December 16, 2005

A TiVo-assisted retrospective on the last 3 minutes of last night's "Apprentice."

When Randal hears he's hired, he stands up, smiling, and we see all the other players reacting. Alla is overjoyed and demonstrative, shimmying up to Randal to embrace him as he ambles over for a group hug. Trump, over at the boardroom table, is yelling, "Randal, Randal, hey, Randal, Randal, Randal, sit down for a second, I wanna ask your opinion." Trump presents the question: "If you were me, would you hire Rebecca also?"

Then we see Randal, smiling, looking down and thinking. Behind him, we see the players. Felicia is mouthing "no," and sweet Adam is clapping with pleasure. Markus is unmoved. Alla is shaking her head in a big no. Randal makes his hard statement that the show is called "The Apprentice," not "The Apprenti," so there must be only one. Is that uncreative or just greedy?

Felicia nods her big approval. Jenthura looks happy. Markus pouts. Adam folds his hands in his lap and purses his lips. Marshawn bows her head glumly.

Trump smirks and says "Okay, I'll leave it at that then. I think I could have been convinced, but you feel that's the way it should be. I'm gonna leave it that way. Congratulations." Rebecca, who's been smiling calmly, now shakes her head, mouths a word ("bad"?), and then nods. We overhear a technical person say "That's a floor spin," and the thumping closing music starts. Randal gets up and walks over to the audience triumphantly. Most of the people are conspicuously not giving him a standing ovation. We can hear Trump say "Did you like that?"

I think it's safe to say that Trump did not like that. I'd say he structured the ending feeling sure Randal would reach out to Rebecca, and it would be a surprising, heartwarming ending for the man with a dead grandma and the girl on crutches. Instead, the series ended with a sickening thud, and the newly chosen Apprentice -- whose job is basically P.R. for the Trump organization -- begins his reign with a P.R. disaster.

IN THE COMMENTS: My son Chris writes: "Mom: We do not hear a technical person say 'That's a floor spin.' We hear Rebecca say 'That's unfortunate.' It is unfortunate...
that you got that wrong."

AND: There are a lot of good comments here and in the earlier post on the final episode, here, including my own complaint about the way that Randal was always praised and not criticized for spending his young years pursuing 5 academic degree. And what was his multi-million dollar "consulting business"?


SAMPLES said...

What's so disastrous about a decision that gets people talking--doesn't that epitomize P.R.?

Paul said...

I disagree completely. First, I was amazed Trump even asked Randall for his opinion instead of just going ahead and hiring Rebecca anyway, if that's what he really wanted. But Randall fought hard to win this one job being offered, and he prevailed. I think the win was all his and the night was all his. He didn't fight so hard all these weeks just to gain a tie, but to win. Trump never should have asked Randall to willingly share his victory with the person he had just bested.

Ann Althouse said...

Paul: If you like him so much, spell his name right, that is, wrong.

tiggeril said...

Spelling nitpicks aside, I agree with Paul's assessment.

PWS said...

It's true a guy like Donald Trump can make up his own mind, but he was asking for Randal's opinion. It was kind of like Randal's first assignment and though I concur in Ann's judgment I write separately. Randal should have offered a more reasoned opinion. Viewers would accept a more persuasive, thought out answer even if it meant denying Rebecca. In other words, there were two motifs Randal could have tapped into: 1) the happy ending, Rebecca really deserves it too OR 2) Randal played by the rules and deserves it all to himself. Viewers received neither. That's bad PR. (P.S. For what it's worth I don't watch the show but drift in and out when my wife has it on.)

tiggeril said...

I think it's easy to come up with an eloquent response when there's been a few hours to think about it. In this case, though, he was in hyper-competitive mode, celebrating his win, and then got smacked with Trump's question. I wouldn't have been nearly as polite as Randal was in that instance.

SteveR said...

I heard Randal on Imus this morning and he stuck by his decision. Two justification: 1) if you won a gold medal at the Olympics would you want to share it with the second place finishner and 2) Trump didn't chose to hire both Kwame and Bill in the first season ("both very qualified")so he didn't need to now. I don't agree with either under the circumstances of last night.

Imus tried to make him feel bad but not very hard, people don't seem very willing to criticize him, in person anyway.

Harkonnendog said...

I gained a lot of respect for Randal when he made that decision. Before that I thought he was maybe an ass-kisser. Nope.

Way to go Randal!

Charles said...

If Trump is as bad as he wants to make out, if Randal said yes - while heart warming - Trump should have hired her, and fired him. Making a no losers or a double winner would have been a sign of weakness that Trump should have immediately crushed. Only room for one at the top is what the show is supposed to be about - be the best and get the reward. Maybe next year the winner can be all warm and fuzzy on the last test - being the winner and showing mercy - by hiring the second placer as a personal assistant gopher. Then Trump could show it as keeping your friends close and your enemies closer.

Paul said...

Sorry, Ann. I thought I was spelling it right - but the real right way looks wrong to me. I wasn't paying attention to his name. :-(

Kurt said...

samples makes a good point--this certainly did get people talking.

Nevertheless, I think Ann's reading of the last 3 minutes of the show is pretty sound. Trump's greatest talent is self-promotion, and this job and this show are both PR for the Trump organization. I'm sure Trump wanted to see the show end on a high note, and the only reason he would have quieted Randal's celebration and called him back to the table is that he clearly wanted to hire Rebecca, as well.

The moment when he asked Randall to sit down again reminded me of the moment two weeks ago when he told Alla to sit down and then told her she was fired, also. But here, he was clearly expecting Randal to be the good-natured, likeable fellow everyone took him for all season; instead, what he got was Randal the competitor. And so he didn't hire Rebecca, and the show ended with a thud (or perhaps I should say, with a whimper).

EddieP said...

Thud is an apt word for the conclusion to the show. Randal was the Apprentice, Rebecca wasn't going to share in that title. Trump had just conducted a 13 week job interview and discovered he had two very qualified people and he had positions for each. He threw Randal a softball and Randal fouled it out of the park. Trump will never forget what a small, mean, man he'd just hired. Expressing no remorse on Imus just confirms it.

Harkonnendog said...

Like Trump can't hire her today, or 5 minutes after the broadcast, lol. Randal even said he thought it would be inappropriate to do it that night, implying it would not be inappopriate later.

And he's right. Anyway, Rebecca was no more qualified than Alla... so if it about hiring all the qualified people he should have brought Alla and three or four other people to the table.

And Randal didn't say that, but it would not surprise me if that wasn't part of his reasoning.

As for making Trump look good or bad- his bowing to Randal's request was awesome- gracious, fair, classy, everything Trump too often is not.

C. Schweitzer said...

Randal completely misread that moment in a way that guarantees that he'll be remembered by many as one of the assiest asses ever on a reality show.

Trump JUST got done saying that this wasn't just a game to him--that it was his company and its future. Randal has tin ears. If he didn't know a double-hire of sorts was in the offing he might also be the dumbest assiest asses ever on a reality show--people at TWOP and elsewhere have been seeing the signs for weeks. He had time to think about the possibility.

All his BS answers aside--ego is what's driving his behavior. This was not a race for a gold medal or Survivor where only one person gets one million. It's a job. To get my current teaching job, I went through a few rounds of interviews--at the end--they choose two rather than one. Two good teachers--instead of just one. That didn't take away from my achievement--it just made the college better.

If he would have said yes to Trump:

a) he would have done something the boss *clearly* wanted, thus earning him some goodwill in his new position

b) people working with him would trust him more because he seems magnanimous and willing to share the spotlight

c) he would have left the stage with an image of a guy that is BOTH competent and decent--some people can't buy a reputation like that

d) the half of America rooting for Rebecca would have a warm fuzzy feeling for him (and look what warm fuzzy feelings have done to bolster the career of ex-Apprentice candidate Troy as opposed to the career of, say, Tana)

e) lost nothing

By saying no:

a) he put his own ago ahead of what his boss clearly wanted and embarassed him on national TV--not a great first day on the job

b) he made people that will work with him at Trump Org. on the defensive: he now looks like that assy boss we've all had that takes credit for underling's work and perceives others' good work as a threat to him

c) he left the stage with probably 75% to 85% of the viewers either hating him or thinking him a dumbass

d) the half of America rooting for Rebecca now hate him with fire of a thousand suns

e) has now made that debacle this story of the story--not his hiring or that a reality show finally had a black candidate who didn't turn out to be a psycho--and yes, there is such a thing as bad publicity--just ask Yahoo, at least two executives of which probably would have advised Randall to be more charitable.

One last thing: isn't it ironic that their last tasks involved charity and Randal shows none of his own.

Romi said...

IMO, Trump asked Randal to make his first decision as a member of the Trump team, and Randal blew it. It wasn't a question of there being two winners; Randal was clearly the winner. Trump thought Rebecca was a star, as well. He thought she'd be a great addition to the Trump team. He had just finished saying that this was a game to others, but not to him; that he had built his empire by surrounding himself with great people. He wanted both, but he didn't want to take anything away from Randal by saying "you're both hired." He gave Randal the opportunity to be gracious in victory and be instrumental in the hiring of a talented person. It was a very respectful way to do it. Thud. Instead, Randal showed that he is not a team player, but rather a very small and petty man. He was not able to put his team before himself. Not a very positive start in Trump's organization.

Chris O'Brien said...

Purely anecdotal, but I work in a large office with people of diverse educations, backgrounds and outlooks. Everyone of about the 20 or so in the Friday Morning Apprentice Water Cooler Crowd went from being a fan of Randal's to thinking he was a 1st class a-hole.

It was not a zero sum game.

2 jobs. 2 people.

Who heard the words "You're hired?" Randal. He won!

Yayyy Randal!

He was then given his 1st duty - "Randal -advise me on hiring Rebecca for what is a SECOND, SEPARATE job."

He does not say she is unqualified. Nope. When asked why she should not be hired for the OTHER SEPARATE job, his MIT/Oxford educated cerebrum comes up with:(drumroll please)

"Well..that's not the name of the show. Ergo, she should not have a job also. Not Apprentii, you's Latin..I learned that at Rhodes Scholar School."

He body slams her. That was the 'thud'. So..Why? What would he have lost by saying yes? I have read the opinions of a lot of smart people here and I havn't seen that explained.

ConnecticutCranky said...

Randal made the right decision, and Trump was out of line in suggesting an equal reward for Rebecca. To have given a job to Rebecca violates the spirit of the competition, which has an ax falling on the neck of the losing gladiator -- one of the key dramatic elements of this circus. Trump violated the spirit of his own character in the show -- the merciless boss/executioner, one of the three Fates of the boardroom. When he went all soft and gooey, he let the mask slip. That's bad acting, at least for a melodrama like this. We've been watching the ax fall on one neck after another, and now Trump wants to stop the bloodletting? Thumbs down!! Mercy is for losers! It's a tough world out there and we watch The Apprentice to steel ourselves to it.

And look at the situation Trump placed Randal in: He makes Randal look like the mean guy because Randal justifiably wants the reward of being the sole apprentice -- the reward he just spent 13 weeks sweating and sacrificing for.

As winner, Randal doesn't need to please Trump in all things. He just needs to keep the job for a year or so to get the full reward, at least in a public-relations sense. Trump's not going to screw Randal over because of the winner's victory-night decision, if only because the full public-relations value of the show benefits from Randal not complaining about how he was treated after he won the job. Randal has his own leverage now.

And wasn't Trump the one questioning whether or not Randal was "tough enough" for the Trump organization? I guess Randal just showed he was.

clutterkeeper said...

How could Randal miss the hints Trump was dropping? They were about as subtle as the marketing messages cloaked as assignments used all season (No criticism, just the obvious). Seems the Donald misread his newest hire.

Kurt said...

Yes ConnecticutCranky, I would agree that the Apprentice is in some ways a morality play, but it's one in which, every week, virtue is rewarded and vice punished. One of the reasons it's fun to watch is that it's satisfying to see the undesirable characters get booted from the show each week. Who wasn't glad to see the arrogant Toral go or the dull and ineffective Markus?

Rebecca had no obvious vices, and the fact is that although her event was not much of a fundraiser, in many respects, it was a more successful, impressive and professional event than Randal's was. (Sure, Randal raised money, but as fundraisers go, it came off as rather amateurish.)

Until last night, Randal had seemed to be gracious and intelligent and very likeable. Now he seems much less so.

Tim Sisk said...
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Tim Sisk said...

I'll have to chip in that I agree with C. Schweitzer's comment. I'd like the Randal defenders to address C. Schweitzer's comments directly. They not only seem sound, they happen to agree with my thinking!

The only thing I would add is that the Apprentice isn't a reality/competition show like other Survivor, or the Great Race. It is a competition to be employed by Trump. That's why what you and I think about Trump putting Randal in that position doesn't matter. The prize is Trump, so what Trump thinks and hints that he wants to do should be picked up big time by the winner.

That's why the whole "gold medal stand" at the Olympics isn't shared is such a bogus defense. It also happens to not be true, there have been shared medals in Olympic history.

And this point hasn't been made strongly enough: Trump didn't ask Randal to share the Apprentice title. He said, "Do you think I should hire Rebecca to be part of our organization tonight?" And Randal not only was ungracious(no she didn't win) and egotistical (no I'm the one!) but put himself above the organization (tonight is about me, I'm not going to let you make a good hire on this night, my night).

I should, however, add that I wasn't a big Randal fan all season (y'all jumped on me pretty good for saying such earlier in the season.) The one I though well of for a while was Alla, and boy was I wrong about her.

And I too want to know what George was going to say about Randal's wins...too bad he got cut off.

I'm going to say Randal deserved to win, although I think the mistakes he made during the season were bigger than a lot of people admitted (wrong time on the movie poster, Star Wars non-help, no rain plan, at times too passive). But Trump couldn't have not-hired Randal. He's too good to pass up. And I think Ann is right, Randal should have been challenged a bit more on his degrees. I wonder about a person that just stays in..

Christopher Althouse said...

Mom: We do not hear a technical person say "That's a floor spin." We hear Rebecca say "That's unfortunate." It is unfortunate...that you got that wrong.

Romi said...

Oh, cranky one from Connecticut: how is wanting to hire a talented person being soft and gooey? Is it so difficult to believe tht Trump would want to hire this enormously talented 23 year old and train her to take over the world in the next few years? :) You are, in essence, saying that Rebecca is not qualified for a job in Trump's organization and he was feeling sorry for her. I think not. Trump is a businessman. He does what will further his aim: making money.

C. Schweitzer said...

I also think Rebecca's event was far, far superior to Randal's in every way. It looked awesome and fun as Hell (lighted purple ice-cubes and stand-up comedy vs. standing in a locker room bidding on crap?). Randal's event looked amateurish and boring to the extreme.

As to the "fundraising elements"--a lot has been made of the $11,000 raised for Autism Speaks. Did you see all the wealthy stars at that thing and they couldn't be squeezed for more? $11,000? Sheesh, I think any reasonably competent organizer could have done better.

Rebecca was downright shot down as overt fundraising goes--so much so that Yahoo was "caught" and embarassed enough on national TV and forced to pay BOTH charities $50,000. And we never did fund out how many people sent in donations after the Yahoo event.

I didn't see the brilliance of Randal that everyone else apparently saw. I am also rather skeptical of people with THAT many educational credentials (speaking as a person who is herself dangerously overeducated). "Scholars" that rack up titles tend to be hopeless self-promoters and go at certain kinds of "games" that don't often equate with business success.

I love education and believe in it (I'm a teacher for the love of Pete) but there's always a sense with people that have THAT much of an educational resume that there's no "there" there.

badger87 said...

I too want to know what George had to say about the "records".

Rebecca missed an oppurtunity to punture Randal's education bubble. If you look at Rebecca's bio on "The Apprentice" website and her own site she worked as an investment banker structuring mergers and acquisitions prior to her current job.

I would have said "when Randal was my age he was busy accumulating his 5 degrees, I on the other got my education and immediately put it to work in the real world as an investment banker"

What will Randal gain from this? Does he want to be a long term member of the Trump organization? I am guessing no. If he doesn't, what harm is he causing to his real business, BCT Partners? He is the President and CEO and one of the founding members.

BJK said...

Wow...lots of interesting perspectives to respond to.

Personally, I think that Randal's failure to pick up the message that Trump was obviously feeding them highlights his biggest failing in the competition: creativity. He really offered up nothing in the XM task, and actually hurt things by fouling up the picture/channel # details. The Star Wars task was practically his - as, unbelievably enough, he was the only one on his team who knew the movies - and they lost because Randal didn't have nearly the scope of concept as Alla/Clay did.

Rebecca obviously caught on to the dual-hire: her choice of "The New Jersey Project" (I can knock my preferred candidate....they were both in Jersey!) This in turn raises an interesting question:
If Rebecca had been asked to choose a job first - and had picked Atlantic City - do you think Randal would have held to his choice?

I think Randal's rationalization of the non-hire decision also shows his difficulty thinking creatively. He didn't think people could look past the end result to recognize that he 'won' ... because he himself wasn't capable of it. Trump hired Randal; if he hires someone else after that, the other person still finished second. It's not sharing the gold's sharing the medal stand with the silver medalist.

Also, since someone made the gladiator analogy, if the emperor offers thumbs up to the loser, they survive. Randal stuck the sword in her back, choosing to ignore the rules of the colosseum -- that's why the crowd turned on him.

(Count me among the people who wanted to hear George talk about their respective records as PM.)

Master said...
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