September 17, 2004

What Bradford should have said on "The Apprentice" last night.

My resistence to the cultural vortex that is "The Apprentice" is truly pathetic, because I watched last night's episode (on TiVo) even though I came home late from a dinner, the episode itself was bizarrely long (100 minutes), and my 15-year-old TV is entirely bereft of the color red (see previous post). The episode had been promoted as "The Most Shocking Boardroom Scene Ever" or some such thing, but what that really turned out to mean was that the entire competition out on the street selling ice cream had little if anything to do with deciding which contestant to fire. (Why do we love these pick the loser shows like "American Idol," "Survivor," "The Amazing Race," and so forth? Is the process of elimination, the Last Man Standing, really so compelling? Apparently, yes.)

The assigned competition last night was rather boring. Like last season's selling lemonade, the episode entailed a lot of obvious street-corner-picking and getting lost. Getting lost was especially dumb last night, given the self-explanatory grid pattern of midtown New York. Admittedly, the placement of Broadway provides a minor challenge and they managed to get confused, despite the "180 IQ" of all the contestants--according to the not entirely reliable Donald Trump. The real competition on the show is in the boardroom, and the loser last night was a guy who did the gutsy, cocky thing of saying he was willing to give up his immunity. Bradford was the only person with immunity, and I think he was doing something that normally wins respect on the show: stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility for your actions. Trump went wild and couldn't stop saying how stupid it was, and "had to fire him" because of that. I think Trump was testing Bradford and giving him a chance to explain his sacrifice of immunity as a great strategy.

Where Bradford went wrong was not in sacrificing his immunity, but in conceding, repeatedly, that it was indeed a stupid thing to do. Bradford should have said, "Mr. Trump, I do not like sitting back, resting on the immunity I was fortunate enough to receive for my strong play last week. I am so confident about my work for the team this week, in a week when I could have simply taken it easy, that I want to be judged along with the rest of my teammates. I'm here for the long haul, and I want you to see that I don't just take advantage of a chance to slough off. I want you to see that my work is always at the top level, and I am so certain that I am one of the best players, that I am throwing my immunity aside as a way to make a very strong statement that I am one of the best." Had he said something like this, he would not have lost.

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