Thursday, April 14, 2005

Solstice Brings a Long Day for Apprentice Hopefuls

If you saw The Apprentice today, you know Pontiac starts taking orders for the Solstice tomorrow. Sign me up! Sure, maybe I'm biased. I spent 18 years working for General Motors. I've heard some insider information about this new roadster. None of that would matter anyway. Even a blind man couldn't miss the beautiful curves of this gem. I've been planning to part with my 1991 Alfa Romeo Spider this summer and I'm searching for a suitable replacement. Pontiac definitely has a winner. I went on-line tonight and got an official early order ID. I'll be heading to the dealer tomorrow afternoon to see if that number lets me place an order.

I'm a die hard roadster fan. Sadly, I don't drive my Alfa much any more. The old Spider is showing its age now and the creeks are wearing on me. I love the Pininfarina body. I thought about seeking out a used Cadillac Allante as a replacement, but their prices are still rather high and they come with their own problems. I was alternatively hoping beyond hope that Alfa would re-enter the US market before I'd have to sell my Spider. There was lots of talk about GM bringing them back but nothing ever materialized.

I've been thinking about trading the Spider for something practical and fuel efficient. Usually I'm riding a motorcycle anyway. I just need four wheels during the occasional monsoon. I considered a Miata or MR2. The S2000 and Z3 are too pricey for me. I kind of gave up on getting another convertible, but the Solstice undercuts all of them and I might even qualify for an employee discount. Me like very much.

I almost forgot about The Apprentice. The teams had to make a brochure for the new car. The summer solstice is the longest day of the year. How appropriate that candidates worked through the night to deliver on this job.

This is a wildly subjective task that requires some aesthetic abilities. The key to winning here is recognizing your limitations and getting help where you need it. The only person that deserves any credit this week is Kendra who almost single-handedly churned out an acceptable booklet. While this is a valuable skill, I don't think it adds to her business credibility which has been eroding steadily.

You'd think I'd have lots of suggestions on this task. I've worked in the industry for half my life. I've an avid car buff. I've handled countless brochures and attended an array of auto shows. Despite all that, I really got nothing. Like I said, this task is about design and that's a natural talent. Certainly there's some obvious things to cover so you don't look like an idiot. Make sure your sample looks neat and clean. Show up on time and deliver your pitch with confidence. Ask for lots of input from people who do this for a living. Know everything about the car especially what makes it unique. Sell the sizzle, not the steak.

Here are my thoughts anyway. I might emphasize the convertible top with some kind of pop-top brochure. I'd make some kind of cut out picture of a faceless driver in the car that you can put your own photo behind and prop up on your desk to imagine yourself behind the wheel. Against each picture of the car I'd run some story about scenic stretches of roads in the US. This is a roadster right? Along with the car I might show items like driving gloves, ladies with scarves over their hair, and golf clubs. I might emphasize the affordable price tag though you have to be careful to avoid being perceived as "cheap." It would be something like, Pontiac puts the dream within your reach.

I liked the CD pocket and business card holder. I also liked Net Worth's attention to the dashboard plaque. Too bad they dropped the ball on that one. I might have included a little cardboard replica of that plaque in my brochure. People could pull it out and stick it to their fridge.

As happy as I am to see Chris finally gone (7 task losing streak?!) the fact is, he didn't deserve it this time. He was calm and responsible. He had good ideas. Alex totally blew it with the photos and Bren delivered uninspiring prose. What did Chris do wrong? I guess he just lost too many times. Alex and Bren are lucky that Chris was such an obvious target.

UPDATE: Angela went to the dealer on Friday and placed our order for a 2006 Solstice. There were 6 people in line in front of her. We were hoping to get one of the first 1000 cars. Word is, each dealer will only get 5 of the first 1000 so I suppose if 2 people drop out, we may get bumped up. Either way, we will at least get a car this year and we won't pay more than sticker. The dealer required a $1000 deposit.


  1. what is the e-mail address for the contest to win a pontiac solstice offered on the apprentice show

  2. Hey, what happened to the Apprentice weekly episode commentary? Did you start losing interest in the show like I did? What did you think about the final episode? I only watched the last few minutes of it, and I'm glad I didn't waste anymore time. I thought the court room setting was a little over the top. Trump isn't a freakin judge! I read an article on a few days ago talking about how the first 2 Apprentice winners have been a little disappointed in the caliber of the tasks Trump has had them do. Their jobs haven't been as important or as valuable in terms of job experience as they were led to believe. Instead, they say they spend a lot of time promoting Trump in various ways. I'm not going to watch the next season regularly, only if I don't feel like doing anything else besides watch TV when it's on!

  3. I don't see much to comment on regarding the latest Apprentice episodes. The end of the series always comes down to interviews and managing some event. It's difficult to come up with a 2 cent opinion on those tasks. I'm more interested in tasks regarding earning money or creating products. At the end, it becomes very subjective. However, of the two remaining candidates, I think Trump made the right choice with Kendra.