We chose the series „The Apprentice“ and watched the second episode of the 10th season. The theme of this season is “second chance” with contestants who are affected by the recent recession. As the name says, in the show, 16 people in two groups compete to become the apprentice of „Donald Trump“, an US Business-man and Billionaire. Throughout the competition, the men’s group, called Octane, and the women´s group, called Fortitude, have to complete all sorts of business tasks. During these tasks, they try to beat the other group. At the end of every episode, a member of the loosing team will be fired/eliminated. In episode two, the two groups are told to go out and sell ice-cream in New York. The team which makes the most profit throughout the task will win. We decided to observe the men´s team for the assignment, even though, in the end, it turned out they made less profit than the girls. The team consists of eight members. Each of them has a different background, education and degrees. One just finished university, the other is a struggling property developer. Another is an entrepreneur. Although they are operating in one team and the only way to win is to work together, each one „fights“ for his own as well, as there only will be one apprentice of Donald Trump in the end.
Overall, the members in our group all had similar answers to the individual questions. However, there was a difference in the opinion of the „biggest strength and weakness“ of the observed team. One male group-member argued that it is harder for men to sell ice-cream than it is for women. His argument was reasoned by the „cuteness“ of the girls. At this point, the female member of our group disagreed. She counter-argued that men have the same effect on women as the approach in the same when selling ice-cream. Therefore the chances should be equal.
Everyone in our group had the impression that there is a high motivation and a good spirit in the group. This impression is reasoned by the enthusiasm of almost every member of the team, although some seemed to be more and some less motivated which also might come from the different personalities of the characters. Furthermore, there were lots of discussions in the group that brought up many different ideas. This partly is due to the big diversity of the members in the team, as the members were selected from all over the country.
By the end of the episode when both teams are interviewed by Donald Trump, he asks the team leader of the girls team whether or not she thought that they had an advantage of selling ice-cream in terms of their gender and brought out his opinion that: „If I had the choice of buying ice-cream from Lisa or David, David wouldn´t have the smallest chance“. Another example is the comment one of the guys gave about his teammate Alex, who didn’t sell much. He called him the ‘typical puppy dog of the group’, ‘a true follower’. In our opinion, this wasn’t based on much evidence. Alex just didn’t seem to be a good salesman but obviously had other good skills.
After discussing the possible strength and weaknesses we decided that their biggest strength is the group motivation. They take advantage of their diversity by using it to come out with lots of different ideas and then trying to compromise to the one they can all agree with the most. At the same time, this is a tricky one, since this diversity sometimes is the biggest weakness and danger for the group, when they cannot agree on one thing and start acting like individuals and not as a group. Furthermore it seemed that the group members only act in the interest of the group because they have to in order to achieve their personal goal.
In this task, the biggest factor that resulted them to lose the competition we believe was the leader. As a leader you are responsible for the final decisions as well as keeping the team organized, motivated, productive and effective. The team-leader of this challenge failed to create and maintain a structure within the group, which had a negative effect on the productivity. Furthermore, the team as a whole failed to use the potential of their group as they did not communicate in the right way. Instead of giving support to other members and help out, everyone concentrated on his own sales. This lack of social interaction within the group resulted them in making less profit. As a solution, the team leader needs to develop a better balance of having an overview over the situation, putting himself between his team members and trying to add something to the result, the total sales of the team.
After having bought clothes in order to bring more unity within the team, two of the team members (Alex and James) should have been given a more organizational function in the team as it has shown that this is their strength.
The best strategy for them would be to first communicate really well, getting to know each other better and discuss each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Who will do the hard sale work and who will focus on the organization and presentation throughout the day? Those who will focus on the organization and presentation should ask themselves how they can take advantage of different locations at different times in the park to sell ice-cream and if they can come up with attracting discounts/deals. The salesmen should brainstorm about tactics to convince customers to buy their ice-cream. The team leader is responsible in the end and should therefore focus on the group as a whole, take care of problems they face and make sure the individual players in the team communicate enough throughout the day. To conclude: More thinking in advance, better communication and a team leader who makes sure the individuals work well together.