Unexpectedly Intriguing!
April 7, 2005

The business lesson to learn from this past week's episode of The Apprentice was quickly delivered in 30 minutes or less by the episode's Domino's Pizza themed task, as the "Net Worth" team sabotaged itself in operating a mobile pizza kitchen.

Sabotage may be too strong a word, as the team was really done in by its own good intentions. The trouble started as the members of the Net Worth team were training at a Domino's in Brooklyn, when team members Alex and Chris went to a nearby construction site seeking to pre-sell pizzas they would be producing the next day. They succeeded in making a commitment for the team to deliver pizzas to the construction workers the next day.

That deal turned out to be a costly one. The team's mobile pizza kitchen (aka the "Pizza Truck") would be based in mid-town Manhattan - making delivery of pizzas to Brooklyn somewhat problematic as the Pizza Truck was the only vehicle available to do the job, and it had to stay in its targeted market. Project manager Stephanie made the decision to personally deliver the pizzas to the Brooklyn construction site via New York's famous subway system (despite never having used the subway before) for the sake of honoring the commitment made by her team members. In honoring the deal, she sacrificed an hour and a half of her time in overseeing the operations of the Pizza Truck during the busiest time of the day, the lunchtime rush.

With the team's decisions ensuring that its falling short in this task would not happen by accident, the question becomes what should Stephanie have done as the team's manager? Here, Stephanie had several choices. First, she could have vetoed the deal after Alex and Chris made it, and sent them back to deliver the bad news to the construction workers, preferably before they set up shop the next day.

Second, she could have made either Alex or Chris decide which of them would deliver the pizzas to Brooklyn, which would place the accountability for honoring the deal squarely with those who made it.

Third, she could deliver the pizzas herself and honor the commitment made by her team, assuming she could afford to leave the team unattended long enough to do so. Stephanie chose this option and was held accountable by Donald Trump in the show's boardroom, as her decision to trade her managerial responsibility for her and her team's reputation was ultimately responsible for the team's downfall. Combined with the weight of her prior poor performance, she was, unsurprisingly, fired.

And since I can't resist commenting on Donald Trump's unrelenting brand marketing, here's the best quote from the Arizona Republic's Apprentice episode wrapup:

Donald Trump meets the teams in one of his restaurants, where he has just taught a chef to speak Trumpese: For example, it's not just a fine buffet, it's the finest, yoogist buffet in the Western hemisphere. And Trump isn't just a restaurant owner: He's the almighty god-king of foodstuffs.

Indeed.

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