Sunday, February 6, 2005

Can an Apprentice Break Rules?

The last episode of The Apprentice featured one of many tasks that required creating buzz. I'm dumbfounded that nobody leveraged the internet to do that job. I can go to Google, search for "blog apprentice" and churn up over 250,000 hits. Why wasn't anybody on those blogs posting comments the night before, urging people to come out to their events? Why limit it geographically to a park in NYC? How about a 1 day, worldwide contest? Did anybody call newspapers and TV stations? Honestly I think they could have gotten a bigger turn out just by walking down the street saying, we're filming The Apprentice over there today. Why give away anything at all? Put the money into entertainment and advertising.

In the second season, Sandy used to promote their bridal salon. The team bulk e-mailed 23,000 brides to show up for their one day sale. It worked brilliantly and was probably the single overwhelming factor in the team's win. Why hasn't anybody tried anything like that again?

There must be some rules that we never hear. Nobody ever attempts to leverage the TV show itself when tasked with promotional jobs. In the first season, one of the teams sold advertising to put on their pedicabs. Whatever they charged it was too little. Why not just promise to wear UPS uniforms or something? All you need is one major corporate sponsor to realize such a stunt would put their brand in front of millions of TV viewers.

Carolyn lambasted Ivana for her antics selling candy bars. Were you selling candy bars or something else, she asked. Shouldn't you ask the same question to Versacorp for selling pedicab ads? Were they making money managing pedicabs or by selling advertising? More to the point, did Marquis Jet pay so much for advertising because it would be displayed on a few pedicabs for a day or because they knew it would appear on national TV? I still insist that, had Ivana won the task, she would have been praised for the killer idea and Jennifer would have gone home.

I'm befuddled by the tasks that involve earning the highest revenue rather than the highest profit. We saw it in season one when the teams had to sell Trump Ice and again in season 3 when tasked with selling burgers. This seems so stupidly obvious to me. Sell burgers for $0.50 each. Raise the prices on the other burgers to $3.00. In fact, take them off the menu completely using a two-for-one deal. Buy a Western Burger for $1.00 and get a Whopper for free! You wouldn't make a lot of profit but you'd sure get a lot of revenue credited to your burger. Is it forbidden to sell them at a loss? Then steal the profit margin from something else. Fountain drinks are by far the highest profit item. The cup costs more than the soda. Give away a free drink with the Western Burger. Soda profits would go down but you'd still be making a profit overall and again, the revenue credit goes to the burger.

The thing that most bothers me is that you never see anybody asking for outside help. If I were going to be on this show, I'd start blogging about it months in advance. I'd enlist an army of volunteers that I could call on to help out or just feed me ideas when I needed them. How about instant market surveys? OK, nothing so sophisticated then, I'd just call my mom and ask her to buy $1000 worth of hamburgers from me. Again, somehow this must be against the rules of the show.

The first season had published rules for each task. Even these seemed to leave out details because I haven't proposed anything that explicitly breaks those rules. Notice that Lemonade Empire says you can use any resource you want as long as you are selling lemonade. Selling lemonade to my friends and family doesn't seem to be against the rules. I can't find similar dossiers for seasons 2 and 3 but clearly some things are being left out.

1 comment:

  1. I found published rules for Season 3. Here is The Burger King Task. Looking at the list, I don't see anything baring selling to your friends. That still seems like the easiest way to get a thousand dollars in sales.