Murtzcellanious: Murtz Jaffer Talks To Apprentice 2\'s Jen Massey

It was a pleasure to talk to Apprentice 2’s runner-up Jen Massey. She was open about many subjects.


Murtz Jaffer: So I have to ask the question that everyone wants the answer to. Why do you think that you lost to Kelly?

Jen Massey: I think Kelly and I were both qualified to win; however, we are very different candidates. He’s male, I’m female; he’s 37, I’m 30; he went to West Point, I went to Princeton; I’m an attorney, he develops web sites. It’s like comparing apples and oranges. Ultimately Mr. Trump had to pick the person with the criteria he felt were most suited to the Trump Organization, and that person was Kelly.

MJ: You seemed to really get a bad deal with the editing, especially at the finale. Can you elaborate on this and was there anything that we didn’t see?

JM: When you go on a reality show, you have to expect a certain amount of creative editing. Everything is fair game!

But, personally, I thought the finale was kind of a sad exhibition and a turn-off for a lot of viewers. I wish that the producers had stayed true to the business theme of the show. Many people have written me and said the same thing. I loved the finale in Season I. I thought it was fun and positive, a stark contrast to the finale for Season II. I was startled by some of Mr. Trump’s comments, particularly in regards to my likeability. I have stayed friends with most of the cast, with the exception of a few. I don’t think his comments were steeped in truth or “reality,” or were even relevant in a business competition.

As to the season in general, you don’t see the fun side of my personality, and you don’t see that I was encouraged to defend myself in the boardroom. I was constantly being told that I needed to defend myself and my contributions. It became very frustrating, because I knew that I was working hard and contributing in each of the tasks. Looking back, I realize that I was put on the defensive for a reason–to showcase my skills in the boardroom! I think the producers realized early on that I am quick on my feet and willing to defend myself and others, and they wanted to create some spicy dynamics in front of Mr. Trump.

Another example of getting a “bad deal” with editing was on the Levi’s task. I couldn’t believe that my contributions were simply not shown, and instead, I was made to look like I stole an idea. Nothing could have been further from the truth. In reality, I took the initiative to meet with the Levi’s executives to research their company and the goals they were trying to achieve in creating an in-store promotional guide. I was also charged with presenting our promotional guide, and conducting the Q&A session following the presentation. Interestingly, none of my 10 minute presentation was shown. Instead, my response to Mr. Hansen’s question made it appear as though I randomly jumped in to say something. Even so, if you listen to my response, I said “we” and not “I” since I was speaking on behalf of the team. I have no idea where Ivana came up with the notion that I was stealing her idea, but the producers decided to take her one-sided version of events and run with it.

MJ: Increasingly, it appears that sex appeal is becoming a major part of the show. You used it for the chocolate challenge and Ivana obviously ‘raised the bar’ (pun intended). What do you think about the role that sex has in the workplace and does it provide any sort of an advantage?

JM: I don’t think that Sandy and I used sex to sell in the M&Ms task. I came up with the idea of dressing as twins in matching outfits as a gimmick to help sell the bars–I wanted us to look cute and appealing to talk to. It was an 80 degree day and we were outside selling, so we wore matching red tank tops and jeans skirts. My skirt came down to my knees! We sold equal amounts of bars to families and children as we did to men. So, I think our outfits and gimmick had universal appeal.

Ivana, on the other hand, resorted to embarrassing tactics to sell her bars when she pulled down her skirt. I don’t think that kind of behavior should be encouraged or endorsed. She did a disservice to women everywhere.

MJ: I am sure that there are many things that the audience didn’t see. Can you tell us something funny that we weren’t privy to?

JM: In the dog washing task, I was the project manager and determined to win. In the middle of a lull in washing, I realized that we would need to diversify our service offerings if we were going to clinch a victory. I called a dog groomer to meet me in the park, to teach me how to clip dog toenails. Lucky me–my very first customer was a 150 pound St. Bernard. As soon as I took hold of his paw, he tackled me and pinned me to the muddy ground. I was left gasping for my breath and covered in mud! I announced to the St. Bernard that he would not be getting his nails clipped that day, and I told my team that from that point on, I would only be taking “clients” under 100 pounds.

Another thing you weren’t privy to… after completing the final task, I returned to the suite exhausted but unable to sleep. After watching the NBA guys, I was inspired to test out my skills on the suite’s basketball court. I swished three in a row!

MJ: Who is the person that you liked the most, the person that you liked the least, and the person that you would hire?

JM: I keep in touch with Raj, John, Andy, Pamela, Bradford, Stacy J. and Jen C. Last week I had dinner with Raj and John on Tuesday night in California, then dinner with Brad and Stacy on Wednesday night in NYC. It’s fun to see them because we shared such a unique (read: bizarre!) experience together. I would hire any of them–they’re all good people with good hearts.

I don’t think I’ll be in touch with Ivana. Her personal comments about me (and
other candidates) were over the top.

MJ: Do you feel like you were portrayed as a good guy or a bad girl on the
show?

JM: I think I was portrayed as a strong, determined, professional woman.

MJ: Your resume is unquestionable. Why would someone so qualified to work in so many places want to go on the Apprentice? What’s the motivation?

JM: First and foremost, I knew that taping the show would be a fun diversion from my day-to day life as an attorney and businesswoman. I love the challenge of something new and different, and I wanted to test my own mettle–can I live with 17 other people under strange circumstances while working with companies in varying industries and succeed? I was approaching the milestone of my 30th birthday and wanted to be taken out of my comfort zone a bit to see what I could do and how I would perform. Also, I knew that having my credentials and experience featured on national television for 16 weeks would open a lot of doors for me. Instead of seeking out opportunities, I am now being sought after. The miracle of television!

MJ: Another facet of your ‘character’ on the show was that you seemed to not hold any punches when pointing out the flaws that the other candidates had. Have you always been so straightforward?

JM: I tried to frame any criticism as a business observation, not as a personal comment about another candidate. I think that making personal comments about another candidate is mean-spirited, both on television and in the real world.

Editing can also make comments seem more harsh than they were intended. For example, a statement can be taken out of context and made to sound different than it sounds when you hear the other statements the speaker made. Or, what frequently happened in the boardroom, hours of footage would be condensed to just a few minutes. So the viewer misses the natural escalation of the debate, and sees just the culminating, final few minutes, which can make the comments sound overly harsh and direct.

But, ultimately, I believe in being direct and honest with people. I wouldn’t say something behind someone’s back that I wouldn’t say to their face. Unfortunately, I didn’t always get the same courtesy! I think that backstabbing is a huge threat to the trust and professionalism that needs to exist in a workplace.

MJ: Is the Jennifer Massey that we saw on the show, the same Jennifer Massey outside of it?

JM: You saw the professional, determined side of me that is present when I am involved in a tough negotiation or defending a client in court. In those instances, it’s not good to show weakness or fear. You didn’t see the softer side of me, and the fun, joking part of my personality that is such an important part of my personal and professional interactions. Those who know me in my personal life or in the workplace know that I’m only serious when I need to be. I love to joke, and we laughed a lot while taping the show, but you simply don’t see that. They wanted to portray me as the tough, barracuda lawyer, and the laughter would not
have fit that image.

MJ: Many people may not know that you are married. Was this intentional and can you tell us a bit about your personal life.

JM: I have been married for two years to a fantastic guy who has been very supportive of this whole experience. I spent a lot of time talking about my husband when we were taping the show, but none of that made it to air. I don’t know if that was intentional on the producers’ part, but I do know that showing me talking about my husband would have humanized me, and I don’t know if that is something the producers wanted to do! Maybe showing that side of me would have been too much of contrast with the “tough gal” image they were creating? Hmmm…

In my personal life, I love to spend time with my husband hiking, biking, kayaking and skiing. We take a lot of road trips, particularly to Lake Tahoe. We also love to take long walks around gorgeous San Francisco. I am blessed to have many great friends in this city, and enjoy having dinner or coffee with them in SF’s restaurants and cafes.

MJ: How chaotic was that final challenge and do you regret any of the team members that you selected?

JM: The final challenge was one of the most daunting tasks I’ve ever faced. When I read through the dossier and realized what I had ahead of me, I wondered if I should just jump on the next plane for Fiji! Kidding aside, I didn’t sleep for three days, and ran almost the entire time. I had 48 hours to convert an ice hockey rink into a basketball court, create a VIP players’ lounge with Xboxes, plasma televisions, rented furniture and catered food, and create a VIP reception following the game complete with a silent auction, decorations and lunch. I also had to contact and make arrangements with 12 corporate sponsors, create a schedule and timeline for the game and half time entertainment, coordinate the NBA players’ travel, create a silent auction, and arrange seating for 1000 people. The scope and magnitude of the task felt overwhelming. It made me laugh to watch the footage of that task as Pamela pondered why I wasn’t handling the actual NBA game myself. There was simply no way I could have run the game while being available for all of the other venues–the VIP lounge and the VIP reception, which started immediately after the game. Ultimately as a project manager, you have to be available to put out all of the fires “behind the scenes” and not chained to one specific task. Because our facility was so large and the events were spread out among different venues, my team didn’t realize the enormity of what I was dealing with and the amount of work I had to do.

In the middle of preparing for the event, two women from one of our corporate sponsors, Genworth, showed up unannounced and accused me of lying about our tight timeline. Mere hours after we had first arrived at the facility, they wanted to know why things were not fully prepared. They insisted that I had had weeks to prepare. I couldn’t believe it! Later that night, less than 12 hours before our event was to begin, our emcee cancelled. Luckily I had a back-up plan and decided to ask David Stern, Commissioner of the NBA, to emcee instead. At the end, everything went off without a hitch…but not without a lot of people angling to make it difficult for me.

I wouldn’t change my team in hindsight…they worked hard and we were in good spirits for most of the task. Editing showed only part of the story. The other part was that we had a good time together, and the team appreciated my leadership style, which allowed them to shine. And when they watched the final task, my team really appreciated how hard I was working.

MJ I am sure you have been swamped with opportunities now that the show is over, can you tell us about any of them.

JM: I have received a lot of interest from producers to work as a host or as a legal/current events commentator. So far I have appeared on Fox News, Court TV and MSNBC, among others. I am also interested in some of the business opportunities that have emerged following the finale. And I am looking into developing a line of professional clothing for women. I have heard from so many women who liked my clothing on the show, and want to buy fashionable clothes for themselves at an affordable price.

Ultimately I want to stay true to my credentials and experience, and I will only take those opportunities that enhance the professional image I have worked hard to achieve.

MJ: It is great that you will be writing at Inside Pulse. Can you shed a little more light on this?

JM: Thank you for inviting me to be a part of the Inside Pulse staff…I am happy to be here! I will be writing a weekly column about the show, and keeping everyone updated on what I am doing as well. Feel free to check out my website, at www.jenmassey.com!

MJ: So come on… does the ‘street smarts’ team have any chance?

JM: Absolutely. But they will have to show that they possess raw intelligence as well. A combination of raw intelligence and natural business intuition would be deadly!

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