Hey Apprentice fans! Hope you all had a great weekend. As the weeks go on we continue to see both the competition and the tasks get tougher and tougher. This week was no exception. This task was by far was the most challenging to date and extremely close to home for my father, Ivanka, Eric and I. The teams were to create and present an advertising campaign for the Trump Hotel Collection. We launched the Trump Hotel Collection in 2007 and have been expanding since, with five hotels now operating from New York City to Waikiki, Las Vegas and Chicago. We have two new hotels coming online this year in Panama and Toronto. We are all extremely proud of the hotel brand we have created, and we work hard to continue making our properties among the best in the world. With that said, the teams had a huge job ahead and would have to work very hard to impress the judges for this week, including us, our COO Jim Petrus and Savoy Magazine's James Osland.
Star stepped up as project manager and felt confident she could succeed at this task with flying colors as she views herself as someone who knows luxury. The men on the other hand had a little more trouble choosing their PM. Ultimately John Rich stepped up, albeit reluctantly, feeling like he didn't have enough experience in the luxury sector to handle this task. I could see why the men's team had some trouble choosing a PM. There is no one who knows this brand better than my father, my siblings and I, so the teams would have to really step up with a creative concept that we haven't already seen and one that accurately depicts the Trump Hotel Collection.
The teams entered their penthouse suites at Trump SoHo and if that didn't give them a gauge on luxury I don't know what will. Trump SoHo is the newest hotel in the collection, and one that has a young downtown vibe still in keeping with our signature Trump white glove service and ultra luxury atmosphere. The ladies entered the duplex penthouse, which has spectacular views and an incredible design. I was hoping that they would look around and it would inspire them to get their creative juices going. Ivanka and Jim visited the teams and emphasized that we were looking for a new perspective, reminding them that our hotel brand has more personality than other hotels in the luxury arena. I was hoping the women would take this hint from Jim and create something really special and unique. While it was nice to see a project manager finally utilize their playboy teammate, Hope, I was concerned to hear that the traditional bubble bath scene was being done yet again. Hopefully, between all the hugging and making up that was coming from La Toya and NeNe, the ladies could give us their own fresh spin on luxury.
Team Backbone was a little short-staffed this week with a huge task to complete and only three sets of hands to do it. I think John Rich made the right move with his divide and conquer plan. Lil Jon must have been looking forward to actually being assigned a task as opposed to last week when Gary had Lil Jon basically hanging out on the sidelines. The men's team decided to use a hint from Jim and Ivanka's visit and incorporate the tagline, "Live the Life." When Eric visited the team and heard about their full concept, his concern was that it might be a little long-winded. One thing that I have learned with advertising is that your message needs to be impactful and to the point. You only have one shot to capture your audience so if your message demands too much time, you risk losing the attention of your potential customer.
The teams were in full swing organizing photo shoots, laying out their ads and preparing for their presentation. I was surprised to see that the "Ladies who Lunch" had time to sneak in beauty treatments, which were necessary (?) for their photo shoot. Between the makeup, hair and expensive jewelry I'd say this tough task was certainly reaping a few rewards for team A.S.A.P. I was impressed to see their level of attention to detail leading up to the shoot but then was a little shocked when I saw the final product and noticed the major details they'd left out. While the ladies were pampering themselves, Meat Loaf was busy giving the waiter/model a big confidence boost. While Meat Loaf was yelling, "You're the best" to the "friendly" waiter who was "making people feel like Donald Trump," he ended up looking very scared in his photos. Not to mention, from what I saw those photos were very typical hospitality industry photos, ones that you could probably find online from a stock imagery site. In recent weeks the men's team has been known to push the envelope and this week it seemed like they were placing safe bets.
Between Star and NeNe bickering about the time it took to shoot the bathtub scene, the lack of flowers on the tables and the men proofreading their advertising materials at least 100 times, it was time for the presentations. Overall, as Jim and James said, it was a train wreck. The men's team gave a good presentation and I liked how they included some of their own personal experiences; I think that whenever possible it's important to try to link an emotional connection to your audience. I did agree with the executives that Team Backbone didn't talk about the actual message enough and didn't have a call to action on their advertisements. That was a huge miss. In business it's so important to make sure to look at both the big picture and pay attention to the small details. My father, siblings and I are all extremely detail-oriented and I think in business you truly to have to be. You cannot afford to place an advertisement these days and not include the website or phone number. Additionally, the men had spelling mistakes which was also a disappointment considering that they made a point to check that area several times.
Although the men did not impress, the presentations went from bad to worse. The women's presentation was very choppy and I too agreed with Jim that calling out different attributes was not a good idea. I liked that they had TRUMP featured very prominently in their ads, as brand recognition is important when producing any type of collateral materials. But they had too many images and it became very busy, filled with generic "hotel"-type shots, exactly what Ivanka had told the teams to avoid.
It was time for the Boardroom. The kind words about Star as project manager ended quickly with NeNe explaining to my father, Eric and I that everyone sucks up to Star except of course herself. I always love how the teams come in for the first few minutes with all great things to say, but as soon as we press them with questions, their true feelings really do come out. When we went through the results with the teams, the list of negatives hit an all-time Apprentice high with a long list of reasons why both teams struck out on this task. There really was no winner but I guess we could say that overall the executives disliked the men's advertisement less than the women's. Team Backbone was excused from the Boardroom and John Rich was able to bring home another check for $20,000 for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. As the women battled it out in the Boardroom, Star was asked to choose two people to bring back in and she strategically choose NeNe and La Toya. It always interests me to see which members are brought in by the PM. I knew those would be the two joining Star in the Boardroom. Ultimately we have huge respect for La Toya, but she was the weakest player of the three in the Boardroom. My father felt he had to give the women their best chance to win and now we had done that. I think Star learned a valuable lesson and you could tell she knew she had a few changes to make. That said, the real test would be seen on the next task.
Hope you all enjoyed this week's episode! Let me know your comments here on the blog and via my Twitter page (www.twitter.com/donaldjtrumpjr). See you next week!