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Examing Pseudo-Reality: The Apprentice finale

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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.

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  • http://breathoffreshink.blogspot.com Chris Evans

    Okay, first of all…it doesn’t make any sense to say there can only be one Apprentice. Are we forgetting that Randall is Apprentice #4? As many businesses as Donald Trump owns, undoubtedly there would have been a place for Rebecca. What Randall did is honestly ruthless and appalling. You could tell by the look on Rebecca’s face that she did NOT approve of what Randall had done and not just because she was losing out on a big business opportunity, but obviously also because she felt betrayed. Yes, Randall, you ARE the…ehm…4th Apprentice…but what does everyone think of you now?

  • Joe

    Black men usually favor “brothers” and “sisters.” Had Rebecca been African-American, I have no doubt that Randal would have encouraged Trump to hire her as well. Instead, Randal indulged his considerable racism and revealed himself to be so incredibly and foolishly selfish.

  • http://gratefuldread.net Natalie Davis

    I think he made the right choice. He looked like a jerk doing it, but he was right. For 13 weeks, these people worked to win – not to tie. On The Amazing Race, the second-place team was just behind the winners. Should the champs share their prize and glory? The move would have devalued the competition. Or, as Randal told Black Enterprise, “You wouldn’t ask the gold medalist in the Olympics to share with the silver medalist. Unfortunately for those that wanted to see a double hiring or see Rebecca win, I ended up being the bearer of bad news. However, at the end of day all I did was give Mr. Trump my recommendation. It was ultimately his decision to not hire Rebecca.”

    Trump can hire Rebecca at another time – doing so during Randal’s moment of triumph was just wrong. I didn’t see Trump trying to dilute Bill Rancic’s moment, to halve his spotlight. Or Kelly Perdew’s. Or Kendra Todd’s.

    Personally, I’ll bet Trump approves of what Randal did on some level. Business is about winning – to do it successfully one must be more than a nice guy. Throughout the 13-week “interview,” Randal showed himself to be a nice person who was smart, capable and experienced, but many criticized him for lacking ruthlessness and a killer instinct. Now Trump knows Randal is tough, non-nonsense, and determined to win.

    In a way, Randal’s controversial move proves that the Donald picked the best candidate. And yes, it is the Apprentice. Not the Appren-tie.

  • Tom Cruz

    RANDALL KNEW AHEAD OF TIME ABOUT THE QUESTION

    if you watch the ending again, randall says “mr trump ask any of the other contestants who the SOLE and SINGLE apprentice should be” dude KNEW before hand what was going on. someone clued him in, and he had a reply all ready for it. he was obviously heated before hand.

  • Gloria

    It is amazing to me that in this day and time, racism is still a factor when determing how someone should react when asked if he wishes to dillute his accomplishment or not. That is in essence what Randall was asked to do. While I also have a profound respect for Rebecca and her accomplishments why must the brother dillute his achievement simply because she gave a valiant effort to win JUST AS RANDALL DID? He was extremely complimentary of her success but that did not mean that he must share his does it? As for the person who mentioned that he would have given more leaway to a quote “brotha or sistah” , what nonsense!!!!!!!!! Randall appears to be a successful man and he obviously did not get success by choosing unqualified people in his environment simply because they were “brothas and sistas”. Gimme a break

  • RogerMDillon

    How does giving a Rebecca an apprenticeship count as a tie? They weren’t going to work on the same project together tied at the hip. Randal won, yet showed poor judgement in not wanting to hire a comptent employee in the Trump organization. Obviously, Trump can have more than one apprentice at a time since this was the 4th series.

    It wouldn’t have diluted anything and I’m sure the producers would have liked to have seen it. Much better to have Randal’s generosity talked about than his selfishness.

    No one knows one way or the other what Randal would have done if Marshawn had been in Rebecca’s place.

  • jan

    For heaven’s sake! By what factual basis is Rebecca equal or nearly equal to Randal in management ability or competence? Those of you who think that Rebecca is on the same level as Randal either have very low standards or didn’t watch all 13 episodes.

    Rebecca lost every task in which she was PM, except the one where she was in a 2-person team with Randal and he was instrumental in helping her to win that task. Not to mention that the last task was about raising money for the charity and not only did Rebecca not raise ANY money, but at the event her charity got one measly sign and an envelope in the gift bag! That’s it. Randal’s sponsor told him not to ask the bigwigs for money too but he ignored them. Also, her team once traded her because she was a weak player. ——- If you can ignore all those facts and still look at someone with such a terrible performance record and say they are equal to someone like Randal who was UNDEFEATED as PM, then it’s clear you are full of crap.

    Then you say that “Randal would have lost nothing by hiring Rebecca.” Give me a break – he would have lost his self-respect. Since no other apprentice winner was asked that question, it was inappropriate to ask Randal, especially for such an inferior opponent. Also, Randal wasn’t hired as VP of Trump’s Personnel Department. If Trump still thought Rebecca was pretty enough to hire despite her losing record, then he was free to hire her after the show. It was inappropriate for him to raise the matter when he did.

    The only reason Rebecca was in the finale was because Trump went on a firing rampage this season and fired all of Randal’s real competition. She made it to the final 2 by sheer luck, not ability.

  • RogerMDillon

    Who said Rebecca was Randal’s equal? With that being said was it not obvious that Trump was interested in her for an apprenticeship role? I trust his judgement since he had more experience with her over the opinion of someone who watched the show on TV.

    So what if Randal won more, he was given better teams to lead. Rebecca’s team traded her because they were catty and didn’t like her, not because she was a weak player. Should I trust the opinion of a Russian stripper? Rebecca had all the negatives you cite, yet Trump was still willing to offer her a job. Do you think he is full of crap?

    Maybe you aren’t aware of it, but it’s Trump’s show and he can do whatever he likes with it. This idea of something being inappropriate for a reality show is complete nonsense. If Randal was so offended by Trump’s question, maybe he should show some self-respect and refuse the position. He’s already lost a good deal of the audience’s respect.

    Whether you agree with his decision or not, he has created a lot of negativity towards himself, which is sure to affect his future with the Trump organization and beyond.

  • Robert Knopf

    It was completely within Randal’s rights to recommend to Donald Trump that he not hire Rebecca; it simply was a good business move. Had he recommended the hire, his stock would be higher than ever. As it is, Rebecca will undoubtedly be flooded with offers to work for other companies. And Randal? He’s stuck working for Trump. I think Rebecca wins hands down.

  • A.S.

    IT’S A SAD THING THAT BECAUSE OF WHO WON AND THE WINNER’S RESPONSE TO MR. TRUMPS QUESTION THAT RACE HAS BECOME AN ISSUE. COULD IT NOT HAVE BEEN A RACE ISSUE JUST BECAUSE MR. TRUMP ASKED MR. PINKETT SUCH A QUESTION? MR. TRUMP HIMSELF TOUTED THE MANY QUALIFICATIONS OF MR. PINKETT. I WOULD LOVED TO HAVE SEEN BOTH HIRED BUT IN THE END MR. PINKETT WAS RIGHT. THIS WAS A COMPETITION. WINNER TAKE ALL.NEXT SEASON, MAKE THE RULES CLEAR AND DON’T CHANGE THEM AS WE GO ALONG. MS. JARVIS, I BELIEVE WILL LAND ON HER FEET (JUST FROM EXPOSURE ALONE.). I’D LOVE TO KNOW WHAT HER SPIN ON THE WHOLE THING IS. WOULD SHE HAVE DONE THE SAME AS MR. PINKETT? WE ALL WOULD LIKE TO BELIEVE THAT THE NICENESS OF BOTH THAT MAYBE SHE WOULD HAVE AGREED TO BRING HIM IN AS WE HAD EXPECTED MR. PINKET TO DO. MAYBE SHE WOULD HAVE BEEN ALL SENTIMENTAL AND FRIENDLY BUT IN THE END, THIS WAS A COMPETITION. ON THE TODAY SHOW AFTER MR. PINKETT GAVE HIS REASON FOR NOT AGREEING TO HIRE MS. JARVIS, MR. TRUMP’S COMMENTS? “HE’S TOUGH” SAID WITH RESPECT. I DON’T THINK IT WAS RIGHT FOR MR. TRUMP TO ASK MR. PINKETT WHETHER OR NOT TO ALSO HIRE MS. JARVIS BUT I’M GLAD HE HAD ENOUGH RESPECT FOR MR. PINKETT NOT TO OVERIDE MR. PINKETT’S ANSWER ON NATIONAL TV.

  • RogerMDillon

    “MAKE THE RULES CLEAR AND DON’T CHANGE THEM AS WE GO ALONG.”

    Are you not aware that it’s a television show. The rules are that things can change however Trump and the producers see fit.

  • Jason

    So what, Randall got a little excited, something we haven’t seen him ever do. Can you honestly say that you would have not done the same. Its easy to sit back and be a Monday Morning Quarterback. You know people did the same thing to Howard Dean during the Democratic Primaries. All the Monday morning quarterbacks trashed him after he got a little excited during the convention. Look what were stuck with now!!!!! Americans, how easily we forget!!!

    I really hope that Randall nor Rebecca read any of the awful things people are saying about the Finale. On the show it appeared that both of them had tremendous respect for one another and I hope it continues. So many of the reviews and comments that I reading are extremely sympathetic to Rebecca. Many people seem to feel that she got the short end of the stick and I kinda understand how they feel. We always want to root for the underdog. However, why not allow Randall to have his day. He played a great game of chess in this series and why shouldn’t he be rewarded. Remember, he was undefeated. How many of those has Trump had on this show? In every game there is a winner and a loser, although you can have a tie. But this was not a tie.

    Also, Donald Trump does not need Randall’s approval to hire anybody. He is the boss of the Trump organization and he can hire and fire whoever he wants. Donald Trump has had plenty of other talented candidates on his previous shows and he has never asked any of the previous winners to share the prize. Why now? I encourage everyone to look at The Apprentice website and check out the bios of all the candidates before you shed so many tears for Rebecca. SHE DOESN’T HAVE A SHABBY RESUME AT ALL!!!!! She graduated with honors from the University of Chicago and has already made a mark in the financial world. She’s only 23. She’s got a long and bright road ahead of her and if there is anything that we see from many of these reality shows, the runner up really takes the prize in many instances.

    I’ve read a lot of comments about how selfish Randall turned out to be. Based on his conduct on the show and the warmth and respect that many people seem to have for him I don’t think that he will leave anyone behind. Even Donald Trump commented time and time again about what a nice person Randall is and how many people share the same warmth and enthusiasm for him. Its so sad to hear all these negative comments. Hey, for the past seasons that The Apprentice has aired Donald Trump says that there will only be “One Apprentice” at the end. This time its Randall. If any candidate has earned it out of all the seasons its Randall. I hope that Rebecca nor Randall are reading any of this horrible things and I hope that they continue to hold one another in the highest of esteem.

  • Gohan

    Based on watching all episodes of the apprentice I don’t blame Randall for not wishing to share the title with Rebecca. Although everyone acts as if Rebecca deserves to be co Apprenctice I do not see how anyone could make that receommendation or know what possessed Trump to suggest that Randall share the title with Rebecca. While Rebecca has spunk, she had little else. She was lousy as a project manager and I believe she would have sold out Randall at a moment’s notice. As a matter of fact she tried to improve her standing at his cost several times.

    For example, in week 7 the teams had to create an adult learning class for the Learning Annex. After Randall as project lead decided the course they would follow Brian and Rebecca were filmed saying things such as “we’re so screwed.” Not exactly supportive. Second, in Week 9, with Rebecca as project lead, she accussed Randall of not being creative on their XM cafe project, although everyone know Clay was going to bite the dust. I know she was trying to improve her standing at Randall’s expense. Again, another example of not being supportive, eh?
    Finally, in Week 11 when she won as project manager, it was Randall who suggested the format for their commcercial. Moreover, it was Randall who was watching the filming rather than Rebecca who was the director who noticed the hired actors were not showint the necessary emotion and then stepped in front of the camera to save her behind and help her record her first and only win.
    I will give her credit for suggesting stealing the megaphones that the other team had reserved in week 10. But I guess this says more about her character. Do what it takes to win baby. Moreover, when questioned on Larry King Randall seemed like he would have not done this given a second chance, Rebecca thought it was still okay.

    I only point out these examples because they suggest her true character. And I think Alla was correct when she said Rebecca had shown her nothing. Moreover, Rebecca probably set women back ages by showing her genuine satisfaction with Trump’s chauvinistic musings about her beauty.

    Even when she listed her accomplishments they paled in comparison to Randall’s. So what she started a charity when she was 15. Randall started his first business when he was a college student and began channeling those funds into charities, which he continues to support today. Of course unlike Rebecca who touted her meager accomplishments Randall did not mention his, probaqbly because the show is too short. But you can find them on his website. http://WWW.RandallPinkett.com.

    Anyone Rebecca supporters who read the website might become a little more convinced about who deserved to win and why Randall’s answer was appropriate.

  • http://dumpsterbust.blogspot.com/ Eric Berlin

    Personally, I think Rebecca leaned (ha ha) a bit too much on her broken angle when defending her position as a potential Apprentice. It could be that she was just overwhelmed by Randal’s opulent resume and qualifications. Rebecca’s a 23-year old financial journalist, a pretty damned impressive position compared to her age group!

  • http://EricaBlair Erica Blair

    Let’s look at the video tape shall we people?

    1) Rebecca = 1-2 record with win largely supported by Randall
    2) Randall = 3-0 record-having been traded numerous times between teams as a “winner”
    3) Rebecca = showed disloyalty when she and Brian bashed Randall behind his back during the Learning Annex project (for those of you who think Randall treated his “friend” badly)
    4) Randall took the high road “even” when Rebecca “frontstabbed” not backstabbed him in the boardroom after her loss with XM Radio (what a great friend she was)
    5) Rebecca defended a renegade teammate (Toral) whom everyone despised and against Trumps advice
    6) Randall had no combative issues with any of his team mates each clammoring for the opportunity to work with him
    7) Rebecca had an over inflated opinion of herself –in that she truly believed that she was on the same level as this man with clearly more experience–perhaps this is why her charity made no $$ at all?? who knows (shrug)

    There was clearly no choice to be made in this case in that Rebecca would be a stellar candidate for the position of Project Assistant to Randall’s Project Manager — but not as a leader and certainly not as his equal.

    Does this all boil down to racism? I’m not really sure–but what I am learning from reading the comments posted here, is that the sympathetic view lies within our own comfort zone.

    No one here is saying Randall was undeserving, just that he was not nice enough. How nice does he need to be to be accepted as viable-and was your level of respect or his “place” really his goal?

    Seems he was respectful enough for all the weeks he carried Miss Rebecca’s bags–even after being stabbed in the “front” —

    Just a thought–

  • Disappointed in Indiana

    Corporate America strkes again. Black man, White woman. Hmmm….Meet AA goals with both but should we put a Black man in charge? Hmmm..
    The fantasy was fun until a Black man was selected. For the first time ever ..Trump was wishy-washy.
    I wonder why? Not much has changed in America, has it?

  • Mr. BEREAL ABOUT IT

    Why was Qwame (OH YES..REMEMBER HIM?) – Let me refresh memories…he was 1 of TWO remaining when Trump had to make his decision in an earlier show….FOR THE RECORD; Has it ever crossed the minds of all the NOW “Randall Haters” that Qwame was not afforded the opportunity to “Piggy-Back” the WINNER’S TITLE?

    Be REAL people – Rules are Rules; If I had sacrificed, given my all and had a PERFECT Record as PM; I would not have wanted to share the spotlight either. It was Randall’s night & Randall’s night alone!

    Be FAIR PEOPLE!

    Business is Business!!!

  • REMEMBER THIS: “CLASSIC”

    Randall – “Rebecca writes about business…I run business!!!!”

    I’ll never forget it – Thanks Randall!

    CLASSIC CLASSIC CLASSIC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Blueboy

    Relax people. Rebecca Jarvis has received numerous offers that could potentially be better in the long run than the Trump Org. … One of the offers coming from Yahoo.

    Rebecca will be fine.

  • Justice or Just Us?

    I am now convinced about White America. Today, Trump made a statement that only one person could be this year’s Apprentice (Yet, he said it was very close and he would like to hire both). Last year, when Randall won the Apprentice, Trump quickly tried to distroy Randall party by asking if he should hire Rebecca. Where is the concern to hire two Apprentices this year? Or is it only a concern when a Black man wins?

  • Moon

    What’s missing is the fact that none of the apprentices really run Tump businesses when they win. The Apprentice role is to be a PR machine for the Trump organization. After firing multiple people multiple times last season it would ahve been a great conclusion to hire two people. Randall was/is a better business man but Rebecca would have been a really strong canidate for promoting the Trump organization. Randall wanted the glory all for himself. If he beeda true leader he would ahve recognized that Rebecca could have been a strong addition to the Trump team. I sure Trump also wanted the additional media buzz that hiring both of them would have created. Randall’s approval rating was so low we haven’t seen him do anything since he got the job. I think the team of them (R&R)would have been stronger than each one individually. Randall was so desperate for positive exposure that he resorted to pimping his website. That’s something I would have expected someone like Brent to do.

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