Now we know the show was once a reality show block buster. In season one, we knew not, what to expect. It was a fresh new concept that hit our television sets in 2004. Noting such, when the contestants returned to the board room, the losing team members were pitted against one another in the fight of their lives to acquire the coveted apprenticeship to Donald J. Trump. For the most part, the debate was spirited, but a bit more serious, respectful, and far more professional looking. The candidates really didn’t talk over each other much at all. There may have been one or two who did so, but after that, it seems like the show focused primarily on entertainment value vs. business acumen in future seasons. With that in mind, this leads me to review highly questionable firings from the 10th season currently in progress.
Being ‘recession themed’, season 10 was structured to help the candidates get back on their feet. Something every American can relate to right? Even post firing, which has never been done across the board for the entire cast. Unfortunately, this did not happen for many. In fact, many of them have now been tainted by their appearance, which defeats the central purpose of the show reverting from the ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ concept. Please allow me to elaborate further with very keen examples.
1st on deck, we just have to start with Mahsa Saeidi-Azcuy. This has unquestionably become the most controversial firing in the history of this program. Mahsa was an Assistant D.A. from Brooklyn, NY looking to make a career move much like many of the shows candidates. In Mahsa’s case, she has stated her district had been making random budget cuts, which lead to layoffs. Rather than waiting to be put out to pasture by the D.A’s office, she applied to be a contestant on NBC’s The Apprentice. At the end of task 1, her team lost-she was brought back to the boardroom by project manager (PM) Nicole. During the heated showdown, she was labeled everything from polarizing, abrasive, and a few words I care not include. Now most notably, when she was brought back to the boardroom in week 7, she was labeled a liar and disloyal. Now I’m assuming for legal reasons, Mr. Trump fired her for being disloyal, though the painting was already on the walls with regard to her being labeled a liar. After that airing, she immediately posted a video on Youtube that went viral in just hours. She demanded Mr. Trump clear her name, or there would be further action taken on her behalf.
Eventually, she later appeared on several media outlets, and finally Gov. Mike
Huckabee’s talk show which ultimately vindicated her of being branded a liar. She also claimed in the video, before she removed it, that Mr. Trump sent her a letter of apology, and she sort of hinted that he says in the document that he knew she wasn’t lying. During the boardroom showdown, Mahsa alleged she and Clint, another contestant, mutually shared with one another how much each team made during a previous task that involved cash handling. Clint and Team Octane stormed back into the boardroom in an effort to help him clear his name of such allegations. Eventually, from what we saw through the power of editing, the remaining candidates, and the Trump family verbally destroyed Mahsa. There was a point when Mr. Trump asked Brandy if he thought Mahsa was lying. The camera pans over to Clints face, which seemed to express uncertainty and fear, as to how Brandy would respond. After a brief hesitation on Brandy’s behalf, Brandy and Clint made eye contact, and Brandy proceeded to state she definitely thought Mahsa was lying. At this point, Mr. Trump says it didn’t matter what Mahsa said or didn’t say, so he fired her for being disloyal. I find this highly questionable for many reasons. What would identify as disloyal? The task was already completed. The only thing they did was compare results in regards to how much money the teams earned after the pedicab sales event was concluded, but before the boardroom session commenced. Now apparently this may have been against the rules, but she was the only one terminated, but terminated for disloyalty? What about Clint’s role in the discussion? He too participated in such a conversation, but was spared. Keep in mind, she was fired for disloyalty, but that makes absolutely no sense. It’s a joke. The icing on top of the cake is that she was butchered 1 week after it happened (1 task prior), thus no one was fired for actually losing the current task at all.
Now we will hear the case of one Gene Folkes. Gene was a financial advisor, but like everyone else on this season of the show, the economy was not too friendly to his line of work. He applied to become a contestant and evidently made it. In task 1, he was nominated to be Team Octane’s 1st PM. He accepted the nomination and his team was victorious. His reward was the opportunity to meet with successful CEO Donald J. Trump. A very good reward, because he not only received valuable one on one time with the boss, he was also given candid advice from a highly successful businessman. Unfortunately, Gene’s praise was a bit short lived as we fast forward to task 5. Gene’s assignment here was to co-emcee a fashion show with David. By the time the show started, Gene was seemingly underprepared, and the event became a disaster. In the boardroom, Trump repeatedly shouted “But Gene couldn’t read! He couldn’t read!” It was very embarrassing to watch a grown man, who is educated in reality, be subjected to such a harsh verbal condemnation. I must admit, the way it went down, I was laughing during the presentation. In the boardroom when Gene was fired, I thought he deserved it for stuttering throughout the entire presentation, and he owned it as he would say. However, being labeled illiterate was out of line. What’s questionable about his firing you ask? Well, once again, the magic of editing can spin things the way it desires to. Aired on Tyana’s Podcast, Gene will reveal what happened behind the scenes. First off, he starts by stating he wasn’t given enough time on the internet to get the research done on the shoes. The production team limits their internet access throughout the series in general. Secondly, he also reveals that David accidentally broke the printer Gene needed to print out the info he acquired thus far. Already being on a limited window of time, he was unable to acquire the print outs, thus he conducts the presentation with a laptop at the podium. Disaster! And lastly, Gene reveals he didn’t have his eyeglasses. I went back to the episode and this was verified. The only time he in fact wore his eyeglasses in episode 5 was in the boardroom. They apparently weren’t allowed, or able to return to the suite because there weren’t enough camera crews to follow them. This is very interesting information to note here. Now whether Gene mentioned any of these factors in the boardroom, I’m not too sure, but wow, if he did, he wasn’t justifiably terminated.
Okay, we’ll move on to the final case of Anand Vasudev. Anand is local to New York City, and worked in private equity real estate managing high end portfolios. Automatically, this puts him a step above many in this contest, as working alongside Mr. Trump as his Apprentice will primarily revolve around real estate. Anand was portrayed as a competent, strong, and fierce leader early on. Even before he stepped up as PM of a task which led to his eventual downfall, we could clearly see Anand was the odds on favorite for quite some time as the contest progressed, and competitors were eviscerated. Now, let’s get to it. In week 6, Anand stepped up to be the official PM. The goal of this operation was to generate more revenue than the opposing team, Fortitude, by operating pedicab tours. By the end of the task, Anand led team Octane to a commanding victory over team Fortitude. Now before you get too excited, lets pull the breaks on the victory train, because 2 weeks later, information surfaces that Anand was discovered to apparently convey text messages to his local associates. He wanted them to come down to Trump towers and sign up for a pedicab tour to boost his chances in winning. Fortunately or unfortunately, no one he contacted showed up, but the text messages were discovered by Trump’s staff, which I’m assuming are simply producers in this case. I can never condone or defend cheating. He did something that was a clear violation to the rules. However, it has been brought to light by Tyana, Anand, Mahsa, and Poppy that others were participating in less than honorable activity that may have ushered them right out the door as well. I’m not condoning bad behavior to condone other bad behavior at all, but if you’re going to punish one person for breaking the rules of the game show, shouldn’t punishment be equal and extended to all? It was pretty sad to see Anand go, as he was the last bit of interest the show had left this season. What’s worse is that the guy was labeled a dishonorable businessman by being labeled a cheater on national television. Ouch!
Overall, we have to remember this season of the show was supposed to help these individuals get back on their feet, not bury them. I completely believe in taking accountability for one’s own actions, but this was done selectively. We clearly saw another contestant lie directly to Mr. Trump on 3 different occasions. He called the individual out on it once, but essentially, the issue was not further pressed. We’ve seen 2 other candidates stutter and stumble through their presentations as well, but alas, they were also spared. I’ll also note that they at least won their respective tasks. However, they weren’t berated the way Gene was. In fact, they were somewhat coddled.
I think the people above were singled out for pure entertainment value. Anand was PM of the Roman Chariots theme via the Pedicab task. In poetic justice, NBC showed us the rise and fall of a Roman Emperor? Mahsa was the tough as nails prosecutor that shut people down in any argument during the show. Being outside of the courtroom and placed into the boardroom, Mahsa became the defendant, and was axed. Gene was the guy who simply refused to play by the games goofy evolved rules, and he handled himself as a respectful professional and gentleman, more like the cast of the 1st season. So obviously, this is not good entertainment value for television. We did not see how David messed up the printer, thus telling us more why Gene couldn’t prepare a better presentation; adding to the fact he didn’t have his glasses. Again, it was entertaining, because I laughed very hard during his presentation. I thought he was nervous, but instead, he was portrayed in the boardroom as though his IQ suddenly dropped about 100 points.
The Apprentice has to decide whether they want to portray a serious business format, or display a 3 ring circus for entertainment. But considering this is perhaps the final season of the original concept to be aired, I guess it no longer matters. Sorry, but in a business community of the magnitude they are competing for, you can’t have both. I’ll reiterate the show started off more professional, and the individuals weren’t forced by George and others to have a shouting match like children in the boardroom. So you tell me what laws of business and respect need to be followed at any given time.