We chose the American version of the show “The Apprentice”, from which we took the 2nd episode of season 1. Out of the two teams featured we decided to observe the female team, also referred to as the “Protégé Corporation”.
The team members are: Amy Henry, Omorosa Manigualt-Stallworth, Tammy Lee, Heidi Bressler, Kristi Frank, Ereka Vetrini, Jesse Conners and Katrina Campins.
On an individual basis, they are trying to stay in the show, to become the apprentice of Donald Trump which requires a team effort: In this episode they have to create the most successful advertising campaign for a private jet company called “Marquis Jet”.
The environment the team is working in can be described as highly competitive; they are competing with a male team which in turn is very eager to make up for losing to the female team in round 1.They are also acting under considerable time pressure as the objective is to come up with a advertisement campaign for “Marquis Jet” within two days. Therefore they have the support of the marketing experts of Deutsch marketing agency.
To all of us the “Protégé Corporation” seems rather organized and driven. We get this impression since as soon as they get their task, they immediately take action and call “Marquis Jet”. Some of us find the group very mixed and heterogenic. However, the group does not seem a team (yet) because they also have a lot of discussion and there seems to be quite a bit of tension between some of the team members. Others think they only seem disunited at first (e.g. while choosing the project manager) whereas later on they become more of a team, especially when Omorosa puts her own issues aside and presents the advertisement in a very professional manner and focuses on the task at hand.
The “Protégé Corporation” consists of the following members:
Amy Henry is the project manager for this episode’s task. Our group members all agree that she is very organized and looks like a real leader based on her decision to call their clients straight away underlining her leadership and initiative. Also she tries to relieve the tension between two team members by separating them showing considerable “social skills” to ensure a decent environment to work in.
To our group Omorosa Manigualt-Stallworth does not seem a great team player (e.g. has a “huge issue for power” according to another candidate), she often does what she wants to do, even if that is not what the rest of the team thinks is best. Some members of our group even describe her as cold and disagreeable. We all noticed how she doubts the project manager and aggravates other team members.
Tammy Lee on the other hand seems very creative to all of us and has the guts to take a major risk to win the task. By thinking outside the box (unlike their male counterparts), she comes up with the “shock and awe” advertisement concept that leads the team to victory.
Some of our group members believe that Heidi Bressler is a very capable and reliable team member that executes her task very well. Especially when she is presenting the advertisement to the CEO of Deutsch and his team she comes across as very persuasive.
To some members of our group Kristi Frank seems very ambitious. When she gets a taste of “the Donald Trump way of life”, she immediately says she aspires to live like that and be successful. But others didn’t really notice her at all as she is not as present as some of her team mates.
We all agree that Ereka Vetrini is the most passionate of the team. She does have a strong opinion, stands her ground and does not give in when being harassed by Omorosa, even when she is accused of being a racist.
We all agree that the team is trying to win the task of the day, so that Donald Trump can fire none of them. To win they have to design the best advertisement for a corporate jet (the Marquis Jet). The advertisement consists of a print advertisement, a commercial, a proposal and a media plan. They have to complete the task in 48 hours. If they win the task they will be flown to Boston in a private jet to enjoy a dinner there.
Each of the team’s members also wants to excel in what they do, because the ultimate (individual) goal is to become the Apprentice of Donald Trump.
All of us agree that the individuals are trying to reach the goal, because if they don’t, they might get fired. The losing team’s project manager and two team members of her choice will be in the board room, where Trump will decide which of the three will be fired.
However, we don’t think everyone in the team seems equally motivated. Some of us think the project manager is higher motivated as she has a higher stake, since she would definitely be in the board room if the team lost. The team members are also motivated to win the task because they are trying to impress Donald Trump in order to become his apprentice . One of our group members stated that Omorosa and Ereka seem less motivated than the rest, or at least lose focus by having several discussions over their ongoing private conflict which on the other hand does seem to motivate Omorosa in particular as she wants to prove herself by beating the odds stacked upon her by her teammates.
There are a number of reasons for why we would call “Protégé Corporation” a group. We all saw the obvious: They are all women and are all American. They have a group leader, a group name and a collective goal (not going to the board room as well as proving themselves to Trump). They also live in the same suite together. And although they are from different ethnic backgrounds, have different hometowns and different professions, they were all successful business people before the show. We also saw that they are from the ages 21 to 36.
To most of us it looks like an advantage that they have (had) different jobs which helps them completing the diverse task. But we also figure that their different backgrounds do create tensions between the individuals. Since Omorosa implies that she is being discriminated by Ereka there is strong evidence of communication problems between Omorosa and the rest of the group (“me against all of you”-attitude). Some of us think that her previous job as a political consultant might explain why she acts in such a disagreeable way. Tammy is an Asian-American, which might have contributed to her creativity and openness.
We agree that most of the team members interact kindly and professionally with each other. The project manager calls the shots and gives the orders. We noticed that Omorosa does not speak nicely to her other team members, even going as far as insulting people.
The team members are expected to act professionally and courteous and to follow the orders of the team leader. Some of us also noticed when Amy left the rest of the team for the interview with Marquis jets, without having left the team with specific tasks, most of the team remained loyal to Amy, even though she was absent.
Also some of us figured that the female team interacted in a lot more personal way than the male team. Some of the Protégé team speak with a lot of passion, which is emphasized by their extensive gestures and body language.
As we previously mentioned there obviously is a lot of racial stereotyping or the at least the accusation of it going on in this episode (mainly the case of Omorosa and Ereka).
Ereka was also described as being passionate simply because of her italian origin. There is also the typical male-female stereotyping: between the groups, in the advertisements and in the presentation.
Our group finds that the “Protégé Corporation” even uses sexist stereotypes to sell their product (e.g. their posters as well as weaing uniforms during their presentation) which is differs from the two examples above since this is more of an intended stereotyping which eventually helps them succeed.
Because the members of “Protégé Corporation” are from such a range of different backgrounds (e.g. profession) the group appears to be rather creative and able to think outside the box, to come up with very diverse ideas. Our group believes that this team is a great example to highlight the advantages (and disadvantages) of diversity.
Another factor that contributes to their high motivation is their collective drive to complete the task and do so well. Also, after initial debates they seem to have established a fairly clear hierarchy and are accepting of delegation by the team leader which gives the team great efficiency as no time-consuming discussions are required.
Moreover they look to be working as a team and even seem to be extra unified because of the continuous conflict of most of the team members with Omorosa.
Furthermore we would like to mention how their team seems to be really open to new ideas which is shown when they have to get accustomed to the unconventional “sex sells” approach which a few of the team members seem uncomfortable with but manage to get accustomed to.
The main weakness of “Protégé Corporation” is that all members follow an individual goal which they cannot be blamed for. However this seems to have an effect on the way the various members interact with each other as the aspect of rivalry is consistently looming.
Additionally, our group found that the diversity in their team is not managed very well and hence the negative effects of this feature are coming though causing a lot of conflicts and tension which paramounts in the racism accusation by Omorosa.
All this tension can also be really distractive and may lead to a lack of focus on the actual project. Fortunately, the “real” fight only breaks out after “Protégé Corporation” have won the round.
In conclusion, we believe that the inner-group chemistry is not optimal, due to the diverse (ethnic, professional, etc.) backgrounds of the group. This distracts them remaining professional on the job and achieving the task at hand, as their personal issues are taking over.
This problem, which is encountered in countless corporate environments, can be solved by trying to achieve a better team bonding. Even though this is a casting show where each of the candidates have to perfom well individually, they should be able to become more of a real team.
Our group thinks that the best way to create a better team atmosphere would be to make their team members spend more time together off the job, when they are not under time- and performance pressure to enable them to get to know their team mates better.
This should also promote mutual understanding of their diverse backgrounds and hence enable them to avoid any form of problem linked to e.g. racism in the future. The professional basis in their interaction should always be given in order to work together effectively.
In addition, some of our team members noticed, how this main problem at the “Protégé Corporation” arises often in combination with time pressure. Hence an improvement in time management skills would also be advisable.
Another idea of how to achieve better understanding within the group is to have a discussion to share their personal life and experiences. By doing this they will learn and respect each other’s values and ideas.