Is this the Apprentice you really want?

anticipating the turkey
Creative Commons License photo credit: theilr

Trump surely came to a fork in the road during last night’s final episode of The Celebrity Apprentice.

A Morton’s fork to be exact. A Morton’s Fork is a situation where you have no good choices – but you have to make one anyway.

I don’t do much reality TV, but I do use the DVR to record the shows that contain instructive moments that I can pass along here, in the print newsletter and elsewhere.

The Apprentice and The Celebrity Apprentice are two such shows. In every episode there is at least one useful observation that can be made, so there is almost always value enough to sacrifice 40 minutes of your life (assuming that you fast forward through the commercials on your DVR).

Not your normal Apprentice

This season has been painful to watch, even on the DVR.

The sometimes-ugly, always vocal victimhood dynamics of Joan Rivers and her daughter Melissa vs. some members of the rest of the team combined with the feisty gamesmanship that Annie Duke displayed were an interesting combination. Include the alcoholic situation with Rodman and the surprisingly spineless Jesse James (both of whom have a lot more under the hood – but failed to show it) and you end up with more entertainment than education.

Frankly, it started to approach the level of the intentional drama that other reality shows create and move away as a source of takeaways for business owners. I know that isn’t the reason for the show, but it’s why I even bother to watch it.

However there was a gem that paid off all season long and it should have been obvious:

This season was a lesson in leadership (or the lack thereof).

Here’s just a sample of the things that project leaders had to deal with:

  • Diversity. Dennis Rodman and Jesse James in the same room with Joan Rivers? Perfect.
  • Substance abuse issues? Yep.
  • Sexual harassment? You know who I’m talking about.
  • Stubborn, my way or the highway employees and leadership? Yep, we had that.
  • Staffers who will do anything to make themselves look good while positioning themselves to avoid taking any blame if it goes wrong? Yep, we had that.
  • Take my ball and go home types? Absolutely.
  • Passive aggressive types? Definitely

Annie get your gun

I will say this: If I have to send someone else into a room where only one will come out alive (business-wise), Annie Duke would be on the short list on one condition: If and only if I don’t ever have any concerns about the present or future consequences of her actions in that room.

No question she is a very sharp cookie.  But that isn’t enough.

In her closing remarks, her points were right on: She raised the most money. She won the most challenges. She won the most as a project leader.

She clearly is one of the best game players (duh) the Apprentice has ever seen.

But would you trust her with your back turned? Something in the back of my mind says no and that alone is enough to get counted out in my book if I’m choosing someone to represent me.

Cry me a Rivers

As for Joan, she displayed amazing tenacity. I seriously doubt anyone expected the 75 year old comedienne to make it to the final.

However, her outbursts – including that Hitler thing – were simply unacceptable. Duke nailed it in the final discussion when she more or less accused Trump of allowing behavior (from both Joan and Melissa Rivers) that would get you kicked out of any Fortune 500 business.

Problem is, she failed to note that she would’ve earned a pink slip as well for her behavior.

So NOW what?

I suspect this is where Trump found himself.

I found it a disappointing class to choose from from the outset and I wonder if that’s where he was as well.

Based on his long history of entrepreneurial business success elsewhere, I expected Jesse James to clean house.

Instead, it was as if he had a victim mentality during much of the show. He not only looked the part of the underdog, he lived it. I wonder if he really knew what he was getting into and just coasted until he was gone because it wasn’t his cup of tea.

Regardless of the reason, that was really disappointing.

If I’m Trump and I’m trying to choose between Rivers and Duke, I have to ask myself: who do I want to represent the Trump name?

Who do I want representing Trump in boardroom discussions?

Who in the room consistently exhibits the cool professionalism AND aggressiveness that is necessary to represent Trump’s business?

None of the above

For me, the answer is none of the above.

There’s not a single person in that boardroom who can hold a candle to previous (regular) Apprentice winners.

I guess The Donald just didn’t figure he could close out the show without naming a winner, which is probably for contractual reasons.

That’s a shame.

At least there were lots of teachable moments this season. If you cant train your lower management using the examples in this show, you’re missing something.

Evidence of the value of paying for a Trump

Donald Trump & Melania
photo credit: Boss Tweed

Earlier this week, we talked about small business events and the value of paying for someone like Donald Trump to show up at your event.

Case in point: http://www.arkansasbusiness.com/article.aspx?aid=105098.54928.117227

PS: Happy Mother’s Day!

Business owners: Do the math when putting on a promotional event

I ran across a couple of whining news stories recently that talked about paying celebrities like Paris Hilton or Donald Trump $10000 to $20000 to appear at a party or other event for 2 hours. In Trump’s case, it’s more like $250k per appearance, but it doesn’t really matter.

The news reporters don’t get the big picture because they aren’t looking at the economics. The bright shiny celebrities distract them from the business that is going on.

What Time Is It ??
photo credit: 708718

Let’s consider for a moment that you are having a small business seminar in Seattle, Dallas or Chicago. You plan to charge $3000 and you know for a fact that you are going to deliver far more value than that.

Your problem is this: demonstrating that you’re going to deliver $3000 worth of value.

Certainly you can do that, but look at what it might take to allow you to get Trump at your event – for free.

If his price is $250k, then you need to get an extra 83 people to show up at your event. In a city of 3-5 million people, are there 83 business owners, real estate people or entrepreneurs who would be interested in hearing Donald Trump speak, get a photo with him and have a brief word with him?

Sure there are. 83 people gets Trump at your business event for nothing out of your pocket.

People line up to pay $25k to have lunch with Warren Buffett every year. He donates that money to charity, but the concept is the same – and in fact, you could do this at your event with Trump (or whoever).

So when you read these celebrity stories (regardless of where they are – even in the WSJ), don’t gloss over them and think those people live in another world. Business-wise, they don’t. They are making hay while the sun shines. They know that you only need to get (for example) another 83 people there to pay their fee and they know what that does for you, your business and your event.

You simply have to do the math to make it easy to get someone like that for your promotional event.

What does this have to do with your small business? Lots.

Local businesses have promotional store events all the time. Anyone can do a live radio spot. Do the people in your market really want to talk to the DJ? Who in your market can you get at your store for a big event that will blow away your local market and position you as the only place to do business with?

For example, if you’re an attorney and you held a private event for your best clients, what would it cost you to get George Ross (Trump’s attorney) there? On the other hand, what positive can come of it? Be sure that you think that part through. Your guest needs to be strategic to your long term business goal, not just someone to ooh and ah over.

Think bigger and do the math to make amazing things happen when you hold a local promotional event.

PS: Don’t forget to record the event on digital video and put pieces of it (drip, drip, drip) out there on all the social media sites you use to promote and position your business (ie: Facebook, YouTube, and so on). Your event isn’t a one time thing. It should pay dividends for a long time.