Message boards are buzzing in reaction to The Apprentice finale, which aired on Dec. 17. This article assumes you know the outcome, but if for some reason you do not, I’d stop reading if you want to be surprised.
In the live two-hour finale, Trump hired Randal Pinkett, which was what most people were expecting to happen. Randal was clearly the star of the show from the beginning, and it seemed pretty obvious in the last few weeks that Randal would be hired.
Trump pulled one of his supposed “surprise” moves and asked Randal if he, Trump, should also hire 23-year-old financial journalist Rebecca Jarvis. Randal’s response ignited message boards and forums with a shock blast: by saying no, Trump shouldn’t also hire Rebecca.
Over at Television Without Pity, the response to Randal’s decision was immediate: just about everyone who posted to the message board felt betrayed by Randal, and were furious with him. In reading many of the postings there, the word “dick” was used a lot.
But let’s step back for a second. We’re dealing with a television program in a specific genre, reality TV. Candidates are selected based on a number of factors. Psychologists are used to screen for specific personality types, and candidates tend to fall into specific personality archetypes (Randal, for instance, was perceived as a “good” guy, a “nice” guy and so on.) A team of story editors, writers and producers are on hand to craft a narrative from the hours of raw video taped of the candidates, which in turn become each episode of the series. The finished product has to be compelling, and viewers have to be able to identify with the candidates on some level.
Let’s look at the finale for a moment. Surely everyone involved knew that Trump would ask the winner if he should also pick the other person. I’ll bet a dollar that Randal and Rebecca both knew it would happen, and that they in all likelihood rehearsed a response. When Trump asked Randal if he should also hire Rebecca, Randal was quick with a response that, to me, did not sound spontaneous.
And now, Randal fans everywhere think he’s a jerk, an ass. Pick your adjective. But really, unless you know Randal Pinkett personally, you can’t trust how someone is portrayed in a reality show. Just because Randal was a nice guy on the show doesn’t mean that in real life he isn’t ruthless when it comes to business matters. It’s possible. Randal may have been an excellent actor, putting up a friendly front as a tactic to gain the respect of the other candidates in order to knock them down on his way to the top. The man is incredibly smart. I smell tactic. And it worked. Randal was already a successful man, a business leader and corporate speaker. Surely he earned more than $250,000 a year, which is what he’d get as Trump’s apprentice. So why do it? Why go through the audition process and participate in the whole experience if you don’t want the end result, which is fame. You want your name to be known by millions. Like I said, Randal is a smart man. He now has a platform to better himself and better his business. Rebecca will be fine. Trump may hire her anyway, outside the show. He’s done it before, apparently, with other candidates who were fired. If Trump doesn’t hire her, she can look forward to many opportunities, most likely in television and on the corporate speaker circuit.
And really, when you get down to it, why should two people be selected as the apprentice? There are no tie wins in reality TV. Would you expect the winner of, say, American Idol to also agree that the runner-up should be a winner, too? America’s Next Top Model with two top models? A two-way win on The Amazing Race? No, in the world of reality TV, there can be only one winner.Powered by Sidelines