Riding Coattails: Talking In Circles

So long to my underdog. Actually, after this week’s episode, I’m not sure exactly why I was rooting for Markus at the beginning of the season. Maybe it was because I saw him as the nerd being ganged up on by the jocks. Or perhaps I just liked his highlights. However, on the latest task, Markus proved once and for all that he simply can’t be managed and is totally inflexible. I knew he was going to go sooner or later, but I didn’t anticipate that his last performance would be so lame.

Clay was certainly lame in his own right and most likely would have been fired if Adam hadn’t told Trump that he didn’t think Clay was anti-Semitic and Markus hadn’t been such a babbler in the boardroom. Clay has been skating on thin ice for a long time and will probably be one of the next to go. I found it interesting that after Markus was fired and Clay got into the elevator with Adam, he said, “Don’t talk to me.” I can understand that Clay was upset by the discussion in the boardroom, but it was Adam who really saved his ass from the Taxi Ride of Doom.

Oh, Adam. He tried, he really did, but the boy was in way over his head trying to lead a class about sex in the workplace at the Learning Annex. He admitted his inexperience and discomfort with the topic, which indicated that he should have pushed the team in another direction. And, as Carolyn pointed out, the class didn’t really teach anything. It just seemed to be a forum for Capital Edge to stand up in front of a group and say a bunch of B.S.

I hate to be too harsh on Capital Edge, since I’m a teacher myself and know how tricky it is, especially when one hasn’t done it before. However, I do know that it’s important to be organized, keep things simple, and keep the dynamic moving. Adam and company didn’t do any of that. In fact, it seemed as though they were trying to recreate some dumbed down version of sex seminars Tom Cruise’s character presented in Magnolia. They probably would have been more successful if they’d worn leather vests.

As for Team Excel, they were being led by Mr. Secret Sauce himself, Randal. The man has only been on a losing team twice and has won twice as project manager. I’d be curious to know if Randal has any weaknesses at all, other than Brian’s sideline accusations that he can be a bit too analytical. It didn’t matter, since Randal was a kick-ass presenter for the team’s class on standing out. True, the topic seemed a bit fluffy, but Randal made it a success by keeping it simple and making the class interactive and lively. I imagine that Randal’s significant experience in academia has given him the chance to teach before, so he knew what he was doing.

Of course, having superstar Marshawn backing him up certainly didn’t hurt, either. I maintain that Marshawn’s experience competing for Miss America (and getting third runner up) in 2001 prepared her well for The Apprentice. She knows how to handle high pressure situations and stay articulate and focused. She also tends to shy away from the drama surrounding group politics, just rolling up her sleeves and getting things done. Unless something goes seriously wrong, I think Marshawn and Randal will be sitting next to each other as the final two.

Unless Alla edges one of them out. Alla is another play that seems to unbreakable at this point. Although she’s been involved in a few conflicts (most recently with Clay), Alla manages to keep her cool and stay on task. I imagine that dealing with her four children has trained her well to tell whiners like Clay to chill. Alla is very strong and will probably stay in the running for a while.

Getting back to the episode, I was a bit disappointed with the way it began, watching the contestants mill around the kitchen table waiting for someone to come back from the boardroom. I knew the producers would just let them sit there and wonder, but it would have been more interesting if the editors had included more comments from the remaining candidates regarding their reactions to the mass firing of Josh, James, Mark, and Jennifer. Brian was the only one who really had anything to say about it (he was devastated), and Marshawn asked Trump if it was true that they really weren’t coming back. OK, so what did everyone else think? I mean, it was a huge twist this season, and things kept rolling right along this episode as though nothing had happened.

The other point that was not addressed during this episode was the tiny margin by which Excel actually won this task. Students in the Learning Annex classes filled out comment cards and rated the classes. On a ten-point scale, Excel got an average rating of 7.07, while Capital Edge received a 6.98. However, when Carolyn and George reported the results to the Donald, they only read off positive comments about Excel’s performance and negative ones regarding Capital Edge. Again, this was another subjective task, so it was hard to say how students interpreted that 10-point scale, but Excel didn’t exactly decimate Capital Edge. They did, however, manage to avoid offending people, which is probably more important when all is said and done.

One lingering question: what the hell was Markus doing with that yo-yo when Clay was talking about ass slapping?