In episode six of season two of Donald Trump's NBC reality TV show "The Apprentice," it was down to 13 players, and we finally saw the women of Apex break their 0-for-4 losing streak in brilliant fashion. The men of Mosaic, led by the artistic but passive John, became runway road kill when the Marialed Apex team beat them handily in the create-an-overnight-fashion-line contest. Project Team leader John got the Trump-A-Dump for his inability to keep his eye on the ball and for his boardroom choices. The multi-talented but error-prone John heard "You're fired!" for his self-induced poor judgment mistakes.
And, we learn of yet another business run by The Donald: Trump Model Management. This, of course, is the eye candy crown jewel in his empire (it is worth noting Mr. Trump met both ex-wife Ivana and current fiancee Melania on the runway). True Trumpologists know the model agency is only a tiny part of Trumpland financially, but his agency best evokes a big Trump theme - sex sells. Unfortunately, it also disrupts, as we saw with the testosterone tormented men of Mosaic. While making a women's clothing line is fascinating, we have learned that the real corporate action, and ultimate lessons learned, happen in the boardroom, which is now the show's focus.
The team challenge was to create a women's fashion line for the Avon Fall Fashion Show at New York's upper-upper-class St. Regis Hotel. The winner would be the team selling the highest dollar amount to the buyers who came to the show. In classic rag-trade style, each team picked their own designer, fabrics, and styles to be turned into prototypes and slapped on Trump models that trotted them down the runway.
Both John's Mosaic team and Maria's Apex team met with store buyers to gauge their interests. But from the first moments, the fashion-savvy women of Apex had a huge advantage. The men, on the other hand, got marooned on Fashion Island and never found their way back. In the world of fitting, fabrics, and fussy fashion buyers, the men were foundering and feckless, and their team leader John paid the ultimate price by not knowing the ultimate prices.
By the time the contest reached the runway, it was all over. The women's line was more confidently mainstream and less high fashion than the men's. The men's line was overly eccentric, using wild upholstery fabrics and sporting wacky features such as a dress leash for keeping your long train from dragging on the ground. As a result, the Trump models who showed the Apex line were more relaxed and self-assured - a factor that clearly played to the buyers' sense that the Apex clothes would sell better. And at the cash register, Apex's superiority was vivid. The women outsold the men 3-to-1. The final tally was Apex $22,060 and Mosaic $7,735. The Apex team was treated to a champagne party with performers from Cirque du Soleil. And in the boardroom, John got a one-way elevator ride for delegating pricing to Kevin and Wes, who priced the line too high.
LESSON ONE Sex sells, but beware its power to distract. While the women of Apex used their models appropriately - treating them like living mannequins, the men of Mosaic ogled the models like goofball adolescents. Mosaic allowed the models' unabashed sex appeal to divert their attention from the tasks at hand.
LESSON TWO When you have a short deadline, design your team for efficient decision-making. Apex team leader Maria, realized quickly that overly-analytical team member Elizabeth would slow down the process. Therefore, she sent Elizabeth on a wild goose chase while Maria rapidly made all the real decisions herself. Wise move. Apex's fast decisions made for a swift victory.
LESSON THREE Never delegate the most important decision, or at least, don't take your own eyes away from it. Mosaic's leader John left the key component of the task, pricing, in the hands of Kevin and Wes. He didn't just delegate the task, he actually disappeared from it and the unreasonably high price of the clothing was the reason for their dismal failure. If they were cheaper, Mosaic's quirky products may have rung buyers' bells, but the price took them out of the running, creating a disastrous and humiliating loss.
In the next episode of "The Apprentice," we anticipate a major team reshuffle.
Expect Mr. Trump to follow the recommendations of his hench people George the Grandfather-From-Hell and Carolyn the Ice Queen. Stay tuned.