Celebrity Apprentice leadership lessons

February 13, 2015

blindspots-1We’re nearing the end of this season’s Celebrity Apprentice, and the show’s going at warp speed.  And of course, there are more leadership lessons for us all.  This past week the lessons were clearly about leadership.

After last week’s massive firings of an entire team, Mr. Trump called the survivors into the board room: Vivica A. Fox, Leeza Gibbons and Geraldo. Yes, just Geraldo. He needs no other name. Just ask him.

Mr. Trump told the final three someone else would be fired –shocking in and of itself after his massacre of the entire opposing team–and asked each why they should remain and if they felt they were a stronger player than the others.

When he asked Vivica if she felt she was a stronger player than Leeza, she said “no.”   What????

I wasn’t the only one taken aback at her response. Trump looked shocked, saying that he respected her telling the truth but was distressed that she’d said it. I was surprised, too, because it meant she’d be fired and a minute later, she was. Was Vivica just done with the whole scene? Or was she just being honest?

I’d read a spoiler that said Vivica would be the season winner, but clearly, it was wrong.  And here’s what it meant:

Geraldo's famous selfie.

Geraldo’s famous selfie.

Horrors! Geraldo is one of the finalists.

And Leeza, who has led her teams by being really nice and inclusive, is the other.

The two were given a task to promote via a TV ad and to sell Universal Orlando resort packages. Each finalist got three fired competitors to help, but couldn’t choose which.

On Geraldo’s team were Ian Ziering, Lorenzo Lamas and Vivica. None of them were Geraldo fans during the season. Truth is, Geraldo had no supporters among the contestants. None at all. Shocking, right? Not if you’ve been reading along or following the show. Geraldo does not play well with others.

Still, these folks pledged to do their best to help Geraldo win. Or at least what’s what they said…

Leeza was assigned Brandi Glanville, Johnny Damon and Kevin Jonas. Leeza seemed thrilled with her team and there were hugs all around. She’s so nice!  I was particularly happy to see the smart Kevin Jonas return, as his early elimination was a disappointment.

Time to conceptualize the TV spot.  Geraldo had an amazing and unique idea. Why didn’t HE star in the spot? Of course! Everyone knows him! He’s got a recognizable voice! He’s a star!  How MANY times have we heard this during the show? Geraldo is always quick to offer up his many talents and to be at center stage. Now that he was a finalist, of COURSE he would star.

You could see the expression on his team’s face, which was “Ok, let him hang himself.”  Lorenzo was assigned to direct. But when they got to location with a shot sheet that Lorenzo and Vivica had taken pains to put together, Geraldo had already set up the shots he wanted. They weren’t the shots his team had put together.

Message for Geraldo.

Message for Geraldo.

Geraldo has no distance at all on any task because his head is so far up his own hind end it’s amazing we can still see his face.  He is far from a leader. He is a star.

So here’s a lesson for any team leader:  You may be the center of the universe but you didn’t get there without help.

Ask for input, use some of it, acknowledge the team and they will be behind you 100%. Discount them at your own peril. Blame them? Expect disaster.

The team was crunched for time, so when a logistical snafu by someone–the team? a production assistant? Geraldo? caused a significant delay, Geraldo went ballistic and loudly declared that from now on, he’d do EVERYTHING HIMSELF! Because he was the only one he could trust.

your-faultThere is so much to say about this that I don’t know where to start.  First, it’s clear Geraldo has never had to bother with the details of anything, or he’d understand that shit happens and the idea is to fix it, not to affix blame.  And I’m certain his team was secretly grinning with glee that he had now openly rejected their participation and they could watch from the sidelines as he deployed yet another Geraldo-centric promotion. His track record has been so poor with his own ideas that his team must have figured he’d lose. I can’t imagine they’d be distressed about that.

On the other hand, sweet Leeza had her hands full with Brandi and Johnny, who did nothing on their tasks, seeming to believe that their trip to Universal Orlando to obtain props for the commercial was a vacation. First, they disappeared together for hot dogs and beer, and later, they disappeared to ride the rollercoaster.  Brandi had been a quite good contestant when she had the possibility of winning, but it was obvious that since she could no longer win,  she was not going to give anything at all to help someone else win.  Johnny, I think, isn’t exactly the brightest bulb in the chandelier and was happy to follow a pretty girl anywhere.  Task? What task?  I  had to wonder what his wife thought of his burgeoning friendship with Brandi…

Message to Leeza.

Message to Leeza.

Leeza is very nice and that ensures everyone likes her. But does it ensure they’ll perform? No. That takes real leadership and holding team members accountable.

Leadership is more than being nice and getting people to like you–and that’s another big lesson for teams.

To be fair, the task had to be accomplished quickly–there wasn’t exactly a lot of time for Leeza to hold them accountable– but like Geraldo, she simply discounted them (just in another way) and moved forward.

 Here’s the thing about playing nice with others–sometimes it’s not compatible with team leadership. Sometimes you simply have to let go of being a nice girl and get the work done.

On the other hand, team members had no incentive to help their leader win.  They are celebrities, not workers. But if Mr. Trump had attached to the win some sort of donation to team member charities, I suspect we’d have seen more investment in helping the team leader prevail.

Next week, we’ll find out which contestant won.  I don’t think Geraldo deserves the win.  And although I’ve loved Leeza all along, I just don’t think she has exemplified an effective team leader on this show.  So, I’ll be interested to see which one Trump chooses.

I’m interested in your thoughts about leadership and, if you watch the show, this episode.


15 comments on “Celebrity Apprentice leadership lessons
  1. I was disappointed about Kevin’s early departure too. He seems like such a nice and smart young man.
    Geraldo, ugghh I haven’t watched the episode yet but it’s a good bet I’m hoping Leeza wins.

  2. Gawd. Geraldo and his outsized ego are going to win. We can only hope that Kevin saves the day for Leeza.

  3. Great recap Carol. I’m rooting for Leeza!

  4. Carolann says:

    I wouldn’t doubt Geraldo might win. As annoying as he can be, he is a brilliant businessman indeed!

  5. Diane says:

    Reading your recaps almost makes me wish I had seen the episode. But I enjoy your recaps more than I probably would the show…

  6. This almost sounds worth watching…but I cannot bear to see or hear the Donald.

  7. I haven’t watched the show at all but I hope Leeza wins and proves that nice girls do finish first 🙂

  8. I’ll admit you had me at Geraldo’s selfie. Argh. Leadership is an interesting topic to me. I’ve been the boss and I think I did things well, and some not so well. I kind of did that woman thing…got too close to my younger female staff who felt like my daughters. I think that’s something we have to be careful about. Nurturing. Some is good in a leader, but you have to be able to make hard decisions. If you think about it, Hitler was a phenomenal leader. He was an evil psychopath with a horrible agenda, but he got a whole country behind him. Not sure what that says about successful leaders…but it says something!

  9. Janie Emaus says:

    I’ve watched a few episodes. But never really got into it this season.

  10. Tamy says:

    OMG, I had to stop reading half way through….have not watched that episode yet. I do love the show. It sure has been a schooling on human behavior, idiots, egos and clueless minds. Always something to learn. Will come back and read this again when I’ve watched the episode.

  11. I’ve only been watching it through your eyes only but I’ve learned quite alot. Geraldo makes me sick and someone should throw another chair at him! My father used to have one of many sayings and it was: “You can’t learn if your mouth is open.”

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