Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Reality Bites - Apprentice wrap-up and Billionaire update

Let’s start this “Reality Check” week off with a nice summary (above) on Donald Trump’s recent bankruptcy from the best comedy satire newspaper and site ever created, The Onion.

Last week saw the end of a notably weaker Apprentice season (though I admit our Tivo grabbed every one and we sat through all of them). Kelly seemed like the obvious choice the whole time, though I thought the entire cast was a step back from the first season. As usual, Trump didn’t exactly wow me with his wisdom for entrepreneurs and seemed to govern like a casual viewer of the show who couldn’t make up his mind about anything. He seemed to make impulsive decisions in each boardroom, often based on how much someone fought in the boardroom as opposed to the results. As a result, the abrasive Jen made it to the end, out-yelling Sandy for the runner-up position.

Here’s what I wished Trump would have actually said to Kelly and Jen with the final verdict: “Kelly, you are quiet, organized and professional, qualities that I myself don’t really have or relate to, but you are an experienced entrepreneur who has shown the qualities of taking risks again and again, and that is what entrepreneurship and capitalism is all about. Jen, you are here because of your long flowing hair, and I fantasize about you being another trophy wife of mine (I, in fact, like people who imitate how I eat shrimp cocktail), but at the end of the day you are just a very well educated attorney, and while attorneys fill vital roles in the business world, they are inherently trained to NOT take risks, and ultimately paralyze companies if given too much control. I probably should have given Sandy the last shot at it since she actually had the moxie to start her own small business, but couldn’t help myself since you’re just so beeeoooouuuuuteeeffuuuul!”

Seriously – Kelly’s past history of starting three companies (at least one of which failed) was hinted at in the interviews but never explored much, which Jen going to Princeton and Harvard vs. Kelly going to West Point was covered again and again. Very East Coast. Very boorish. Donald – you’re fired.

The Rebel Billionaire has seemed to catch its stride recently, and has my attention in a much bigger way. The show isn’t as well produced, and had some dead weight contestants, but most of them our now off (with Candita’s last show last night). The leaders to me look like Gabe, Sara, Shawn and Erika, though Erika is being positioned as in cahoots with Nicole, who has clearly assumed the role of the vile spawn of Satan on this show. Nicole is also a attorney, probably for Al Qaeda, and also can be a bit of a looker in the right light, so look out. I think that Branson will have the sense to get rid of her, so Erika might be associating herself too much with Nicole.

Overall, the contests are more interesting than the Apprentice because they fly all around the world to do them – Morocco last week, Japan this week, etc. – being more subtle in their promotion of Virgin than Trump Water, for example, but overall showing the U.S. that resistance is futile toward the Virgin brand – it’s a huge force that’s coming this way. The contests are a little too promotion centric, but hopefully we’ll get a few more that really test business skills in the weeks ahead now that we’re down to the best contestants.

For an alternative view of Trump, and probably the best Apprentice de-briefs on the internet, tune in to my friend Martin Tobias’s excellent blog: Deep Green Crystals.


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