“The Apprentice 5” candidates introduced themselves by unleashing a tidal wave of university names, advanced degrees, and success stories about their experiences in the world of business. They gave off an aura of competence and intelligence, and as Donald Trump pointed out repeatedly, one of them is even a member of Mensa.
Alas, this group is just as stupid as the ones that have come before it.
After five seasons, the mistakes of the fallen might serve as valuable lessons for the new candidates. The new candidates could have learned a lot from history, studying past seasons to discover what worked and what did not. Instead, they just showed up and proceeded to screw up exactly like their predecessors had.
The first person to be fired, Summer, impressed no one with her abysmal performance. But she was not dismissed for her incompetence. Instead, she was fired for interrupting Donald Trump in the boardroom. Even pre-schoolers know that interrupting someone isn’t polite, and anyone who’s ever watched even one episode of “The Apprentice” knows how much Trump hates people who talk too much and, worse, interrupt him.
Thus, it was like some kind of bizarre “Apprentice” parody when, as Trump was clearly revving up his engines to fire project manager Tarek, Summer interrupted him. Trump was nothing short of apoplectic.
“How stupid is that?” he cried. “I’m getting ready to almost fire this guy for being a horrible leader, and you interrupt me. You did a lousy job ... and you keep interrupting me and stopping me from doing it. And in the end, what Carolyn said is true.”
What Carolyn said was that Summer was useless during the task, which involved selling upgraded memberships to existing Sam’s Club members. Summer was charged with calling restaurant owners to pitch the membership upgrade, but she made one phone call and then gave up. Even though her logic made sense — as a restaurant owner herself, she knew that interrupting restaurant managers during the dinner rush wouldn’t be successful — it was immediately apparent even to her that this would look bad. She even expected to be selected by her project manager as one of the candidates vulnerable for firing.
Nothing to say for herselfYet in the boardroom, she had no explanation for her lack of performance. She had to know that she’d be held accountable for her actions, but she wasn’t even able to explain her efforts.
“What I contributed to this team were not things everybody could see,” she said, and of course Trump didn’t buy that lame excuse for a second. “Give me a break,” he said.
Carolyn didn’t give up, demanding to know what Summer did during the task. “What did you contribute to this team? It’s the third time I asked,” she said, clearly exasperated. Summer had no substantive answer.
Carolyn was also appalled by Gold Rush corporation’s marketing strategy when she visited Sam’s Club. She asked project manager Tarek to see the gift bag, and when he handed her an empty, cheap-looking tote bag with the store’s logo on it, she said, “Oh, the gift bag is physically a bag.” That’s right: The gift bag had no contents, and the team was giving them out regardless of whether or not people signed up for upgraded memberships.
Lee was the one person on the team to point out that their plan was a joke and that they had no vision, something which has only plagued “Apprentice” teams since, oh, the very first season.
That criticism didn’t exactly endear Lee to his project manager, though. With the camera hovering nearby, Tarek threatened him, but in a collegial, “please don’t force me to hit you” sort of way. “I’m committed to not bringing you into the boardroom,” Tarek told Lee. “I’m just going to need you to stand by me in front of Trump. I just warn you, if you bring up to Trump anything that you would have changed or done differently, you are immediately going to set yourself up as a target.”
Lee, thankfully, ignored the friendly advice of his good buddy Tarek, and when Trump asked him directly about Tarek’s leadership, Lee didn’t hold back, and Tarek made good on his promise, hauling Lee back into the boardroom to possibly be fired.
Earlier, Tarek told us, “Being in Mensa, the one thing that it allows me to do is think on my feet very quickly. And I think when you’re blessed with the ability to think quickly and think on your feet, that is going to separate you from the pack.”
He put that insulting description of intelligence to use in the boardroom, going with the say-one-thing, then-contradict-yourself strategy of argument. “As project leader, I take responsibility for this loss,” he said, and Trump beamed. Then Tarek blamed his team for the loss, and said his leadership was flawless: “But it’s important to note that we lost not because of a lack of leadership, we lost because two people on this team did not step up and execute on the task to which they were assigned.”
Zip it! Zip! ZIP!This petty backstabbing didn’t work, just as it usually does not; of the three people Tarek brought into the boardroom — Summer, Lenny, and Lee — only Summer deserved to be there. That brought Trump’s attention right back to Tarek, where it would have stayed had Summer not interrupted. For someone who brags about his bountiful intelligence, Tarek failed to demonstrate any “Apprentice” street smarts.
The only person who seemed to understand how the game is played is Lenny, the man Trump twice obnoxiously referred to as “the Russian.” Lenny was born in the former USSR, served in the Soviet Army, and “built himself up from a janitor to the eventual owner of his own Russian restaurant,” according to his bio. Later, he “became a stockbroker” and “now operates his own medical trading company,” and applied for the show only because his son is a fan of the show and convinced him to apply. If his son briefed him on what to expect, it would not be at all surprising.
Before the boardroom, Lenny gave Summer a pep talk that, at the time, sounded condescending. “When we go into the boardroom I want you to be quiet. Please. All right? Don’t bring anything up. All right? Just be quiet. We heard you already. We kick asses. We’ll be fine,” he said.
As it turned out, Summer’s inability to read a situation or know what to expect with Trump made Lenny’s lecture completely justified. Lenny knew that Summer’s tendency to talk for no reason wouldn’t go over well with Trump, and that she could potentially prevent Tarek — the bigger threat to Lenny — from being fired.
But she didn’t follow Lenny's advice, and took the fall. As Tarek left the boardroom, Trump reminded him that he was safe only because her stupidity outweighed his. “She saved your ass with her own stupidity,” he said. “She saved your ass.”
That might be a line viewers hear from Trump often, because based upon their performance during the first task, stupidity isn’t in short supply.