1/15 Episode – The Power of Pointy Things
Hello friends, I am here pinch hitting for your usual, and far more talented re-capper, Wayner. Rumor has it that The Donald enjoyed his writing from the premier episode so much that he had Wayner flown in to Trump Plaza for direct consultations. Now many have claimed that Wayner was in this episode as the pilot in the cockpit of the Marquis Jet, but that is just crazy talk, Wayner hasn’t flown a plane since that day over Macho Grande.
Wayner has returned home, and will be back with you next week. For now though, please return your seats to the upright and locked position, for it is time to take off.
All Donald, all the time
We begin by looking back at last week. The twist is that Donald himself recaps the previous episode, and does a good job of it. Now, obviously he took the opportunity to make sure we remember that he has gaudy buildings, a private jet and helicopter in the process, but it was a strong effort. If you would like details on it, you are better suited reading Wayner’s recap of last week.
My summary? Big planes, big mansion, and of course, big hair.
We join the teams at their swank apartment hideaway just as Sam and Troy return from the firing ceremony. Troy seems to be over it, but Sam is depressed. In fact, I suspect Sam is milking it with the ladies just a bit when he sullenly announces “David is gone” and goes to his room. Hey Sam, David is not dead, it’s okay buddy; he only went to the big garbage bin of Trump rejections in the sky. He can say hi to Marla and Ivana while he is there.
Later we see a confessional where Sam tells us that he is sure Donald has only a tiny amount of faith in the Versacorp team. He thinks that they all might get the boot if they screw up again. Sam! Step back from that ledge! Besides, the Donald is executive producer of this little program, so you can be certain it will be only one boot a week. There is no way he is passing up the chance to get the Trump name on prime time TV for the next several weeks.
Nevertheless, some of Sam’s fears are well founded. The guys were whipped last week, and they really need a comeback performance in the next challenge, or they will begin to run out of resources in their team.
Meanwhile the ladies are not wasting anytime celebrating their victory. Instead they hang out in the kitchen for impromptu meeting. Yes, it is time to start the age battle over who will the alpha male… er… female.
Omarosa, who has been trying to earn extra credit by designing a logo for the Protégé Corp, wants to select a leader in advance of the next competition, so that they can be better organized. Ereka disagrees. She wants a vote to occur, and is calling for nominations.
The battle lines are drawn. Omarosa and Ereka eye each other warily. They are both veterans, with many victories under their belts before this match. Neither will back down. It is like a scene from Highlander… “there can be only one!” I grab some popcorn, this could be a 12 rounder.
Sadly, the tension is broken when Amy agrees to take the team lead position if Omarosa and Ereka agree to stop their bickering. Personally I would have held out for Ereka to put a shirt on, and give up on the Brandy Chastain sport bra look, but that is just me.
At this point I remember what Donald said about assembling the “best and the brightest” for this competition. You know the last time someone in power tried to assemble the best and the brightest was when JFK was in office, and that only ended up getting us deeper into Vietnam. I am not sure that much is at risk with these people, but after seeing them in action for two shows, anything is possible.
Dude, Where’s My Jet?
The next day our teams travel to the Deutsch advertising agency. Their task is straightforward. They will produce a TV and print media campaign for Marquis Jet, which is a time share private jet service. Not only do the winners avoid losing someone to the Trump firing squad, but they get rewarded with a private jet excursion up to Boston for a dinner. There is a lot on the line.
The first thing the guys need to do is select a leader. Whereas the ladies selected in advance, the men decided to wait and see what type of task they were assigned. Given an advertising job at hand, they turn to Jason, who says he was worked in the field. I am not sure if hawking beef stick for Hickory Farms in a mall during the holidays counts as an advertising job, but hey, Jason seems like a nice guy, so let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.
Donald arrives and introduces the teams to Donnie Deutsch, who is the head of the company, and Donald assures us that he is the “best there is”. I am guessing Donnie has compromising pictures of Trump somewhere, and this is payback.
Now I have a little bit background in dealing with ad agencies, and have sat in on many pitch sessions. Donnie immediately launches into every single cliché I have had the pleasure of hearing in the past, including the classic, “think outside the box”. The only thing missing was a reference to paradigms and post it notes.
We are also treated to the obligatory cool hip dude on a scooter racing around the office. You see folks, that is how you know the Deutsch agency is fresh, and ready to create buzz with the Gen X’ers. If that is the best they can do, then perhaps the teams will be saving this account for Deutsch.
Phallic Symbols, They Aren’t Just for Breakfast Anymore!
The ladies get right to work, start strong when Amy calls the CEO of Marquis Jet and asks for a meeting to go over their expectations for the advertising campaign. It turns out that they can get in that morning.
The ladies will split up, and Omarosa wants to stay with the power team, and get some face time with yet another CEO. Amy has different ideas, and she has decided that Ereka will go with her because she knows how to get around in NYC, and that means in no way will she allow Omarosa to be in the same room with her nemesis in front of a client they are trying to impress. Omarosa hates the decision of course, but I was impressed with Amy showing very strong leadership there. The remaining ladies head to the airport with a camera crew to shoot their commercial.
Over in the guys conference room, Jason has decided that they need to brainstorm ideas. So far, so good. However, Troy suggests that they call Marquis Jet and talk about the ad. Jason says no, they don’t have time.
Don’t have time to talk to your client?
I was sitting in my leather recliner / recap chair, and I was screaming at my TV, “No Jason! No!” That was a major mistake. On the other hand, in a real situation Jason never would have gotten the account in the first place without having talked to the client, so Jason’s decision was not as hard to believe as it seems at first glance. Nevertheless, it was a disastrous move. Further, it seemed that Jason had a little bit of initial panic going on, but then they didn’t teach this stuff at smoked sausage school.
The guys decide that Nick, Bowie, Kwame, and Bill will head over to the hanger for commercials and photo opportunities. They will continue to think of ideas on the drive, which indicates that the hours of brainstorming were wasted. That leaves Troy, Sam, and Nick back at the office to coordinate getting materials together. This team is fractured with a lot of confusion over who is doing what as Jason fires off instructions faster than Enron executives running through their annual report.
Meanwhile, just up the street, Amy and Ereka have arrived at Marquis Jet, and get their meeting with the CEO and VP of Marketing. We don’t see a lot of details, but everyone is smiling, and Amy is happy with the outcome. The Marquis Jet execs are undoubtedly happy because they got more airtime for their company. Oh, and I am sure they smiled and nodded as Amy talked.
However, what we don’t know is the content of that discussion, and while I applaud Amy for making it happen, it may not have impacted their campaign at all. Out at the airport it seems Tammy has own ideas about what this ad campaign is going to be about. I suppose the best way to sum it up would be to say that Tammy apparently has one thing on her mind lately, and it is a growth business. Yes, when in doubt, always go with the phallic symbols.
Seriously though, I don’t think the idea was that bad. People have equated planes to sex for quite sometime, and there is a reason advertisers like to sell sports cars as not having a drivers seat, but instead a cockpit. Planes are sexy, and Tammy aims to exploit that issue to a new high… or low.
Not surprisingly, Omarosa has some doubts, calling the idea disgusting, and she isn’t the only one. The photographer is shaking his head as he photographs Katrina sitting on the wing of a jet, in a short skirt, leaning against the pilot. I have to agree, it was sexy; that Citation X is an extremely sexy piece of equipment. Tammy sticks to her guns though saying her idea will “combine serious with funky”.
I see the funky. That is coming through loud and clear, no offense Katrina, but where is the serious again?
Back to the guys, we listen in on a phone call from Sam to Bill. Sam, says Warren Buffett owns Netjets, which apparently has something to do with their ad. To me it means that I ought to invest some money in Netjets, so maybe Sam’s call was the best ad of the night. The guys are annoyed to be interrupted by Sam. Sam is mad at Jason because he provides no motivation. Nick points out that if you ask Sam what time it is, he will tell you how to build a clock. All this talk about time reminds me that the guys still have no freaking idea what their theme will be. This is not looking good.
Nick saves the day, coming up with an idea that is short on groundbreaking principles, but is instead well founded in traditional advertising methods. It will highlight the elegance and sophistication of the Marquis Jet experience. Red carpet, limousine, and the jet all are featured prominently. In other words, it is boring.
Field work complete, both teams head back to Manhattan to wrap up the project.
When all Else Fails, Dress Like a Flight Attendant!
The ladies put together their draft presentation and are reviewing it with Caroline. You can tell by her body language that she is not very impressed with the concept. Well either that, or she is mad at Amy for changing her hairstyle yet again, but it is likely the ad campaign that bothers her.
Over in the guy’s office, the airport team has not yet returned, but Sam is starting to lose it. First he puts his head down on the table, and then he goes over to the floor and collapses. I thought maybe he was having a seizure or something, but it seems that Jason’s non motivation has led to Sam becoming comatose. That might actually help the team though, so they roll with it.
Back with the Protégé squad, we see that the ladies are going to follow through on their presentation by improvising and dressing as flight attendants. None of that screams executive material to me. Instead it prompts me to want another pillow and a Bloody Mary, but they are putting a lot of enthusiasm into this, and that is probably what matters.
Into the conference room they trot, and Amy has selected Omarosa to make the initial presentation. Yes, the lady who has been openly hostile toward this entire concept from start to finish is up front kicking off the discussion.
Now maybe it is too much of the Survivor analyst in me, or too much of having been on both sides of the table in just that kind of a meeting before, but I can tell you that decision by Amy is one of the brightest moves I have seen yet. Amy is showing that she is ready to handle difficult situations and could be a strong contender to win it all. She knew she had a conflict on her team, yet she used Ereka’s strengths (which in this case happened to be knowing how to get to Marquis Jet), and Omarosa’s strength (which is professionalism and confidence) and put them in position to succeed. Further, in Omarosa’s case, she now had to do a great job of presenting the idea, or the failure to do so would fall on her shoulders. No opportunity to sit in the back and snipe at Amy if the client was skeptical. I give Omarosa credit for doing a great job, but I thought Amy’s work as leader was outstanding, and showed wisdom that will serve her well in the future.
The ladies continue through their presentation and Omarosa hands off to Heidi. Donnie Deutsch has picked up on the direction of the ad campaign, and he is a little leery, but he lets them continue on. Heidi leans over the table in an aggressive stance, and Donnie is impressed, he tells her “I like the lean”. I took that as Donnie was congratulating her on good business presence during what is a very tough sell of an idea. Heidi took that as an invitation to get up on the table and go for the even more sexual route. I shutter to think what might have happened if there were brass pole nearby.
The ladies almost lost the contest right there. Amy and Omarosa’s sheer confidence, the audacity of Tammy’s idea, combined with the presence the ladies had in the room had swayed the judges. Heidi though brought it all back down to earth, and reminded us that so far, they are winning with sex in both the lemonade contest and here. Donnie says as much when he comments that they have set the women’s movement back many years.
All the guys would have to do is present a reasonable idea, and they should walk away with it. Surely they could do that couldn’t they?
During their preps, the men are again arguing, and Nick is trying to give some (very good I might add) pointers on how to present their campaign. Rather that have Nick do it though, Jason has decided to send forth Kwame. Nothing against Kwame, and the hand in the pocket look might work in the JC Penney catalog, but it is not helping you here.
The truth is that the guys’ just look unprepared and less enthusiastic compared to the ladies. I thought their ideas (especially the print media plan that shows flight delays) were actually better than the ladies (and you can see the campaigns at http://www.nbc.com/nbc/The_Apprentice/ad_campaigns/ ) for a company that is going to try to sell timeshare luxury air time to both CEO’s and the Board of Directors who will have to answer to shareholders as to why they spent money on this non-critical item. It is easier to sell the Board with the guy’s approach than the ladies method.
That doesn’t matter though as the ladies created a campaign that was much closer to what Donnie asked for. They stretched the limits and went for shock value. Further, they presented with enthusiasm, and came across as the better thinkers. In the end, the guys’ tactic of handing out cigars looked pathetic, and further highlighted their weakness.
It is no surprise that Donnie declares the women as victors.
Pots and Kettles, Dinners and Jets
The women immediately jump into their limo and head for the airport. On the way out, they wonder what it must be like for the men at that moment. Well, it is isn’t good. Jason is taking a lot of heat for not talking with the client, and they all want to know who he is taking to the board room with him.
So while the ladies dine at Olives in Boston, the men are frying up burgers back at the hotel. The women stay out quite late though, and are still in the limo at 3am on the way home. Omarosa is grumpy.
I know, you are shocked to hear that. Omarosa seems like such a shiny happy people kind of gal, but no, she is tired and mad. She tells everyone else to “be quiet”.
Yeah, that should work. Have you ever been the designated driver with a car full of drunk women? Well I have, and it is not nearly as fun as you think it is. Obviously Omarosa’s request was going to fall on drunk ears, so she proceeds to pout.
That leads to a rather annoying blow up between Ereka and Omarosa on the flight back. There were many accusations of black pots, kettles, racism, who was the better intimidator, and just a general attitude of questioning the integrity of their respective gene pools. These two need an intervention and fast.
Back with the guys. They are getting ready to head off for the firing ceremony. Sam is back in a funk, and Troy decides to try his “close your eyes and think about your happy place while wearing this stupid hat” therapy. It was quite touching really.
In the board room Donald gets right to the point. He turns to Jason and asks, “What happened?”
Jason gives a strong answer in that they presented a “phenomenal package” (and here I thought that was the angle the ladies were pursuing?), but that it just wasn’t what the client wanted.
Now here is where Jason seals his fate. By going with that excuse, he opens up the question of why didn’t he ask the client what they wanted. Jason should have prepared to answer that question.
Donald gathers feedback from the other men, and all but one are very supportive of Jason. Donald quizzes Nick to determine if he is giving so much praise to avoid being selected. A darn good question, but Nick handles it well, and remains supportive.
Sam, on the other hand, points out that while Jason’s work was not terrible, he doesn’t think it was good. His body language and inflection scream out “Jason is a big loser, now boot him so I can get back to sucking up to you properly Mr. Trump sir!”
It falls to Kwame to say the obvious. The men should have talked to Marquis Jet directly. Trump agrees, saying the failure to do so was a “terrible decision”.
So Jason is on the firing line, and question is, who will go with him. Sam is number one, and Jason points out that he fell asleep on the job, which raises Trump’s eyebrows. No small task that eyebrow raising.
However, in a shocking decision, Jason decides to take his biggest supporter, Nick, along for the fun ride. Even the Donald is surprised. Nick is upset, and wants to know why he was chosen. A fair question adds Donald, who points out that Jason is not showing loyalty to someone who stood up for him a few moments earlier. Bad sign Jason.
The men leave the room to allow George, Caroline, and Donald to debate. It is going to be a short debate, and if you want some insight as to what it is like to work for Donald, look no further than this exchange. George has been a key player in nearly every successful move Trump has made in business. If there is anyone on this earth that he should trust, it would be George. George makes it very clear that Sam is not an acceptable candidate, he wants him gone. Donald likes Sam. Guess who wins?
So why does Donald like Sam? He keeps making reference to Sam being either a breakthrough success, or a crash and burn failure. Based on what I have seen, I am leaning toward the latter. However, I bet Trump sees thousands of people who are steady middle of the road bets, but a guy like Sam is exciting because in his opinion, the upside is huge. In other words, Sam is a young version of what Donald seems himself as. There is my free Bill amateur psychologist view of the week. No charge for the first session.
Jason, Sam, and Nick return. Nick wants to step in right away and understand why he was nominated. Once again Donald shows support for Nick. Jason is on the spot, and he cannot seem to come up with a good reason for the pick. He tries to pin everything on Sam.
Nick is inconsolable, and wants to continue to talk. Donald cuts him off saying that he has nothing to worry about, he is not going home. However, he needs to sit quietly the rest of the session. Nick wisely follows that instruction.
So it is down to Sam and Jason. The sleeper versus the leader who made critical errors. They argue a lot but that is the condensed version. At one point Sam starts criticizing several areas of Jason’s performance, and Donald rebukes him with the always pleasant “Sam, in many ways you’re a disaster” comeback. I think Sam was ready to cry.
Not to worry though, as Donald knew all along who was going to get axed, and it is Jason.
As the show closes, Donald describes Jason as a spectacular young man who didn’t deal with the boss. Yes, that one decision cost you Jason, but get used to it, in the real business world, it really does work that way.
Wayner returns, the ladies argue, and it appears the men make Sam their leader in the new competition. It should be fun!
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