Image Credit: Virginia Sherwood/NBCIt’s Week 3 of The Apprentice – and I am happy to be back in the boardroom, watching the contestants duke it out on this week’s task! As each week progresses, the stakes are getting higher, and we’re seeing more passion from everyone – which means we are definitely going to see some great television. My father’s key piece of advice has always been to be passionate about what you do and I think that the contestants are beginning to realize that they have to put their hearts and souls into every task. Speaking of which, one of the most successful people in America – Jack Welch – met with Poppy, the winner of last week’s task Let’s see how it went….

An Outstanding Reward

Poppy was extremely enthusiastic about meeting Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric. She knew that meeting one of the most influential businessmen in the United States was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, calling it an “outstanding reward.” After their meeting, Jack was obviously impressed with her leadership and enthusiasm, offering her an additional reward – complimentary classes at his online business school. I’m sure that they will help Poppy in building a promising career.

It’s a Dog’s World

The assignment this week was a little out of the ordinary for The Apprentice. It’s enough for our contestants to deal with each other, but add some animals in the mix and it’s a recipe for high stress and conflict!

This week’s task was to run a hotel & spa for dogs. In New York City, pet spas and hotels are a lucrative business – New Yorkers are so busy that they are willing to pay for many services that people would normally do themselves, so these spas are quite in demand.

Don delivered the parameters that the task would be judged on – execution of responsibilities, creativity in devising a “value add,” sustainability of that value add, and overall experience. To add more pressure, the country’s top canine expert, Cesar Millan, the famed “dog whisperer,” would visit the two teams’ spa/hotels and provide his expert opinion.

James was chosen as Octane’s project manager and Tyana headed up the Fortitude team. Both had been controversial during the past two tasks, so the proverbial fur was sure to fly!

Like Nails on a Chalkboard

It was clear from the very beginning of the task that David’s agenda was to get James fired. After last week’s boardroom, we knew two things – David had it in for James and David’s temper was going to boil over. They started off the task without any sense of civility or respect for one another; the dynamic was terrible from the beginning. David rolled his eyes at everything James said, and James wouldn’t allow David to ask questions. I found it unprofessional on both sides. Things came to a head when David tried to make nails out of binder clips and James benched him for the rest of the task, which in my opinion was David’s ultimate goal. That was James’ first fatal error. David said he was looking forward to the boardroom, and I am sure that he was eager to throw James under the bus.

Fatal Error #2 was James’ inability to reprioritize. It was shocking to me that he asked the owner of the spa to wait for him to finish the meeting he was in prior to conferring with them. Not to mention disrespectful, it was a waste of the spa owner’s time, as well as a waste of a terrific resource.

Not a Banner Day

After seeing Mahsa and Tyana unify against Nicole in the first episode – I was surprised to see them argue as vehemently as they did regarding who would take the receptionist position. After singing each other’s praises in the past two episodes, their claws really came out! Perhaps Mahsa was trying to throw the attention off of herself and her fear of dogs by calling Tyana a weak leader. Interesting tactic.

Liza was another target on the women’s team. After last week’s outbursts after the boardroom, when she repeatedly attacked Poppy, it was evident that she had a temper. This week, the team thought that her overly emotional reactions and slow work pace made her weak, inefficient and ineffective. I have to say, it shouldn’t have taken her all day to create the spa banners. If she was on my team, I too would have been annoyed.

The Dog Whisperer

The “value adds” were a big part of the task. I thought that Fortitude was very smart to come up with Tail Wag Tuesdays when they discovered Tuesdays are typically the slowest day for dog spas. Their value add program included the usual services plus a photo of the dog with a report card on back. In my opinion, this was a good way to remind an owner of the personal care that they received at the spa. Cesar Millan was impressed, and truly liked the photo/report card idea. He also liked the team’s overall energy and team effort. Well done, Fortitude.

Cesar also liked Octane’s video camera concept. He felt the men’s team made the entire dog spa experience feel very personal, and thought that it would make an owner “feel part of the event.” He thought that this would be a great way to bring in many pet owners. When it came down to his critique of the team, however, he noticed that there were too many leaders in one pack. Is it me or is being an alpha dog (pun intended) a typical male problem?

The Boardroom

Fortitude may have had some personal problems to deal with at the beginning of the episode, but they really kept it together for this task. Liza was the weak link, but in terms of the overall task, Fortitude was a clear winner and it was nice to see them win as a team. As a reward for bringing everyone together and executing well, lucky Tyana gets to meet with Russell Simmons, the most well respected hip-hop mogul in the country and the creator of the world famous Def Jam and Phat Farm companies. Russell is a fantastic person and a great mentor – he illustrated this when he wrote a great segment titled “On Giving” in my book, The Trump Card. His viewpoint, as he wrote in my book, is that every young person should start their career from a place of strength – a good motto in these tough times. His advice is priceless and I am sure that Tyana will learn a lot from him.

Fire #3

Octane’s loss was not predictable – but who was brought to the boardroom was. Although David has a propensity toward immaturity as he constantly rolls his eyes and smirks, James as Project Manager was in the hot seat. As I mentioned before, James made two fatal errors – he shut David down (not giving him the opportunity to mess up for himself) and he was disrespectful to the owner of the spa. Wasting someone’s time, especially when that someone is the client, is not acceptable in any situation. In addition to David, James received negative feedback from all of his team members, making Don question whether his “air of elitism” was not to blame. In the end, David’s temper was unnecessary, but James was truly alienating to everyone, including the spa owner. James was fired but I am sure that he’ll do well under different circumstances. I wish him the best.

Enjoy your weekend, and I look forward to seeing you in the Boardroom next week!

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