The Apprentice 2010: Final Task Performance Review, Part 1

Each week as contestants compete for a $250,000 job contract, get the leadership lessons you can use to succeed

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Despite her project manager victory, Liza comes up short.

The 2010 edition of The Apprentice, NBC’s business reality show starring and executive produced by real estate mogul Donald Trump, features entrepreneurs and professionals competing for a $250,000 job contract with the Trump organization. Each week the contestants must complete a business task. The winners are rewarded; the losers must report to the infamous boardroom, where at least one candidate will be fired by Trump. Of the three African Americans featured on this edition of The Apprentice, only Liza Mucheru-Wisner remains. With each task of The Apprentice 2010, I will post performance reviews of the candidates, their teams and their project managers.

Read and comment on other performance reviews of The Apprentice 2010 Tasks.

Leadership Lesson: Great leaders are able to win allies, inspire loyalty and cooperation and win support from those who are ambivalent and even hostile to their ambitions. Ultimately, the test of great leadership is the ability to get people behind them to achieve common goals and objectives.

With the firing of Steuart Martens after Task 11, the final three are Clint Robertson, Brandy Kuentzel and Liza Wisner. To get to his Final Two candidates, Trump fires Liza. His reasoning: Liza’s failure to get any peer support from any of the other candidates during her entire tenure to this point. In fact, both Clint and Brandy named her the weakest remaining candidate when asked by Trump (Liza named Brandy).

I can’t argue with Trump’s logic. However, after reviewing my notes from every task from the first to the last, I can’t see where Brandy has proven herself to be a stronger performer than Liza. In my view, they are equally qualified at best. With the exception of her successful stint as project manager on Task 8, Brandy never stood out beyond being the go-to person for spoken presentations. And she did her best to be neither a help nor a hindrance to her rivals, no matter which team she was on, volunteering no ideas and doing just what she was asked and no more during the past few weeks.

So I stick to my position that Liza was a stronger performer than Brandy, not because Liza is so brilliant, but because Brandy was hardly trying. That said, I weigh task performance far above boardroom strategy in my assessments, and it’s clear that Liza’s inability to gain the support of her peers and her overly emotional conduct in the boardroom in general were consistent problems. By contrast, Brandy’s more low profile approach guaranteed that she’d rarely, if ever, be at risk in the boardroom. She was rarely the key to her teams’ victories, but she could hardly be blamed for their losses. Liza could not get her peers to say anything positive about her in the boardroom, while Brandy made it difficult to find anything negative to point to during boardroom sessions. That’s why Brandy, not Liza, is facing off against Clint on the Final Task.

Final Task, Part 1: Brandy, as the candidate with the most recent project manager victory, gets first choice of either a team composed of previously fired candidates or a task. She decides to make choosing her team the priority, leaving Clint to get first choice of the tasks. Brandy selects Liza, Stephanie Castagnier and Anand Vasudev, leaving Clint with Steuart, Poppy Carlig and Mahsa Saeidi-Azcuy. The obvious flashpoints of potential conflict: Stephanie is still chief spokesperson for the Liza haters club; Mahsa still resents Clint for his role in her being branded a liar after Task 7.

Clint chooses to produce a dinner gala at Trump National Golf Resort in Westchester, N.Y., with a live performance by Liza Minnelli. This leaves Brandy to produce the VIP golf tournament, featuring comedian Kathy Griffin, also at Trump National earlier in the day. Clint is encouraged by Steuart’s experience in the hospitality industry, while Brandy is counting on Liza’s knowledge of the game of golf to give her an edge.

After learning of the special needs of Liza Minnelli, her band, her green room accommodations and other requirements of her contract rider, Clint takes steps to ensure that every detail is attended to. He approves the hiring of an outside caterer, separate from the services provided by the resort, to focus specifically on the needs of Minnelli and her band. His first crisis is when that caterer suddenly backs out of the gig at the last minute. However, Steuart gets on the phone and scrambles to find a replacement–problem solved. But there’s a bigger problem: Mahsa and Poppy discover that Minnelli’s name is misspelled on all of the event posters, as well as the place cards for the dinner. It appears that getting them reprinted and delivered to the resort will require a rush job that will take them far beyond their budget. The person with specific responsibility for the printing: Clint.

Brandy, who admits she knows nothing about golf, Stephanie and Anand make no bones about leaning on Liza for her experience with golf tournaments. When discussing gift bag items for 120-130 golfers and prizes for tournament winners, they conclude that gift certificates are the way to go. However, when Liza and Anand are sent to the pro shop to buy the gift cards (with a budget of $25,000), Liza decides to buy golf equipment as prizes, including complete $1,000 golf sets for tournament winners. Anand doesn’t agree, but defers to Liza. Brandy and Stephanie are livid when they find out, but decide it’s too late to do anything about it. After securing Kathy Griffin to greet and briefly entertain the golfers before starting the tournament, Brandy calls Trump to find out who he wants in his golf foursome and is dismayed when he says he wants to golf with Liza. Brandy sees this as a loss of both manpower and expertise, as Liza is the only person on the team who knows anything about how golf tournaments work. On the morning of the tournament, Anand gets a call from the photographer Brandy hired. Because she wasn’t clear about the location of the tournament, he is at Trump’s golf resort in Bedminster–a full two hours away from the Westchester resort.

Who will be the next apprentice? Next week, we’ll see the outcome of both tasks, and Trump will hire his next apprentice. At this stage of the game, anything can happen. But I still expect Clint to win it all.

What do you think? Did Trump’s rationale for firing Liza make sense to you? Can Brandy upset Clint to become Trump’s newest apprentice? Weigh in with your comments!

  • Tina Walker

    I don’t usually comment on these things, but I think it was obvious several tasks back that Trump was less than impressed with Liza. And, as a Black woman, I am constantly disappointed in the women selected to participate in The Apprentice. The Black women have mostly been those with hair-trigger anger issues, an inability to garner respect (in my opinion, because they are simply outnumbered by their majority peers) and a little lacking in the strategic management category. As many professional and competent Black women as there are out there, why are they not really represented on this show??

    Liza is smart, but can’t articulate it unless it’s in a defensive posture.
    It might be interesting to look at the role that racial diversity and its dynamics play in this show. It is obvious that we can succeed in Corporate America (Andrea Jung @ Avon; Ursula Burns @ Xerox) So, why do you think that in MOST reality competitions, an African American candidate rarely makes it to the finals, even when they are talented? I hate conspiracy theories, but come on…Garbage In, Garbage Out. Are they choosing from the Talented Tenth or are they choosing marginal candidates from the beginning to stack the deck in favor of a majority race candidate? For example, in this show, the first eliminated was an Asian-American, Glenn was the only African-American male, who was set up in Task 1 by his white peers to be the fall guy if things went badly, etc… This is probably my last season watching this show.

  • Calvin J. Adolph

    I love throwing out new scenarios after every task. Though not impressed by some of the decisions made by Liza during this final task review, she really had no chance of winning when everybody was against her from the start. Looking at the blunders that have occurred during this final task it will be hard to place the blame on Liza when she is out playing golf with The Donald. All kinds of weaknesses are starting to become exposed And let’s take a look at the characters who are placed in this episode for comic relief: Trump is aware that Stephanie has held a grudge against Liza since day one, but places them on the same team; Mahsa is hamming it up for the camera in anticipation of her as yet unannounced show by trying to channel her best Omarosa impersonation; and Donald Jr. makes a crack at Anand about cheating (I would have had to beat his butt on that one. What are they gonna do, fire Anand?). I believe, mostly because of her golf game, that Trump will be embarrassed by the two finalists and have no choice but to offer the position to Liza (it could happen). This reality show format has been nothing but entertainment to us because have we ever been put into a situation as ridiculous as the ones in the previous tasks and given only 48 hours to put them together?

  • As predicted, Liza has been fired-no surprise there. I have been fairly critical of Liza’s performance over the weeks but her final boardroom appearance was the most disappointing of all. When asked by Trump, why he should make them the next apprentice, both Clint and Brandy gave very good answers and sold themselves effectively. As I’ve said before, Brandy may fly under the radar but she definitely knows when to turn it on and the way she listed her credentials and experience was fluid, believable and just plain impressive.

    When Liza gave her answer, I wanted to crawl under a chair. She gave an answer the equivalent of “well this show is to help people and I could really use your help”. She did not sell herself at all. She never once told Trump how she would be of benefit to his organization. She even said “Working for you would be a big boost to my career.” while the other two were clear about what they felt they could contribute to his organization. So Alfred while Brandy may not have shown us much over the past few weeks, there was definitely a stark contrast between she and Liza in the boardroom.

    It was interesting that the only ally that Liza had throughout most of the show was Trump himself. I also read something that she wrote that suggests that she may not have forged any friendships with anyone during her time on the show. That’s unfortunate and may point to why Trump gave her his parting advice about getting along with people. I thought that Liza was being unfairly targeted and that there was some sort of witch hunt going on. But then I thought back to the beginning when she called Poppy the “b” word and how she consistently let her emotions get out of hand; I also remembered how she had a hard time joining forces to get the “right” person fired. I’ve concluded that it’s quite possible that what we saw as the infair treatment of Liza could have actually been the residual effects of her alienating behavior. Yup, firing Liza was a good call.

    The final tasks seem to be filled with blunders already. I can’t believe Clint didn’t do a once over (at least) on the spelling of the guest of honor’s name. That has to be biggest rookie mistake of his career. It will be interesting to see how he fixes this one with limited budget funds. If I were him, I’d strike some sort of deal with the printer that perhaps involved a sponsorship slot of some kind; something that would allow them advertising in exchange for the additional printing. Brandy is not much better-how do you not confirm the address? I mean really, I make Pizza Hut recite my address at least twice before I even THINK of allowing them off of the phone! Certainly this was far more important than my Veggie Lover’s Supreme??!! How do you miss that one?
    Isn’t it pretty standard, when you are expecting someone to visit your location that you end the conversation with, “Let me confirm the address…”

    I don’t golf so I’m not sure about the situation with the clubs. It stands to reason that wealthy attendees might want something other than a cheap set of clubs. Although I can understand Liza’s logic about having something tangible. I’ll need you golfers to help me out on that one. I’m going to stick with Clint to win it all unless of course he fails miserably on this task and gives it away.

    • Kathryn

      “I thought that Liza was being unfairly targeted and that there was some sort of witch hunt going on. But then I thought back to the beginning when she called Poppy the “b” word and how she consistently let her emotions get out of hand; I also remembered how she had a hard time joining forces to get the “right” person fired. I’ve concluded that it’s quite possible that what we saw as the infair treatment of Liza could have actually been the residual effects of her alienating behavior. Yup, firing Liza was a good call.”…I just had to comment on the above.
      I would remind you that Liza wasn’t the first or only candidate calling folks the ‘b’ word. Brandy cussed like a sailor and Stephanie and Mahsa were pit bulls. NONE of them was told by Trump to work on ‘getting along’. Why is that the standard for Liza but noone else? This is the real message of the Apprentice: white women can scratch, bite and claw, cheat, lie and flaunt their physical wares…but if a black woman employs similar strategies, she needs social remediation. THAT is my issue. Why did noone clown Brandy for never playing golf? They foamed at the mouth when Liza confessed to having never seen a Broadway musical. What the women really hated about Liza was the fact that Trump absolutely loved her. He thought she was beautiful and even requested her on his golf team for the final tournament. Similarly, Gene (the other black candidate) was clowned for being illiterate but Steuart, Brandy and Clint have all had stumbles, bumbles and misspellings and not faced the same level of criticism. The entire season was built on people out of work whomTrump promised to ‘help’. It has turned into a character assault. Additionally, the show has illuminated some deep seated racial issues in our country. We have clearly not overcome.
      Perhaps voters will remember this should Trump’s name appear on any presidential ballots next election.

      • Kathryn I couldn’t disagree with you more.

        First of all I’d like to remind you that on every single season of the Apprentice, Donald Trump has admonished someone for not “getting along” with fellow candidates. This is not exclusive to Liza. Have you forgotten about David, from this very season? In fact, the only other Black candidate that I can remember to ever be accused of not “getting along” is Omarosa. So clearly, you are not correct in suggesting that Liza’s race had anything to do with Trump’s advice to her.

        Secondly, the standards have NEVER been the same for African-Americans as they are for the rest of society. But I’m not sure if the Apprentice is the best example of that. We see far more blatant discrimination in the real world than we do on an edited reality show. If you are a business owner or professional, you should know that. And as far as the looks that Liza received after admitting that she had not seen a broadway musical? Well I’m pretty sure that almost anyone would have received the same. One with exposure to the arts is viewed by most at that level as being cultured & having some level of sophistication. So while its debatable, many would be shocked that a 30 year-old, educated woman had not seen a single broadway play-NO MATTER THE RACE! Personally Kathryn, I’d be more offended if they were shocked that a Black woman HAD seen a broadway play. That’s usually how racism works.

        Also, I find your theme a bit contradictory; how can you state, “What the women really hated about Liza was the fact that Trump absolutely loved her. He thought she was beautiful and even requested her on his golf team for the final tournament.” and then end your comments by suggesting that we should all boycott his efforts to become President (was that even in the cards??) due to his involvement in the show’s “deep seated” racism?

        Finally, I have said this before: This season was NOT built on the promise to ‘help’. This show is for ratings, entertainment and may offer an OPPORTUNITY to one person in the end. Not sure why people view this as some sort of charity exercise by Trump. Liza & Gene like all of the candidates, deserved the criticism they received. We know that things aren’t equal, and I have been very vocal about pointing out the “bounce back” effect that some groups have over others. But why state the obvious for situations that don’t warrant it? If for you,”the show has illuminated some deep seated racial issues in our country” I suggest you take another look or perhaps get out a little more. This show pales in comparison to the real struggles out here.

  • Sharon Jackson

    I have not been a fan or supporter of Liza the entire season. I was not surprised to see her fired. Brandy sort of reminds me of Kendra Todd – the Season 3 winner of The Apprentice. Kendra flew way under the radar until she was in the finals, and then won. Brandy and Liza are worlds apart and if I had to choose between the two, I would choose Brandy hands down. Liza is way too emotional and she never stood up for her ideas during the tasks.

    Any software program that has a built-in spell check would catch “Minelli” as being misspelled. How this was not caught is perplexing. I still think Clint has the upper-hand and the win is his to lose.

    Brandy seems aloof to me. Though she has been this way throughout the season, I was hoping she would take more of a leadership role now that she is in the finals. Instead she seems to rely heavily on others. No, Brandy is not a golf pro but common sense and definitely her credentials should be factored in her decision making. It is after all an event.

    The difference I see between Kendra Todd of Season 3 and Brandy is that Kendra once in the finals rolled up her sleeves and really started to shine. Though Brandy is well-educated with awesome credentials, she appears to lack the “fire in the belly.”

    I do agree with Liza that tangible gifts are better than gift certificates. Stephanie made a statement about millionaires not wanting a golf set yet I wonder if they would prefer a gift certificate where the value of it would be far less than the $1,000 golf clubs. This statement may come back to bite me, but I’m okay with that!

    I have always pulled for Clint to win it all. Brandy’s aloofness and willingness to defer to other people so that she seemingly doesn’t have to do the hard thinking will possibly back fire on her. Clint is never on the sidelines. His downfall may be in spreading himself too thin and not having the attention to detail that he should.

    Until Thursday…..

  • Calvin J. Adolph

    I thought the big boost for her career was placing ‘The Trump Network’ on her blogsite so that gullible people would buy into Trump’s network marketing scheme. The problem I have found in all of these contestants was that they never allowed themselves to ‘Dream Big’. From the Kim Kardashian boa blunder to the ‘I have credentials, but I’ve never played golf,’ the contestants have never thought as a celebrity or wealthy person. “What would I expect if I participated in a tournament?” should have constantly been on their minds. Trump expects his people to work comfortably among the movers and shakers of the world, not be in awe of them.

  • Sorry

    People please this show is scripted the producers choose weeks in advance who they have decided to win & the editing is done in a way to lead the viewers down the path they chose them to.

    Brandy has been under the radar all season and has not done anything to be an executive worthy of working in the Trump organization. Clint actually  lives in  a friends house with his family because despite being a CPA, attorney & a real state broker  his success in the business world has led him to be insolvent. Do either of these two people have the fiber to run one of Trumps companies?  The answer is no both are in the finals for whatever reason Mark Brunett & his staff have chosen them for. It amazes me how you the writer and people posting on here actually believe The Apprentice is a real competition Hello it’s a tv show a Reality tv show & believe it or not there is no such thing as a non scripted reality show.

  • Calvin J. Adolph

    If there is any lesson to be learned, I think that it is to broaden your horizon. Get out of your comfort zone. Learn a foreign language. Go to a play. Make friends with someone of another race. Learn to play golf. Travel to a foreign country. Take leisure classes such as wine tasting and culinary arts. READ ALL KINDS OF BOOKS. America is a good country, but you should learn to think globally if you truly want to grow..

  • Gad G.

    ‘We all know that going to Rome and doing what the Romans do is not as easy as the saying goes. Unfamiliar territory is unsettling and intimidating even for the toughest of us. All our heroes, heroines, icons and role models, President Obama included, will attest to that. Liza may not have performed to perfection but we in Kenya are extremely proud of her. Not because our standards are lower than yours in America but because our expectation of Liza is tempered by our understanding of what it has taken her to get where she is and what it is like to go to America and try to do what the Americans do. I think this is what Donald Trump was referring to when he said Liza does not have the same experience as the rest of the participants. Fortunately, he does recognize her talent. The Apprentice, being a reality show primarily focused on entertainment, is unlikely to bring out the best of each contestant and more likely to focus on the worst. If what we have watched is Liza’s worst, then to me, she’s definitely a winner.’

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