Hey Apprentice fans! Hope you enjoyed last night's episode. The competition is getting tougher, and as we saw last week, the contestants not only have to play hard, but they also have to play smart.
Clint had a great win last week and as a result had a meeting with Barry Sternlicht, founder of Starwood. Barry is a brilliant businessman, and was able to provide some important tips for Clint, reminding him to always set high goals. I think Clint walked away from the meeting confident and also with a $5,000 gift certificate to Pier 1 Imports - another great reward that I'm sure his family (especially his wife) will be thrilled about!
The task this week was to create a 30-second commercial for AT&T Mobile TV. Thirty seconds seems like it would be a piece of cake, but at this point in the competition, we all know that's not the case. The teams were judged in three areas: creativity, positive representation of the brand, and clear concise messaging. It was three against two - Stephanie and Liza vs. Brandy, Clint and Steuart. Stephanie stepped up as PM this week, and Steuart took on the role for Octane. I was looking forward to seeing how Stephanie and Liza would interact; they were one-on-one this week - no buffers in sight.
As the task began it was already evident that Stephanie had her own agenda. Usually in the brainstorming phase the ideas are laid out on the table and discussed. This week, Stephanie had tunnel vision and wasn't interested in any of Liza's input. I think Stephanie should have treaded lightly as the other team had three players who have shown they work well with each other. I Stephanie needed Liza whether she wanted to admit it or not. Tasking her only with secretary work was a bold move. If she wanted to be a "one man show" as she declared, it was clear that she had better be prepared to fly solo in the boardroom.
Octane was moving full steam ahead and Steuart delegated all of the tasks to his teammates. Brandy was tasked with the presentation, which I think was an obvious choice given her performance on the Rockport task, and the fact that each week, that's her standard role. Clint was in charge of creative and Steuart was the editor - all big tasks, which made me wonder how Stephanie and her "secretary" would pull it off. I was a little concerned with how Octane came up with their idea. They decided upon it only because they didn't have time to brainstorm anymore. Seeing that Steuart, the PM, wasn't sold on it, I was looking forward to seeing how they could sell it to my father and the executives.
Fortitude was having some trouble finding a location. Liza didn't have success in securing a sporting arena or an office space. The photographer seemed to just be standing around. In my mind, that was wasted time, which could have come back to haunt them if they didn't get in gear and get moving. That's one thing in business I learned at a young age: if you waste time, you'll ultimately end up loosing something, most often money. Octane had their concept and location and was trying to get through as many scenes as possible. They were also in a time crunch and you could see the stress building up. Clint in particular was working hard as both a team member and as the main actor in their commercial.
While in the editing rooms, I didn't see a whole lot of enthusiasm from either team. Obviously they seemed tired, but neither team was very excited about their commercials. Liza even said she was embarrassed by the commercial! Not a great sign to me! Hopefully after a good night's sleep they are able to recover and deliver a winning 30-second spot for AT&T Mobile TV.
As Liza and Stephanie entered the theater to present, I think their nerves jumped up as they saw my father in the audience with the executives from AT&T and FLO TV. Fortitude's commercial ran and I thought Stephanie delivered it very well. I was interested to see how the commercial would be received. It was one single scene, so that scene was their one shot to impress the judges. Another element I noticed was their concept, "TV in the workplace," for me not something I think all offices would welcome. Certainly I would raise an eyebrow if I walked by an employee's desk and instead of seeing their work I saw an episode of "Law & Order" playing.
Team Octane showed their commercial, which was far more detailed with several scenes. They showed the product often and had a lot of different scenarios that could resonate with many potential customers. Brandy stumbled over her presentation quite a bit and she seemed very nervous. My father asked why she didn't memorize her presentation, which was a good question. Her lines were not very complicated and had she done so, I think the presentation would have been more relaxed and authentic. The judges thought that both teams overall did a good job, but it was only in the boardroom that the final decision would be made.
As both teams entered the boardroom, my father discussed the presentations first and foremost. He wasn't extremely impressed with Brandy's delivery and thought that the award this week would have to go to Stephanie. But as we all knew, the presentation was just one element of the task. After Ivanka and I delivered the pros and cons to each team, my father delivered the news that Octane "absolutely" won. Octane was on a roll, and as the winning PM, Steuart had the opportunity to meet with Cathie Black, Chairman of Hearst Magazines. It was a job well done for Octane. They worked hard and they worked well together, two extremely important qualities.
Clint, Steuart and Brandy were excused from the boardroom, and as predicted the claws came out. All of the friendly words that Liza and Stephanie just used to describe their relationship this week were long gone. Liza initially had a tough fight, as the point was raised that she was never a winning project manager. When attacked, Stephanie tried to defend herself and say that Liza's failure to get the props or food was the reason for the lost task. But at the end of the day, it was the concept. Stephanie's plan was to always have the office setting for the commercial. Having an employee jump up in a business meeting, I don't care how casual, is not appropriate. Overall, the props were important and could have helped shape the commercial, but the concept of the commercial did not make sense. As the Project Manager and "boss," as she referred to herself in the beginning, Stephanie was left accountable.
Looking forward to next week! Please continue to share your thoughts on the episode here on the blog and via twitter (www.twitter.com/donaldjtrumpjr). Have a great weekend!