1. For this assignment, we watched the first episode of The Apprentice season nine. For this season, the contestants were various American celebrities who’s aim was to raise as much money for charity as possible throughout the show. The cast was comprised of fourteen members who were divided into two teams based on gender. For the season premier, the teams had to run a New York diner called “Burger Heaven” and were responsible for every aspect of running the restaurant, from creating the menus to the PR and marketing of the event. Each team had to choose a team leader who was in charge of delegating tasks and overseeing the entire project. It became evident throughout the episode that the team leader had a significant influence on the overall result of the challenge and who ultimately was responsible for the teams loss or win.
2. When comparing and contrasting our group’s individual observations it was evident that we critically analyzed each cast member based on first impressions. Although some of our impressions differed based on gender association, we judged the contestants’ superficial qualities as well as personal mannerisms to obtain a general sense of their character. In terms of judging the teams collectively, we unanimously agreed on each of their strengths and weaknesses and the overall interaction between team members and the natural hierarchy that developed as the challenge progressed. An interesting aspect that influenced our individual observations and, moreover, caused them to differ from one another was the diversity in our own group. Being comprised of three Europeans and one North American, our general views on American culture and even the basic premise of the show were significantly different based on the social environment we were raised in and how mainstream American culture was exposed to us. How this influenced our responses, for example, is although we could all conclude that we made rash character judgements based on first impressions, how and what we based those judgements on differed notably due to factors such as celebrity recognition and identifying generic stereotypes presented in mainstream American culture.
3. The first aspect we examined when forming initial impressions of the individual members was appearance. We critically scrutinized how they presented themselves in terms of style of dress, mannerisms (such as the way they spoke) and their interactions with the surrounding people. Furthermore, we analyzed gender initiative and leadership when the dynamics of the groups were being established and how that in turn reflected the characteristics of the individual and their ability to work collectively in a team. Looking more generally at the team as a whole, we were able to establish some primitive generalizations on the dynamics and organization of each team based on the initial tactics executed during the early stages of the challenge. How the team responded to their leader and the interactions between team members lead us to form opinions on how successful or unsuccessful these teams were going to be, and whether or not they would be able to diligently and effectively master their task.
4. Discrimination or the use of stereotypes were not blatantly apparent during the show, but the act of forming the teams based on gender confirmed a largely evident prejudice of men versus women. By pinning the two sexes against each other, it allowed for the use of stereotypes to take a predominant role in every aspect of the show; from the basic interactions within the teams to the competitive essence of the show itself. Gender is a superficial quality when dealing with its relation to a persons’ business qualities and their ability to perform the general tasks of the show. The use of stereotypes was also used subliminally in the casting of the show, starting with the host and creator himself, Donald Trump, who is a stereotypical slimy New York business man with a terrible haircut. The show then included a variety of celebrities and athletes, some of which could be characterized as fitting typical American stereotypes. One of the cast members was a former rock legend who’s facade consisted of blonde hair extensions and accompanied black bandana, while another member embodied the character of the “American Dream” Black athlete. Although this use of stereotypes did not have an influence on the challenges or show respectively, it re-established the general use of stereotypes portrayed in North America for cultural branding.
5. When looking generally at each team, we noticed a significant difference in the overall approach to the task at hand. The men worked democratically, looking for a common foundation on which to base their strategic and business ideas on for the entire challenge. They focused on the team objective and were practical yet diligent when mandating tasks, which allowed for a co-operative and effective work environment. The woman on the other hand, did not work as collectively as their opponents and seemed concerned with maintaining and enforcing their own personal opinions rather than adapting to the situation and collaborating with their fellow cast members. The men were able to define general motives and values for the team which allowed for a supportive network and a strong foundation to be established. This unity resulted in a more successful process and overall lead the men to win the challenge. The fact that each member was raising money for charity worked as a motivational factor for each member to individually contribute and participate to their fullest extent during the show. It allowed for personal motives to be set aside and for the teams to become more united as they had a common goal to not only win, but to do charitable work. Moreover, the fact that the cast was comprised of wealthy and influential individuals also benefited the teams tremendously in terms of networking and contacts. Those who were able to effectively use their contacts to their teams advantage had a much easier time allocating tasks and focusing on the overall structure and success of the event.
6. a) We identified that the female team’s biggest weakness was their failure to have a strong leader. The fact that their leader could not effectively delegate tasks or create a united and organized team led to the demise and general ineffectiveness of the group. As a team leader, it is your responsibility to ensure that the task will be carried out in a manner that will obtain the greatest success while effectively using the skills of your individual teammates, and the female team leader did not present any form of guidance or valuable leadership.
b) Brainstorm list:
-team leader creates a list of tasks and allows members to choose what area of the challenge they will focus on and be in charge of. (in essence, team leader mandates entire project)
-from the beginning, establish a set of core values and create a foundation for how you are going to master the challenge at hand
-team leader allows for the team to come up with the outline of the project entirely and acts as a guide, only interfering when conflicts arise and to move the project along
-team members act in unison, taking a “one for all, all for one” approach. Supportive community=comfortable work environment and therefore more productivity
-Elect a second leader to deal with administrative aspect of task
-team members respect the team leaders authority and do not constantly try to resist or counter their opinions/strategies. No overlaps of authority.
-Make sure that the team goals are totally clear and completely understood and accepted by each team member.
-more open communication. Allow everyone to share their opinion and feel like they are a valued member of the team. No one should feel like they can’t share their opinion or speak up about something regarding the teams performance or effectiveness.
c) First and foremost, our group would change the primary objectives and overall organization of the female team. They started off on the wrong foot and the key to any successful group project or challenge is a solid foundation. You need to clearly outline what your objectives are and how you can best allocate your resources to not only succeed, but master the task at hand. Once you have established what is necessary in order to accomplish the challenge or task, the team members can identify with their own personal strengths so to accomplish the challenge with the greatest of ease and efficiently use the resources and talents of individual team members. This allows for a democratic atmosphere to be established where the members feel like they are a valued asset of the team and are contributing to the overall success of the challenge. These factors will ultimately lead to a smoother operative system that is organized, productive and efficient and will result in much greater success.