Do scare tactics sell? Not in Trump Tower. But stun guns are plentiful.
The latest installment of The Apprentice started with the remaining job hopefuls agape at the news that Talky Stacy was fired instead of baby-faced Andy. They had little time to recover as Donald Trump greeted them the following morning via teleconference on his way to the Miss Universe pageant in Ecuador.
Their assignment: Team with Deutsch Advertising to create a recruitment campaign for the New York City Police Department. Donnie Deutsch advised the teams to create marketing materials nearly as light and fluffy as the Miss Universe pageant. The key to winning the task, he said, was to hit people in the heart.
Andy, Mosaic's project manager, and Elizabeth, Apex's leader, got it. But both had the misfortune of being confronted by their teams for having a different vision than the rest of the group. Mosaic was lobbying for more sex appeal than Andy's conservative ad campaign was willing to bare. Elizabeth was steamrollered into taking a military approach to recruitment.
Chaos ensued with Apex when Elizabeth couldn't make up her mind the next day. She had spent the night with Kevin trying to add a more emotional bent to the hard-edged "you don't have to be on the other side of the world to be on the frontline" campaign. When she continued to waffle just hours before the presentation, her team pressed her into decisive action.
Mosaic countered with a more heartfelt approach, asking, "When was the last time...?" When was the last time you saved a life? When was the last time you showed your true colors? Deutsch teared up and declared Mosaic the hands-down winner. So while Mosaic enjoyed their reward of being sent out to Times Square to see their ad run on the city's most prolific Jumbotron, Apex faced the boardroom firing squad.
When Elizabeth's wishy-washy leadership came under question, she pointed to Raj for playing up the military angle that Deutsch ultimately described as too intimidating for civilians.
In a first for the show, the meeting ended abruptly when after the team unanimously panned Elizabeth and faulted her indecision, Trump fired her on the spot.
Dayana: That, my friends, is an example of how Love Story morphs into Lethal Weapon by the time it gets to the box office. Trump is looking for a leader who stands by her convictions and has the ability to communicate and convince others of her vision.
The teams were given a clear directive, yet each wanted to turn it into the testosterone campaign. Kudos to Andy for standing firm. I bet his mother is just so proud of him.
Tim: Did you guys notice how in her taxicab confessional, Elizabeth admitted she was blindsided in the boardroom? Come on, Liz. All you had to do was say up front that the commercial wasn't your idea and that you compromised for the good of the team.
Rick: The way Elizabeth flipped and flopped, I'm sure she will be able to parlay this into an endorsement deal with IHOP (NYSE: IHP ) . I wonder whether she froze in front of the elevator on the way out, trying to decide which button to press.
Tim: Indeed, her incessant waffling was tiring. What a contrast to Raj. Not only did he come out and own responsibility for an idea that Trump and Donny Deutsch both hated, but he did so with pride, as if boldly going over a cliff is better than stopping short. Even more unbelievable is that Trump said he respected that. Wile E. Coyote, eat your heart out.
Rick: Elizabeth blew it because she really should have rolled with Kevin's emotional rewrite. Her firing is fitting because her inability to talk her team into going that way -- clearly a better way -- was exactly what cost her.
Dayana: All she had to do was remind the team of the long-standing Army recruitment campaign: "Be all that you can be." When N.W. Ayer was the Army's marketing machine, they designed ads around the themes of personal potential, educational opportunity, and patriotism. I don't recall seeing any "body bombs," as Raj suggested, in their recruitment materials.
Rick: I want to go trick-or-treating as Donald Trump this year. Anyone with me?
Tim: So, what, you'll don a comb-over toupee? Just be sure you practice Trump's signature cobra "you're fired!" before you head out for candy.
Dayana: All right, guys, what's it gonna be? Who has what it takes to win at this point? I'll do "an Elizabeth" and say it'll be Kelly. Or Kevin. Or Jen. Or Wes. Or...
Rick: With so many applicants for the show, was this really the pick of the litter? I can't believe that everyone but Elizabeth on Apex was fine with the "in your face" ad. I can't believe that everyone but Andy on Mosaic figured that the ad needed sex appeal. Unless they were trying to sabotage their campaigns and get their project managers canned -- a clever strategy, actually -- I guess that leaves Andy as the remaining sensible head.
Tim: I'm sticking to my take from last week. Now that Andy survived as leader I think he'll be among the final four. Clearly Trump likes decisiveness and leadership. But we have yet to see anyone come up with a big idea. Kevin got closest this week with his midnight soiree with Elizabeth. I'm not sure about the others but Kelly was impressive presenting for Mosaic. And Jen made Trump take notice by channeling Carolyn in skewering Elizabeth. You heard it here first, folks: Andy, Kevin, Kelly, Jen. That's your final four.
Until next week, suite dreams.