Welcome to Episode 2 of The Apprentice - Martha Stewart edition. First we get a look back at last week, and since I don’t have a prior summary to point to I’ll go here:
In week 1, the candidates split themselves into two teams. The self-described “creative” castaways banded together and selected the name Matchstick. Presumably this represents how their team will go down in flames. The less creative, more business oriented candidates became the second team and decide to call themselves Primarius. Of course, Martha liked the more creative name of Matchstick and had little to say about the other team’s name selection. The teams were challenged to create a children’s book by choosing a traditional fairy tale and adapting it to a more contemporary setting. The Matchstick team was led by Jeff, whose abrasive, dictatorial leadership style made for good, fun TV, but little else. Like, say, winning the task.
Suffice to say that Jeff sucked as a project manager and his team lost, mainly because their fairy tale was downright scary. He tries to pin the blame on Dawn because she wanted a little peace and quiet when she tried to write the story, but Martha doesn’t buy his story and finally tells Jim “get the hell out of my office”. Oh, sorry, that was a different show. Actually, she tells Jeff he just doesn’t fit in. In this case, that’s a good thing.
Back in the tastefully decorated loft, the teams are busy making dinner, waiting for the conference room survivors. They act surprised to see Jim and Dawn, but really, how could they be? Jim, whose creative talents are mostly focused towards crafting his niche as the Martha Apprentice villain, let’s loose. He tells the other players he took control of blaming Jeff in the boardroom, trying to give the message that he’s not to be messed with. He talks about using a scythe to cut down an oak tree. He cut the mighty oak at the ankles and it fell like a great timber! Somewhere, Martha is shaking her head, aghast at the mixed metaphors Jim is using. The others think he is unstable and psycho. They know where he stands – he’s there to slit their throats and nothing else. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the rest of his team gang up on him soon.
Martha wants them to meet her at the video screen at 9am. I guess after months of 6am prison wake-up calls, she isn’t too enthused about starting the day too early. Anyway, Martha is at a florist shop talking about flowers, which will be part of their next task. They will set up a flower business and the team that sells the most wins. Once again, Martha’s trusty sidekick, Charles (who is the closest thing they could find to clone of Donald’s George) and her daughter Alexis will be Martha’s eyes and ears for this task. Last week, Charles carried an unlit cigar wherever he went, which made him look like an idiot and was not well received by the viewing public. I’m wondering if he’ll keep his cigar in his pocket this episode.
The Matchstick team appoints Chuck to be the project manager because he has done freelance flower work before and they believe he can pick flowers. He decides they should stay away from arranging flowers and focus on simple bouquets. Shawn tells us that they realize what they need to do is get a PRODUCT before they figure out how to SELL it. Wow, pure genius! I can see these are definitely the creative ones. This reminds me of a Dilbert cartoon: Dogbert is a consultant for small businesses run by artists. The artists will think his “obvious generalities” are brilliant. In the final panel, where Dogbert is meeting with his clients, one client says “Whoa! Are you saying we need revenue to make a profit?” while the other client says “Ouch. I’ve got a headache on one side”. This is one of my favorite cartoons and I can just see the entire Matchstick team getting a headache as they try to grasp these simplest of business principles.
Team Matchstick takes a road trip to the flower market. Tulips? Lilacs? Which will they choose? They decide to keep it simple by selling fresh tulips imported from Holland. Jim wants to sell them to hotels, but Chuck doesn’t think that’s a good idea. Of course, this prompts Jim to react like a three year. Chuck is not happy.
Dawn complains there is no list of tasks to perform. There is no organization, just chaos. Meanwhile, we’re 15 minutes into this episode and haven’t even seen the other team. Is there another team? Chuck can’t handle the pressure and decides to step down as Project Manager. He dramatically declares he will leave the loft. What a freaking baby! His teammates want him to stay – after all, they need a convenient scapegoat this week. Chuck, who seems somewhat revitalized at this transparent show of support, takes charge and decides what they are going to do, but doesn’t tell us. All we know for sure is it won’t be spectacular!
Finally we get our first glimpse of the Primarius team, where Carrie is the project manager this week. She plans to organize her team and delegate tasks effectively. Their concept is to latch onto a celebrity florist, since this is a high end neighborhood and they want the best. What the hell is a celebrity florist? This is now the top entry on my list of phrases I never thought I would hear during my lifetime.They decide on renowned flower designer to the stars, Rene Hoffstead. Jennifer calls to ask if he’s interested in the project (introducing herself as Jennifer from Primarius Corp as if he’s supposed to recognize the name and be impressed.) He will be there in five minutes as he lives right around the corner.
Rene arrives and asks them who they are saying he’s never heard of Primarius Corporation and they sound like a fly-by-night corporation. Very perceptive! He has some advice for them about selling high-end flowers, with rule number one being don’t give discounts! They agree - no discounts. In fact, they’d like to mark up their flowers even higher than he normally sells them for. Rene agrees to partner with them. Carries tells us - when you don’t know how to do something, outsource it. She’s got a valid point there.
That night, the Matchstick girls dress up in all black and try to tell spread the word about their flower shop to the people on the streets. The problem is, they look more like hookers than anything else. <<Insert you own pistil/stamen joke here.>> Shawn and Jim are busy prepping the flower store. The ladies in black come in and argue with Jim who wants them to go to the store and buy him some brass cleaner. The ladies think it would be a waste of $4.00, so Jim throws them out of the store. Jim is excited because he has something to use against them in the conference room if they lose: Iwe lost because our brass wasn’t shiny. Matchstick is already preparing for their project to be a disaster. Back in the loft, Jim campaigns to the other women on the team to get rid of Dawn, but the girls aren’t buying it. We’ll see how persuasive Jim is later, after their inevitable loss. After all, Primarius would have to be a total disaster to lose to this train wreck of a team. Will the Glamorous Ladies of Matchstick fall in line with Jim since at least it’s not one of them he’s targeting?
Primarius is relying totally on Rene for their project. The décor, props and equipment are all his. The store looks great, all they need is customers. Since their store is located in a high-end neighborhood, they’ve come up with a highly innovative marketing plan - handing out flyers in front of the store! Oooh, now I have a headache on one side! People are coming in to look, but their eyes are popping out of their heads because of the prices. Seems celebrity florists aren’t quite enough to pull in a huge throng of flower groupies willing to pay $150 for a flower arrangement. Once again, it reminds me of an old joke; the one with a kid selling lemonade for $1,000 a glass. “You’re not going to sell many glasses of lemonade at $1,000 a glass,” says a potential customer, ]“Yes,” replies, the child, “but I only have to sell one.”
Matchstick is getting foot traffic in the store and apparently people are more inclined to part with $15 than $150. Also, Matchstick has hired some Dutch girls in cute outfits to sell the tulip theme. Alexis and Charles comment that the girls are on the wrong corner, depending on what they’re selling. Dawn gives one big-spending customer the VIP treatment, including having his gets his flowers delivered. She tells us if she ever sees him again, she’ll make out with him for three hours. This is easily the best line of the entire episode. Charles comments on the difference between the two strategies – Matchstick’s is a volume-based strategy, while Primarius is hoping for one big sale to a complete idiot.
Back to Primarius. The team is still trying to make its first $10,000 sale, but it seems as though they are beginning to rethink their pricing strategy, even though Carrie was firmly against offering discounts. Howie is concerned with their complete inability to turn product. Amazingly, once they lower the prices, they actually start selling flowers, although this is probably just a coincidence, right? Whoa, are you saying we need sales to make revenue?
The task is over, the flower shops are closed for business, and it’s time for a little chat with Martha in the conference room. My first thought is what Rene is thinking this morning when he sees that his little high-end flower shop is closed, as they were indeed a fly-by-night operation. Can you imagine how betrayed he must feel? Anyway, in the conference room, Martha is bubbly and cheerful because she so loves the flower business. Martha calls on George, I mean Charles, to give his opinion of Primarius’ performance. Charles is without his ridiculous cigar of last week. Do you suppose they edited it out of the episodes based on viewer reaction last week? He says that Primarius did well, selling $1,886 worth of flowers. I would never have guessed they sold that much based on the footage we saw.
Alexis tells that Matchstick took the other approach, focusing on volume instead of price. Their revenue was $969, roughly half of Primarius! For their reward, Primarius gets to create a garden for the Hudson Guild’s recently renovated Arts and Children’s center. Matchstick’s reward is some face time with Martha in the conference room where someone will receive a strongly worded letter!
At the Hudson Guild, Primarius is psyched because they are helping kids with a garden. After all, there’s nothing little kids love more than working in the garden! Martha is trying to teach them it’s better to give than receive, but c’mon, couldn’t they at least get a really nice dinner?
In their tastefully decorated loft, the Matchstick Four, Jim and three of the ladies, are discussing who’s to blame for this loss. Jim declares that Dawn is the cancer of this team and says some other mean, nasty things about her, even though Dawn is sitting only steps away. Dawn says if he wants to see what’s wrong with the team, he needs to look in the mirror. Unfortunately, the mirror would refuse to look back. The Matchstick Four discuss that Chuck the project leader must be told to take Dawn to the conference room and that they will back him. Jim is looking forward to selling Dawn down the river. Jim tries to sell this plan to Chuck, but Chuck has a slightly different plan. His brilliant plan is to place the blame solely on himself and take one for the team. Marcela is listening in and sees the pleasure Jim is getting from manipulating this situation. She says that Jim flat out likes gratuitous cruelty. Indeed, he seems to enjoy this much more than the actual tasks.
The artists formerly known as Team Matchstick enter the tastefully decorated conference room where Martha asks what went wrong. Marcela blames a lack of delegation and communication. Chuck takes responsibility for this. He says they’ve all taken on too many of the creative tasks and not focused enough on the business tasks. Martha says she thinks the creativity was lacking and what were they thinking with the Dutch girls walking the streets? She apparently hasn’t seen Donald’s Apprentice and doesn’t know that sex sells. Betheny says it was part of their Dutch theme, acknowledging that all their tulips were from Holland and that they couldn’t think of anything associated with Holland that people would identify with besides Dutch girls and windmills. Martha is shocked and worried about the phone calls they will get from Dutch people protesting Betheny’s stereotyping of the Dutch people. She seriously asks “what about Dutch mirrors and Van Gogh? And they say Martha’s out of touch with the people! How can they have missed such an obvious promotional opportunity. Clearly they would have been much better off sending girls with Dutch mirrors out intot he streets to drum up business. And can’t you envision a guy in a Van Gogh costume walking around? Maybe he could pass out ear-shaped business cards! Alexis says the Dutch girls were ineffective because they were walking the wrong side of the street and couldn’t answer any questions. Basically,, Matchstick set them out on their own and never checked on them. Again, Martha comments that the Dutch girls were real tacky.
But enough about the girls - how did our project leader do? Chuck lists his accomplishments - he did timelines and had a nervous breakdown. He comments that the experience wasn’t pleasant. Martha wonders why if he at least tried to keep the morale of the team up. ? Chuck says no, and tells her he feels the need to take full responsibility for the team’s loss. Jim angrily pipes in that he takes it as a deep, personal, wounding insult that Chuck would say that and how dare he resign (although Chuck never mentioned resigning). It’s a flagrant disregard for a team that rallied around him. How dare Chuck take responsibility – he’s messing up Jim’s little plan to oust Dawn! Jim is determined to drag Dawn’s name through the mud, despite Chuck’s insistence on taking responsibility. She is a charlatan!
Martha says Jim seems to have an agenda and he admits he does – to save his team! Some overly dramatic music here would have been nice. Chuck must pick two people. He picks Jim and Dawn. Shawn asks if Martha has any words of advice for the team? She says she really can’t help people get along. Their behavior is ridiculous and they can’t succeed if they’re going to whine, kvetch, and complain. Charles adds that you cant quit. Martha calls them ridiculous. Charles has his cigar out again now because he wants to be ridiculous too. Martha is not happy. Betheny says she’s so embarrassed she want to cry, but Martha says ”cry and you’re out of here. Women in business don’t cry.” Ouch.! Dawn, Jim, and Chuck will wait outside while the rest go back to the stylish and tastefully decorated loft.
Martha, Alexis, and Charles discuss the candidates, noting mostly Jim’s agenda to get rid of Dawn and protect others. When the trio is called back in, Dawn is asked why she should stay and she lists the contributions she made during this tasks. Jim keeps protesting that Dawn does nothing. Funny, we never hear what Jim did to contribute. Martha and company aren’t buying Jim’s story. Chuck says they were just grasping at straws and were pathetic. He says he may not have what it takes to manage people, which Martha says is a big part of the executive’s job. Alexis wants to know why he brought Jim. Chuck says the biggest team conflict is the one between Jim and Dawn, and maybe they should flush it out here.
Martha says their teamwork here should emulate the teamwork that goes on at Martha Stewart Living. where teams work focused toward the success of the project without backbiting, quitting and fabrication of problems. Martha, this may be true, but I’ll bet teams at Martha Stewart Living aren’t facing the prospect of one member losing their job after every project. She continues her rant, saying she’s never quit a job and never thought of quitting. She’s even gone to JAIL and made the best of it. A team malfunctioning as badly as Matchstick needs to pull together.
Chuck is gone due to his inability to bring the team together. Good luck and goodbye. As for the other two, she’s giving them a chance to see if they can come together and repair their relationship and try to bring their talents forth more. But Jim’s obvious talent is his ability to be sneaky and backstab his coworkers. I think he’s doing a marvelous job displaying his talent. In the end, Charles
kisses Martha’s butt praises Martha’s decision and Martha starts her strongly worded letter to Chuck:
There was no teamwork, and though you are creative, you’re easily flustered. It’s better you leave now and focus on your strengths.
Good luck, and safe traveling.
Well, that’s it for episode 2 of The Apprentice – Martha Stewart. Tune in for next week’s episode, where Martha offers to Let Them Eat Cake. And , as always, make sure to come back to Reality TV World for an update of the status of Charles’ cigar!
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