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Decisions, Decisions, Decisions – The Apprentice 4, Episode 2

by Helen

17 people remain and we find them in the suite, trying to determine who will make it out of the boardroom. The men are hoping that Melissa will come back because they want the women to be as weak as possible. Kristi comes blazing through the suite doors to triumphant cheers of the women and dejected looks of the men.

The candidates gather on the roof top of Trump Park Avenue. The men and women looks so color coordinated it’s scary. Donald, George and Carolyn join them. Donald welcomes them to 59th and Park Avenue. A year ago this particular site was a mess and under development. In fact, he recalls the infamous incident where Omarosa was hit on the head with a piece of plaster although she claimed it was a brick. The candidates all share a laugh. Today the teams will be working with luxury … Trump Park Avenue is luxury and the word Lamborghini spells luxury as well. Everyone’s eyes light up. They will be working with the premiere advertising agency, Kaplan Thaler Group. Their assignment is to put together a 30 second promotional and print ad campaign for Lamborghini. VROOM VROOM! Each team will have access to two Lamborghini vehicles, camera crews and editing facilities. They will be meeting with two executives; Linda Kaplan Thaler, CEO of Kaplan Thaler Group and Ehren Bragg, head of U.S. operations for Lamborghini, who is looking for a big bang campaign because they are working for the best of the best. The teams will be judged by Linda and Ehren. Donald reminds Markus that even though he was the winning project manager last week, his team did not vote to give him the exemption. The teams disperse.

Markus jumps in right away (I think we see the beginning of a pattern) and says that this task should be a slam dunk because he is a car dealer. Mark who is a wealth manager, feels that the edge should be to the men because they understand the concept and have all dreamed of the Lamborghini since they were 5 years old. The men are loaded up in the van and Chris asks if anyone else has the same passion as he to be the project manager. The men agree and select him as the PM. Chris states that he is an advertising executive and this is his lifeblood. He feels that the first priority is to meet with the two executives and get a sense of what the client wants. He tells his team that he DOES NOT want anyone to go into this meeting with any preconceived ideas or slogans until they FIRST hear what the client has in mind. However, Markus disregards this instruction and tells Chris that he already feels that he has the “winning slogan” and he would like to bounce it off the team and the executives during the meeting. Chris looks a bit puzzled and asks him if he is really sure he has a slogan without meeting with the clients first. Markus answers in the affirmative. Chris wants to hear this slogan so that he won’t be caught off guard. Markus hesitates and then says, “smooth as silk.” Chris did not roll his eyes but others did. Chris says that he still would like Markus to wait. Chris tells us that the first “no-no” in advertising is to use clichés and what does Markus do but offer a cliché.

The men of Excel Corporation enter the conference room to meet with their judges. Ehren states that one of the factors that Lamborghini is really excited about is the exponential growth of the car with arrival of a new model. Markus jumps in and begins to try and sell his slogan idea. The men look on helplessly in disbelief. He not only is going against the team instructions but he interrupts Ehren’s presentation. Markus drops the “smooth as silk” slogan and asks if this would interest them. He is met with downcast eyes and a definite “NO”. Ehren tries to continue and again Markus interjects with a “that’s good to know.” Chris is ticked off to say the least and he feels this is a prime reason why he has to baby sit this team member.

Marshawn is selected as the PM for Capital Edge Corporation. Marshawn feels that she since they are women representing a very masculine product they want to convey strength. Alla, who is a salon and spa owner with a net worth of $12 million, is chosen to help with the videography because she could easily get into the mindset of that particular consumer. At the video and photo shoot, Kristi, a sales executive and last week’s PM, is mad that Marshawn is not giving much direction and feels she is just sitting back and letting others do the work. She feels that it will not be fair if she gets the credit if they win.

Donald’s Words of the Week: BE FLEXIBLE.

In business, you must be adaptable. If you don’t adapt, you will never be successful in business. You have to show that you can be flexible and willing to change.

Unwillingness to change may be someone’s undoing this week.

The men come up with an idea of renting a vintage Lamborghini and showing it as it drives down the street and morphs into the new model. They struggle with how to make this video shoot work. Markus asks to be in control of the car direction. Josh, the beauty shop owner, says that Markus is the weakest link, that he is missing some synapses and causes a lot of confusion. In fact, he might even think that he is a part of the women’s team. Chris finally takes the walkie talkie away from Markus and any responsibility that he had. If you can’t trust Markus to direct traffic, how can you trust him to run one of Trump’s companies? The team finally gets the shots that they have been waiting for.

Marshawn looks over the print ads because they have a tight time frame. She sends Alla, Kristi and Jennifer to do the film editing and says that she won’t be there but wants to see the finished product before the presentation. Kristi is furious because she feels that 90% of the task is the 30 second video promo. George is watching as the ladies of Capital Edge look at the footage. He feels that they have some nice shots overall but it is a bit hodgepodge and may be too much for a 30 second spot. The women are brainstorming. Alla says that you will never hear a powerful man say “I deserve this” but Jennifer states maybe they need permission. Alla gasps and says that Jennifer is a genius. This buzz word will be key to their presentation. Alla feels that delegating as a PM is fine but that you must give input and be around. Kristi is mad … again.

Excel is working on the print ad. They are working with an incredible print ad executive. They want to show the car with the heading of Lamborghini: Rebirth of Italian Intimidation. They are play around with the fonts and feel that the “I” in Italian was overshadowing the word Lamborghini. They decide to use a lower case “I” for Italian. They have another print that shows a green Lamborghini with the heading “Green With Envy”. Markus questions whether it should have a question mark after the line. The others disagree. Carolyn observes that the men are so overconfident that they may be losing sight of some obvious flaws that she sees. Mark guarantees that the men will win this assignment.

Randal is leaving the men from Excel Corporation in order to attend his grandmother’s funeral. He states that the guys have all been really supportive. Donald’s chopper lands in Philadelphia and then Randal is taken by limo to the service. We see scenes of the service and at the cemetery. He feels glad that he was there and now he can continue to be an inspiration to his grandmother as he pursues this amazing opportunity.

Capital Edge Corporation enters the presentation all dressed in simple black outfits. They are all holding posters of the various shots from their ad campaign … one by one they offer powerful words such as POWER … ENVY … PRESTIGE … DECADENCE … EGO … DRIVEN … PASSION … ADRENALIN … LAMBORGHINI. Linda and Ehren who have been stoic in past scenes are trying to hold back smiles, they seem impressed already. The video is played with footage of the various aspects of the car interspersed with questions … Are you in control? … Are you worthy? … Are you intimidated? … Do you need permission? … Then a speedy montage of the car and the logo and the final shot of the word Prove It. The executives say that it was very good and they liked it a lot and applaud.

Donald is on his way to the see how the teams are doing. Excel Corporation is feeling good; they are a bit down that Randal will not be there but they are glad that they will be able to share their win with him when he returns. Before they can leave, Randal enters the room and they guys are ecstatic … it is just the boost they need. High fives all around. Excel enters the presentation room and right away, it is a different vibe, much more laid back. Chris is making the pitch and he is wearing a coat but no tie and his collar is unbuttoned and his shirt tails are hanging out.

He starts by saying, “How’s it going? We are so excited with what we have come up with.” He begins the video … you hear a car ignition, and void of color we see the vintage Lamborghini driving down a street and slowly emerge into Technicolor, revealing the new model. There are various still shots of the yellow Lamborghini and then another still of the slogan: Lamborghini: Rebirth of italian Intimidation. Below the car are the words … Heritage … Passion … Excellence. Team Excel looks pleased however the execs look unimpressed. Chris goes onto explain the poster boards that he feels capture the feeling of Lamborghini. They show a green Lamborghini with the heading GREEN WITH ENVY. Chris states that they also focused on the rebirth of Lamborghini with images of the car being birthed from water … huh? Chris continues to talk about the different properties of water … powerful, yet delicate but also a life force. I think the waters were beginning to get muddy. Linda and Ehren thank Excel and say that they did good work. When they leave, Linda says that this is the difference between men and women; women feel it and men say it. Ehren says absolutely.

Donald joins them and asks if they have made a decision and they tell him they have a clear winner. They didn’t even discuss their decision. Capital Edge and Excel are called back into the room. Before the winner is announced, Donald tells Randal that he is glad that he is back from the services for his grandmother. Randal says that on behalf of his entire family, they thank Mr. Trump for the opportunity to be at the funeral. Donald says that it was an honor and important for him to be there.

Linda says that Team Excel put a lot of time and effort into their presentation but that it was mostly words. Ehren says they were a bit confused whether the Lamborghini was green with envy or are the other cars green with envy? At which point guess who jumps into to add an opinion … if you are tracking, you will know that it was Markus. He says that is exactly what he thought. He is pointing his fingers and throwing his hands up in the air and saying that he thought there should be a question mark and that he couldn’t agree more with the executives. Donald asks Markus if he is fighting his team before he even knows the decision. He asks the members of Excel if Markus is a team player and all say a resounding “NO”. Markus says that he just wanted to make it clear that he had a problem with that aspect as well. The last problem was a conceptual one and that was not capitalizing the letter “I” in Italian. Donald asks if they don’t have respect for Italians. Mark says no, they do respect Italians, but that they felt the letter detracted from the word Lamborghini and the word intimidation. Frankly, my computer won’t even let me not use a capital “I” for Italian … big mistake.

On the other hand, the women did an excellent job of making the consumer feel something. They could feel their hearts beat a bit faster watching the video. Capital Edge wins. Now it is time to vote whether Marshawn should be exempt or not. Donald takes a tally and everyone with the exception of Kristi feels that she should be exempt. Kristi says that Marshawn never got her feet wet. However, majority rules and Marshawn will be exempt next week if her team loses.

The women are given the reward of having an afternoon on the ice with the New York Islanders. The ladies suit up in hockey gear. Kristi goes on and on about not knowing much about hockey. Just because she is a beauty queen, does she have to be the star of the show? I am growing tired of her. All is fun and games until Rebecca, who I have never seen, falls and twists her ankle. She is in a lot of pain and having difficulty walking. Coral steps in (someone else I have never seen before), and says she will go with Rebecca to the doctor in the morning. Coral looks at Rebecca’s increasingly swollen ankle and she covers her mouth in shock.

Chris and Mark are discussing that Markus is way out of his league. Markus is chatting with Coral about wishing he had the exemption but he feels that he is not responsible for this failure. So it is off to the board room and let the chips fall where they may. Donald arrives in a tuxedo and expresses his apologies. He doesn’t like to wear tuxedos to board rooms but to ballrooms; he will be going to a ball after this meeting.

Donald asks Chris why they lost today. Chris says they lost because there were distractions that may have caused the outcome. George cuts in and says that this is a shared loss and they lost because they were overconfident and cocky. Donald wants to know who created the ad campaign. Mark states that he was responsible. Carolyn says that they had to explain every aspect of their campaign. Carolyn found the ad boring. Donald asks Josh who he would fire and he says Markus because he is a distraction and a complete disaster, and he takes them off their game. Donald asks Markus why no one seems to like him, is it lack of respect? Markus says that he doesn’t think it is a respect issue but that there is a clique and that he has been nothing but a good performer. Markus says that Chris should be fired. Chris counters that he can give a good example how Markus is not a good team player but Donald says that he doesn’t want to hear it because he feels that Chris is going to bring Markus back into the boardroom with him and he does not think that is such a good idea. Markus was the only person that had the guts to say that he didn’t like the campaign. Markus says “yes sir” in the background.

Donald says that even though he doesn’t like that he has a loyalty issue that Markus was right and the team lost. Chris says that Markus destroys team cohesiveness. Carolyn says that the reason they lost was not team cohesiveness but a lack of creative. She wants to know who is responsible for the creative portion of this campaign … Carolyn is in a bit of a huff and she is ready to take over. Chris says that Mark and he were in charge. Donald asks if this means that Chris will bring Mark back with him. Chris pauses for a moment and says no. Josh looks a bit puzzled and George shakes his head. Donald asks Clay who he would fire and he says Markus because he talks so much and Markus gets heated and says that this is not true for this particular task. Donald asks James who should be fired; he hedges but when pushed by Donald he says Chris. Donald asks Chris for the two to join him in the boardroom and he says Markus. Donald asks who else … Chris says just Markus. Donald says … just Markus? By now, I am pleading with the television and Chris … Oh Please, Chris, get a grip, get a hold of your self … change your mind, adapt … be flexible. Don’t you see how it is going? But Chris won’t budge and says yes, just Markus.

Carolyn feels that Chris is a great leader but he made a critical error not bringing anyone into the board room from the creative team. George feels that Markus may need a muzzle but they didn’t lose because of Markus but creativity. Donald summons for Chris and Markus.

Donald says that he is so surprised that the two men before him are seated there and not anyone like Mark from the creative team. Chris felt that from the beginning, their team was moving forward, had to reel in Markus and then start again. Markus felt that he was marginalized by Chris. George asks Chris did he marginalize Markus. Chris says that he could not trust Markus. George asks for a yes or no answer. Chris says yes and he had to do this because he couldn’t do the simplest task.

George says that Chris will never know if Markus could have contributed because he wasn’t given a task. Donald presses Chris again on why Mark is not sitting with them. Chris says that he feels that he supported all of Mark’s decisions, and so if it was a mistake then he made the mistake as well. Donald agrees that he did make a mistake and that this is a really tough decision this time. He feels that Markus is kind of a disaster, he talks too much and people don’t like him. But Chris could not make a smart business decision and he made an emotional decision instead. He asked Chris not to bring Markus back into the room, to bring Mark in but he wouldn’t. Chris, YOU ARE FIRED! He hated to do this because he feels that Chris has great potential. To Markus he says that he doesn’t see him lasting much longer. Markus, who has never been able to let someone get in the last word, says that he will prove him wrong. When both men leave, Donald says that he hated making that decision because he really thinks Chris is great. George said that he was given every opportunity to make the right choice and they did what they had to do.

Markus re-enters the suite, bags in hand. No emotion or sound is heard from the people that see his return.

In the taxi, Chris says that Markus will not last long. I love how taxi rides make people philosophical. Chris says that if you have a bunch of people in one boat all rowing in the same direction but one isn’t rowing, your boat is just going to spin around and you will not make any progress and you are not going to get anywhere. But not only is Markus not rowing, he didn’t have his hands on the paddle, he was facing the wrong direction, and was drinking a martini with the captain.

Wow … I really am not too fond of Markus but he was not to blame this time. Chris should do well back in the real world and maybe he should take a couple of yoga classes to work on his flexibility.

Any feedback on the first two episodes? Let me know at helen@realityshack.com

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