Friday, September 30, 2005

What is Trump Thinking??

For now, a lighter post about the really fun things in life.

My wife and I love The Apprentice. That would be the Trump version, not the Martha Stewart version. But Trump seems to be making some very dumb decisions about hiring and firing lately. And while some of it can be written off to keeping the show interesting, the hiring decisions leave much to be desired.

Last season Trump hired Kendra over the very qualified, intelligent and likeable Tana. Kendra came across as a ditzy and whiny 80s valley girl who expressed sshock at just about every circumstance that turned against her, dropping her jaw wide open in a brainless stare for the camera whenever she described an unfortunate turn. Granted, Tana talked down her team for the final task, and there were some pretty obvious foul ups, which killed her in the end, but her performance record throughout the season was nearly perfect.

Kendra came up at the last minute and caught some lucky breaks. But her adolescent tone and interpersonal skills showed her to be a real liability. Nonetheless Trump hired her. Interestingly, the project was an interior decorating job--small beer compared to Bill Rancic's and Kelly Purdue's skyscraper projects, and perhaps a sign as to the confidence he wished to place in Kendra. Such work was probably beneath Tana's skills, and she was probably the better for not getting a job which I thought fit Kendra's unproven and frankly unreliable leadership talents.

But last night, in what was a predictable decision, Trump fired a guy who was a very realistic contender for the winner, allowing a goofy train-wreck of a candidate--Marcus-- to live to see another day. Chris went home for no other reason than his team lost with him at the helm, on what I thought was a matter of personal preference and taste--and he brought in a guy who played a minimal role in the failure, but who seems incapable of making any meaningful contribution to his team. Trump has fired people before for making political/statistical choices about who they bring to the boardroom with them, and that certainly contributed to this firing. But the only justification I see for firing Chris (and there isn't much, as his team really did nothing significantly wrong), was to keep Marcus alive to frustrate viewers for yet another week.

Marcus is an underperformer, and perhaps was allowed to remain to present a personnel management challenge to future project managers. And to his credit, Trump remarked that Marcus was not in a good position. So he may survive solely as a sharpening stone for other contestants, rather than as a viable Trump employee in his own right.

But every management bone in me says that you dump the dead wood. And Marcus, inventor though he is, works better with his drafting table than with other people.

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