Hickory Dickory Dock,
Team Excel dropped in stock,
The four to blame,
Left in shame,
Hickory Dickory Dock.
Excuse the attempt at nursery rhyme humor, but someone has to find it following the debacle last week. Excel Corporation suffered the worst defeat since the birth of The Apprentice. Donald was left with the task of firing not one but four potential apprentice candidates. I had heard the rumors prior to the show airing but I was still stunned.
It is now time for a midnight snack and to call it a night, but wait…no one has emerged through the doors to the suite. The suite is a buzz with speculation. Brian feels that probably two people will come back but if it isn’t James and Josh returning he will lose it. As the hour keeps getting later and later, we see the remaining candidates in various positions and settings around the suite and it is becoming clear that no one is returning.
The next morning, Adam is getting dressed for apparent success and is still reeling from the firing of 4 people. He is tying and retying his pink tie and says that it is decided that he will be PM for the next task. He feels that he has had time to access everyone’s abilities and talents and that he will use this to be successful in whatever task they are given. Randal enters the bedroom and asks how Adam is doing this morning and Adam responds that he is feeling good, really good. I imagine this feeling is due to the fact that he has finally finished tying his tie.
Donald, Carolyn, George and Apprentice winner Kelly are talking about one of Donald’s many projects. Donald inquires of Kelly how he is doing and if he enjoys working with George. Kelly says that he is doing well and is learning a lot from working with George. Donald tells the group that it is time to meet with the candidates and see if there are any “Kelly’s” in the bunch.
The candidates are assembled and Donald tells them that Team Excel took a great hit last night losing 4 team members. Marshawn asks if this means that they will not be returning…she asks this question with a bit too much of a smile in my opinion since she is normally very stoic. Donald answers and affirms that they will not be coming back. Brian is a bit freaked out and he feels that this is a devastating blow to him personally. Donald asks Team Excel if they would like to even up the teams with picking one member to be added to their team. They huddle for a moment and I am sure it is obvious that they pick Randal. He continues to be the MVP. I bet he was never picked last for any playground game. Capital Edge tries to conceal their disappointment…why, oh why, couldn’t they have picked Markus? Randal heads over to Excel and gets his customary hugs and handshakes. Donald tells the teams that they are standing in the lobby of his new building at Trump Place. Kelly has been working at Trump Place as one of his apprentices. He has been learning a lot and that is what this week’s task is all about.
The Learning Annex is a group that is an amazing continuing education program. They offer over 8,000 classes a year. Each team will create a new class for The Learning Annex. They will teach the class in front of an audience and the students will grade each team regarding educational and entertainment value. The team that receives the highest overall grade will escape the boardroom. Donald also reminds Capital Edge that Alla is exempt this week following last week’s big win.
Adam as the PM for Capital Edge wants this task to have a collaborative feel. He has placed Alla in charge of the brainstorming portion. Alla asks the team members to take 10 minutes and come up with 5 ideas written down to then share with the group. Do you remember in school, when the teacher would ask everyone to take out a piece of paper and pencil and everyone complied except there was always one kid that decided that he was going to take out his lunch sack and begin to eat instead. Well, my friends, his name was Markus. As Alla gives her instructions to the group, everyone gets down to business except Markus who is reading a magazine. Alla asks Markus if he is going to come up with ideas. Markus answers yes without looking from his reading material. Alla tells him to get out a pencil and again without looking up at Alla, responds that he is going to do something a bit different. He wants to pitch his ideas to the team. Markus pitches the idea that no one has enough time and that it is easy to say that time is what it is and that it is what you give it. Then he suggests that they start talking about how those two things end up in results. The following pitch was exactly what Markus verbalized with the exception of many “um’s” that were left out. He then leans back in his chair triumphantly and says that this is all he has. Alla says that he gave one idea and she needs four more. Markus says that he doesn’t think this way. Clay concurs that Markus is not going to be able to give Alla what she wants. Markus shrugs his shoulders and says that he comes up with blockbuster ideas. Now I get it…Markus has been taken to the planet Zathura and he no longer resides among those who think rationally. He is comical to say the least. The team is losing focus and has no clear ideas. Adam pulls Markus aside and tells him to stay on task. Markus goes in to his habit of trying to turn it back on the PM. Adam thinks that Markus is funny and a character when he is not project manager but right now he is not funny and he needs to add value.
The team continues to brainstorm as Adam and Markus return and Markus sulks in the background. Ideas are being thrown out left and right and Clay feels that they need to have a catchy title. Alla comes up with Sex in the Office or in the Workplace. Adam objects and does not want to use the word “SEX” in the title. The team tries to come up with words other than sex and they are even more a hot button for Adam. Adam finally agrees to go along with the topic. Clay feels that Adam is worried about the topic because he probably has not had sex before and has not used the word more than 10 times in his life. Alla reassures Adam that this is a topic that they can all talk about candidly and with enthusiasm. Adam is assigned to talk about STD’s and he just buries his head in his hands. Alla worries that Adam may freeze up and blow the presentation.
Randal steps up to be PM for Excel. Randal runs the brainstorm session. The session is not going too well as Brian feels that all the topics are boring and they don’t have enough “wow factor”. Brian feels that since Randal is a doctor and tends to be very analytical and does not think outside the box which is leading to ideas that are less than creative. Randal comes up with the idea of teaching people how to leave their mark and stand out in the crowd. Rebecca is alittle bit cynical and she feels that if this fails that it will fall on Randal’s shoulders.
Capital Edge is still trying to hammer out their subtopics within their topic of Sex in the Workplace. Adam asks Markus what he has found out in his research. Markus says that he doesn’t feel that what he has found is not going to have as much punch as what the others have found. He proceeds to tell them what he has…I think…I believe Adam has the most accurate description of “Markus Talk”.
Adam says that Markus jams a lot of random words together and calls them a sentence. He fears that he is not going to add any value to the team. Markus continues to drone on and Felisha is seen trying to hold her head erect and is failing miserably, she doesn’t conceal her yawn. Clay has lost patience with Markus and mocks his arm gestures, which infuriates Markus, and he tells Clay to be serious because they are all professionals. Adam tells Markus to get to the point and stop pointing. Markus is offended and tells Adam to take the leash off of him. Adam tells Markus that he doesn’t have any type of leash on him and he wants everyone to be respectful of each other. Markus tells Adam to relax and that he would be finished talking if he didn’t have to deal with Adam’s comments.
Adam pulls Markus aside to another room in the suite. Adam tells Markus that he has the least amount of research of anyone. Markus tells Adam that he needs to understand that he is not going to be the “fly in the ointment” of this task. Adam will find this out when they lose this task, that he (Markus) won’t be the problem. He has his own style and that he is not going to be out of control and talking too much.
Donald unlike Markus feels that it is all about getting to the point. He is too busy and doesn’t have time to waste time. Markus must have missed this memo from the Donald.
Randal and Excel Corporation welcome their seminar participants to their class called “Standout! Make Your Mark!” Randal attempts to get the crowd motivated right from the start. George tries to find a seat among the throng of people. Randal is dynamic and engaging in his presentation skills. George feels that the topic is not “wow factor” worthy but that the presentation is well done. Randal explains that the class has three parts: first, a questionnaire, to assess the individual’s personal style of communication; second, a lecture on bold and effective communication and the final area was a breakout session to practice the communication techniques they have learned from the lecture. The participants seemed to have a good time during the final section where they have a chance to practice communication styles. Randal feels that he would rather look confident talking about something that is safe than to risk looking ignorant about something that had a certain amount of zip or zest.
Capital Edge readies the masses to talk about sex. Adam emerges from the audience and introduces the topic. Adam admits to the crowd that he was a bit nervous about this subject because he is a “nice Jewish boy from Atlanta and he hopes that this class will be interactive and that Capital Edge wants to connect with them”. This comments brings lots of nervous giggles and Alla quickly says that they won’t be interacting with the participants in “that way”. Whew! Clay begin his portion of the presentation with the question, “ Has anyone ever had a crush on someone at work?” A few people raise their hands and Clay has to really push to get more people to admit this infraction of the heart. Clay confesses that he has looked at other men at work and thought, “What a great ass!” This comment causes Carolyn and a few other participants to gasp and widen their eyes. He is entering the realm of too much information and explains that he once had a boss that would slap him on the ass and tell him he was doing a good job. As a gay male, he didn’t mind this but that it is difficult to be gay in the workplace. Alla reiterates that they are not in a place to judge anyone regarding sex in the workplace but they want to offer tools on how to handle potentially difficult situations. Adam talks about first dates and is expounding on paying for dinner. Clay interrupts and says, “Remember, he’s the shy, tight, Jewish boy.” Adam and the rest of the team just stare Clay down. Adam tries to laugh it off but he is mad that Clay called him a “tight assed Jewish boy.” He was offended and he thinks that Clay may have offended others as well. Felisha feels that Clay was the king of awkward moments during the presentation. Carolyn is annoyed and feels that she has no idea if this team was for or against sex in the workplace. The presentation was funny but not very educational.
After the presentation, Clay asks the team if anyone hated him for anything that he said. Adam says that he took offense to the Jewish comments. Clay starts to respond and Markus says to wait until they leave the Learning Annex. This was the first time Markus is shown doing anything during the presentation. He appeared to only occupy a stool and was seen rolling string around a yo-yo. Clay feels that if Adam is upset about the Jewish comments that he was only playing off what Adam had already said about himself earlier in the presentation. Clay feels that Adam needs to relax and that the comments were not personal.
The teams meet back in the boardroom and George and Carolyn are already seated. Carolyn is in a gold slip like dress with a plunging neckline….va va voom! Donald of course notices Carolyn immediately when he enters the boardroom and says, “ Whoa Whoa, what have we here?” Carolyn cocks her head to the side and says with a smile that the Donald isn’t the only one that can dress in a tuxedo to attend a function. She is going to a dinner at Trump National Golf Club afterwards. Donald compliments her on her dress. I felt like asking Capital Edge if this qualifies as sex in the workplace.
Donald asks Capital Edge what they felt of Adam’s leadership. Markus comments that Adam showed his inexperience at times and other times he was strong. Clay felt that Adam grew a lot during this task. Donald asks Excel what they thought of Randal as a PM. Marshawn says that he was excellent and Brian says “as always”.
Carolyn reported on Capital Edge and said that they taught a class on Sex in the Workplace about intimacy in the workplace. The comments were “no agenda”, “no flow of ideas”, “poor presentation”, and “boring for a juicy topic”. The audience was then to rate the class from 1 to 10 using the criteria of: educational merit, educational value and presentation. Their overall score is 6.98.
George says that Excel took a different approach and taught a class called Standout: How to Make Your Mark. The comments this class received were “It was lots of fun”, “Randal was a good coach”, “the representatives were friendly and well-informed”, “dynamic”, “informative” and “bravo”. Their average score was a 7.07. Excel wins by a hair. Donald says that to the best of his knowledge, Randal hasn’t lost as PM yet. He asks the team if Randal should be exempt and they heartily agree. Donald says that is task was all about teaching but they will get a lesson as students. They will receive instruction about how to dress for success. World famous clothing designer Michael Kors will give each winning team member a brand new personalized outfit from his Madison Avenue boutique. Alla’s jaw tightens.
Back at the suite, Adam says that the 5 minutes following Donald announcing that their team lost was the worst part of this whole interview process. Alla says that they just need to suck it up and go onto the next task. Easy for her to have this attitude, as she is exempt from firing. Alla says that she is not prone to jealousy but she loves Michael Kors and she is jealous and ticked off because they were so close to winning that task. Rebecca, however, cannot hide her glee.
Michael Kors closes down his boutique for the Excel Corporation. Michael lets the team loose to try on everything and anything on a hanger. The men and women model many winning combinations and give each other the thumbs up on their new outfits. Michael Kors sends them away with overflowing designer duds to increase their chances of success. Marshawn believes this is the best reward so far and not having to set foot in the boardroom is a bonus as well.
The members of Capital Edge are trying to put a shine on their own clothes as they prepare to face judge and jury tonight. Alla and Adam discuss Clay’s presentation style. Alla hammers this fact to Adam that even though Markus does slow down the team that is not the reason they lost the task, it was the presentation and that falls on Clay. Markus says that if anyone wants to pin this loss on him, they are crazy.
To the boardroom drama, Donald asks Adam why this task failed. Adam states that Clay was the main reason why they lost. Adam says that Clay made a statement about Adam being a tight assed Jew. Clay tries to defend himself and say that this was not what he said. Donald asks if it was stated in a derogatory manner and Adam says yes. Clay says that he did not say what Adam stated. Donald asks George, who is of Jewish descent, his opinion of the remark. George says that there is no place for that type of remark. Alla tries to steer the discussion of Clay to other areas but Adam interrupts her and says that Clay repeatedly commented on Adam’s heritage. Donald asks Clay if he is anti-Semite and Clay states that he is not. Clay says that he has apologized for his comments. Alla again tries to interject but Adam cuts her off. Adam states that he wanted the presentation to not be too provocative but educate as well as entertain. Carolyn asks what the class was about. Alla states that it was to help people deal with sex in the workplace.
Donald asks Markus why the team lost. Markus begins to stammer. Markus felt that Clay was the reason for the loss because he brought homosexuality into the arena. Alla says that he kept talking about being slapped on the ass. Donald asks Clay if he is a homosexual and Clay acknowledges this fact. Donald smirks as if to say “good to know”. He then asks Markus if he knew this about Clay and Markus says that he did know this. Donald asks the other members of the team if they were aware of Clay’s sexual preference and they all had prior knowledge. Donald says that this is good however, he did not know this about Clay. Donald says to Clay that he probably doesn’t find Alla or Felisha attractive. Clay says that they are beautiful women but they are not his thing. Donald says that this is why there are menus in restaurants. He likes steak and some people like spaghetti. This is why there are menus. It is a great world. This was priceless…I would love to hear the Donald tell his children about the birds and the bees.
Donald then tells Markus to finish up his point, which is unable to do. Donald asks him what other topic would he have suggested. Markus brought up the “time management” topic. Markus tries to explain and Alla snickers. Markus says that for some reason this is funny. Alla says that it was unbelievable how difficult it was to extract even a basic framework of what Markus was trying to communicate. Markus tries to explain again and it is just a jumbled mess. Donald tells him that he is not speaking very well. Markus agrees. George says that usually Markus speaks a lot but tonight he is not making any sense at all. Markus asks what the question was again and it is reviewed to be why did the team lose. Markus begins a stream of consciousness display and Donald says enough. He asks Adam for two people to join him in the boardroom. He chooses Clay and Markus. Adam looks pleased with himself that Markus is in meltdown mode.
Donald asks George who he is the most unhappy with of the three. George says that Clay was inappropriate with his remarks that have no place in the marketplace. He feels that the key to being a good executive is sensitivity. Donald says that he is impressed with Adam and Markus just talks and talks and says nothing. Carolyn notices that Markus has a pattern of taking himself out of the project and then has an “I told you so” attitude when the team loses.
Adam, Clay and Markus march back into the boardroom and take their places. Donald asks Adam if he has ever had sex. Clay smirks. Adam says that he doesn’t feel comfortable answering that question. Carolyn hides a giggle. Donald wonders if Adam put himself in a difficult situation. Adam said that he was in a difficult place at the beginning but he put himself out there during the task. Donald wonders why he has such a hard time talking about sex when it is no big deal.
Donald asks Clay if Adam is weak. Clay says that he believes that Adam leads by following what the group wants to do. He also says that Markus was weak as well. Carolyn smugly asks what Markus did in this task. Markus starts to say how he helped one lady and then Carolyn says that she feels that Markus believes in the cover your ass theory. (Excuse me, but is “ass” the word of the day or what?) Markus leans forward towards Carolyn and asks, “Uh, what?” He looks stunned. Carolyn begins to beat up on Markus by telling him that he is always complaining before the outcome and that he is very negative. Adam agrees that he gave Markus all sorts of tasks that he didn’t complete and that he is not focused. Markus disagrees, saying that he brings integrity and excellence to the team. Clay says that Alla was trying to tell Markus to get focused to bring in 5 ideas to the meeting and Markus couldn’t think this way and could only come up with one “grand” idea.
Adam feels that the reason the team lost was that Clay did a few things that took away from the presentation. He brings up the Jewish comments and says that he has accepted Clay’s apology and does not believe that Clay is anti-Semitic. Donald says that this is a really big thing that Adam has just said. Donald asks Adam again if he thinks Clay is anti-Semitic and Adam says that he does not. He feels that they lost the task because of some low scores that were too provocative. George says that they shouldn’t have picked sex if they didn’t want a provocative subject. Adam says that he wanted it to be tasteful and George says that sex in itself is provocative. Donald assures Adam that maybe in 10 years he hopes that Adam has more experience with sex although it has gotten him (Donald) into a lot of trouble and cost him a lot of money. He hopes that he knows more about it in the future because there is nothing like it. (Alright, I am blushing right along with Adam.) Even Carolyn looks a bit flustered.
Donald tells Markus that he talks too much and that he talks in riddles and for this task he didn’t do a good job. Markus says that he did an outstanding job. Donald says there is no way that he did an outstanding job because they lost. He would take Markus saying that he did an okay job but no way was it outstanding. Markus says that he did an outstanding job in taking a topic and selling it to a demographic blah blah blah. Donald says that the problem with Markus is that he always has an excuse for everything. Donald turns his attention to Clay and tells him, that he really believes that he is not anti-Semitic and he was relieved that Adam doesn’t feel this way either. He was also relieved because since Clay is gay, he is sure that Clay has felt discrimination. Clay says that no one deserves to be discriminated against. Donald says that nevertheless, he did a horrible job. Donald tells Adam that he is very young and soft and he is not sure if he should move on. Adam says that he will prove that he is not too young and that he is not soft.
Donald says that the problem with this group is Markus, with his too much talking, talking nonsense and so many words and not getting to the point. He believes that Markus just can’t work for him and so with that “Markus, You are fired!” To add to the validity of the firing, when Donald wishes Markus luck, Markus replies snidely, “If you mean it, I don’t think you mean it. It has been a railroad from the beginning.” Donald ponders the meaning of the interview process having been a “railroad”. Markus tries to respond but Donald says that he talks too long and too much. Markus doesn’t feel that they have had enough experience with him to know. Donald apparently disagrees. Markus leaves.
Adam and Clay enter the elevator and Clay snaps at Adam, “Don’t talk to me!”
Donald, Carolyn and George shake their collective heads. Donald sums it up by saying that Markus just talked too much and he didn’t see him being able to work for him. Carolyn says that she didn’t like that he didn’t do anything and Donald agrees that he doesn’t have time to listen to him and he feels good about his decision.
Markus rides away in his taxicab with the following thoughts, “The team took advantage of my ideas. You know, let’s see what I am saying, it is you know, uh, I mean, the you know, that I speak intelligently and I speak to the point, I speak to the details, I do go into details, you know, I you know, I try to step up and do the right thing, I uh, you know, when you have done all you can do, um I don’t know where you go from there, I don’t have a clue”. Bingo!
Well, it has been quite a ride for Markus. He actually lasted a lot longer than I would have predicted. He was always a loose cannon and a potential liability to any team that he was on but these last few weeks have seen him appear to crumble. Did the stress and pressure get the best of him? Did he find that he was over his head? Do the rigors of this marathon interview process turn some into babbling monkeys?
King Randal is gaining even more momentum, as is Queen Alla. Felisha is definitely under the radar. Rebecca has been hobbling and trying to stay out of sight as she narrowly escaped her week as PM. There are 8 Donald wannabe’s left, who do you pick as your final four? Email me and we can compare our short lists. Comments are always welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Next week, watch as the candidates battle for galactic supremacy and hope that the Force is with them as they continue to wow the Donald.