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Monday October 31, 2005 8:24 pm

The Apprentice: Dick’s Sporting Goods


After seeing the end of this week’s episode, one has to wonder:  did Mark Burnett and Donald Trump consciously make a decision to shake things up a bit?  Or were they getting just as tired of this show as many of us are now and wanted it to end quickly?  Ironically, if all the episodes were as exciting as this one—more people would probably start watching again.

Disappointed in Capital Edge’s continual losses, Trump asks for a reshuffling of the teams.  As project leader for the women, Alla gives up Rebecca, Jennifer and Marshawn to the other team.  What—Marshawn?? What the heck has she ever done wrong? Did she call you out on something stupid?  In exchange, Capital Edge gained Adam, Clay and Markus from the Excel.

The focus of this week’s challenge would revolve around sporting goods.  The teams are told they would be working with Dick’s Sporting Goods to create an interactive event focusing on one particular sport. The goal of the task would be to generate the most revenue.  NOTE TO PROJECT MANAGERS:  Someone will inevitably forget what the goal of the task is. Repeat after me—sales revenue.

With no sports expertise amongst the candidates (what do book smarts know about sports?), Capital Edge elects golf as their sport of choice.  A potentially risky decision since Donald and Carolyn obviously know a lot about the sport and could end up laughing in their faces.  Focusing on fun, fashion and function, the team creates a large fairway with easy access to all the pertinent merchandise.  An area devoted to kiddie-putting allowed parents to shop while their children were distracted. Although she expressed concern over the team’s lack of knowledge, Carolyn acknowledged the team’s upbeat spirit.  That spirit coupled with aggressive sales techniques, gave Capital Edge an eventual sense of peace at the end of the day.

Excel—still riding high from their string of victories—went into this week’s task extremely confident.  Unlike their competitors, they also had someone on their team with a bit of sports knowledge.  James (who looks eerily like Clive Owen) had already proven after a previous team victory that he was a very confident baseball player.  Certain that his enthusiasm and knowledge for the sport would translate into team sales, James was assured that Excel would prevail.  NOTE TO CANDIDATES: Anytime you allow the words ‘sure thing’ to be a soundbite, your loss WILL be a sure thing.


Although they created an impressive backdrop, Excel’s large baseball diamond and batting cage forced the team to waiver from their original plan.  Merchandise that was supposed to surround the four sides of the baseball diamond was relegated to inconspicuous corners behind the massive field.  Despite the long lines of people waiting to enter the baseball sales area, Excel’s grand idea backfired on them.  Instead of focusing their day on sales, the team became wrapped up in the fundamentals of batting.  See??  I told you someone would forget!

Where was Jennifer who claimed that she would sell every radar gun placed in her hands?  Well, Miss All-Talk-And-No-Action was too busy eating pretzels while pushing hot dogs and lemonade.  How about that baseball guru, James?  Well, he was too busy teaching kids with no spending money how to swing (with the help of Mark, the pitcher).  As for Josh, the project manager? Well, he obviously wasn’t delegating the troops appropriately.

Needless to say, Josh’s team did not Excel in the boardroom. Not only did Alla’s team win the competition, but they did it by the largest margin ever.  Capital Edge boost department revenue by 74%, while Excel contributed to a sales decline of 34%. Ouch!  As Mark astutely put it—‘it was a huge ass kicking of exponential proportions’.  Excel had absolutely no excuse for the loss.  They had a large turnout, but just couldn’t convert the opportunities into sales.

Convinced that they were the major offenders, Trump specifically asked that Mark, Josh, Jennifer and James stay behind in the boardroom. Choosing the main person responsible for the team’s failure would prove hard since they all made costly errors.  So instead of wasting his time, Trump decided to make a clean slate and do away with all four of them.

Wow!  That was definitely a breath of fresh air.  Mark and Donald – do a little more of that and maybe I’ll start caring again.  NOTE TO MARTHA:  Let’s see if you can top that one!


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