie, Lee went back with a price of $2.50, no deal was reached. Leslie was angry Lee had wasted so much time on a failed deal.

Back in the board room, the teams learned their results. Gold Rush increased their store’s sales by 608% and Synergy increased theirs by 997%, making Synergy the winner for the fourth week in a row. Here’s the problem with this task though…math. Let’s say Synergy’s store, on a normal day, sold 1 sandwhich for $1.00, that means Synergy would do far less work to increase the sales volume over Gold Rush, who was at a store that normally did sales of $2.00 a day. Unless the stores were perfectly even, volume is meaningless. This really should have been judged on dollar amount. Anyway, as their reward, Synergy flew down to Washington, D.C. on a private plane to meet with New York Senator Chuck Schumer for lunch. Huzzah.

In the board room, Leslie tried to say she would have pulled the sandwhichs also, Lee was ne genius. She only brought him in to the room with her and she whined about his failed deal. Trump applauded him trying and told her that’s the nature of deals, get used to it. Leslie was fired, good riddance. Just wish she could have taken Andrea with her just for annoynace factor.

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