To lead off the fifth episode of The Apprentice, both teams met at a UPS (NYSE: UPS ) distribution warehouse. Would Raj have a brown bow tie for the event? Not quite. UPS is a huge company, as the parcel delivery specialist clocked in with $33.5 billion in revenue last year.
With no time to snap bubble wrap, Donald Trump explained that the next task for the teams would be to sell an item on Liberty Media's (NYSE: L ) QVC Network. QVC moved 100 million items last year -- thanks to UPS. Pamela was sent back to Apex to help even out the teams and was assigned to be the project manager, while Chris' name was drawn to lead Mosaic.
The teams had to choose a product to sell. They would then have 12 minutes to move as many as possible to the live QVC audience. Apex chose the It Works cleaning block sponge, while Mosaic went with a DeLonghi Panini grill.
The episode went to great lengths to emphasize the crucial aspect of pricing. Because the winning team was going to be decided based solely on the dollar amount of its total sales, it was important for each team to arrive at a price that would maximize sales without alienating potential customers.
Kelly and Raj argued over whether to price the grill above or below the $70 mark. Kelly prevailed, and the item hit the QVC soundstage priced at $71.25. Apex threw out a $19.99 figure before an assertive Pamela raised it to $27.23.
If you thought the Florida elections in 2000 were close, you wouldn't believe the photo finish this week. Apex sold 659 of the 31-piece sponge kits for a total of $17,944.57, while Mosaic moved 252 Panini makers for a grand total of $17,955. $10.43 was all that separated the men from the women, and Apex was sent to the boardroom, where a confident Pamela couldn't overcome her team's critique of her abrasive management style.
Out she went, while Mosaic went to Arthur Ashe Stadium to play tennis with former stars John McEnroe and Anna Kournikova.
Rick: Will I earn Carolyn's piercing glare if I say that she was wrong about the pricing on It Works? Pamela was right. Two pennies more wouldn't have turned a single buyer off and it would have given Apex the win. I don't think they would have moved 899 of them at $19.99. But what ultimately killed the team was the product it selected. How can you introduce a brand new item -- which means that you will miss out on the glowing testimonials that sealed the deal for the guys and their Panini grill? What's worse is that it was a product that took vital time off the clock just to demonstrate it. It Works? How ironic.
Tim: What really didn't work was Pamela's management style. I know that's going to get me in trouble with George but, really, how come she never once used the term "we" when referring to her team? It was all "they, they, them." And even George lampooned her "it was a tie" comment. News flash, Pam: You either win or you don't, and you've got to earn the respect of your team to win.
Rick: This was a coup for Liberty Media and QVC. Having both teams come back on in a few days to sell their products again live -- yes, Monday night at 10 p.m. Eastern -- that's beautiful. I think there will be a whole lot of people cleaning their DeLonghi nonstick grills with It Works sponges later this month.
Tim: Maybe they can use them to clean up the schlock The Donald laid on the tube at the opening? In his unbridled enthusiasm for QVC he mentioned that it's the largest electronic retailer. That's like calling UPS rival FedEx (NYSE: FDX ) one of the world's largest airlines. Hasn't Trump heard of the Internet? QVC may be big, but its $4 billion in sales is dwarfed by Amazon's (Nasdaq: AMZN ) $6 billion over the past year.
In last week's episode, Jennifer C. was fired, and because she made some disparaging remarks with racist overtones during the show, she was also fired from her real job. Was that fair?
Rick: I'm surprised that any of the applicants get to keep their old jobs. I mean, these are people going before a national audience because they want to "better deal" their careers by working for Trump! OK, so most of them are probably doing it for a shot at fame -- still. If I tried out for The Bachelor I don't think my wife would appreciate that too much. In fact, I think I would be a bachelor by the time she was done.
Tim: I'm surprised I'm even saying this, but Jen's former employer might not have got this one right. Were her comments on the show terrible? Absolutely. Was she a bad leader? No question. Did she deserve to get fired from The Apprentice? Don't let the door hit you in the back on the way out, Jen. But from what's been reported it seems she didn't even get a warning from the managers at the real estate firm where she worked. You know, something like: "That might work on TV, but don't even think about trying it here." That's the least they could have done before giving her the ax. Still, I'm not going to shed any tears for her.
By the way, couchmate Dayana Yochim didn't get fired after a boardroom brawl at Fool HQ. Nope, she's out on vacation. We'll let you know if her travels include any embarrassing taxicab confessionals when she returns next week. Until then, suite dreams.