to Naked Ambition101 - 17th April 2004
The Sydney Morning Herald)
As case studies go, it is admittedly a bit of a deviation
from standard business school fare. No reams of data,
and backbiting tends to win.
at business schools across the country these days,
Donald Trump's The Apprentice is all the rage, working
its way into classroom discussions on everything from
fair play in negotiations to how to win customers
- or even how Donald should style his hair.
teach from the Harvard Business School cases; they're
not as exciting as what's on The Apprentice,"
said Beth Goldstein, an adjunct professor at Brandeis
University's International Business School who frequently
brings up the show in her consulting class. "If
there's a lesson on a recent Trump, it can become
integrated in the whole learning opportunity."
an entire management class at the University of Washington
in Seattle that is devoted to the show, complete with
an hour-long question and answer session with one
of Trump's assistants. At Georgetown University, the
accounting and finance faculty, who usually turn up
their noses at other reality shows like Survivor,
are eagerly rehashing The Apprentice episodes in hallways
and have even formed a pool to guess the winner.
the finale of The Apprentice, which screened on Thursday
night in the US, it was down to the final two: the
Ivy League Kwame and self-made Bill duking it out
to decide who would win the $US250,000 ($337,000)-a-year
position as one of Trump's assistants (for those who
care - Bill got the chocolates). But the real lessons
will be played out in classrooms during the coming
weeks, as business professors dissect the winner to
determine why he rose to the top.
Boston College's Carroll School of Management this
week, Professor Gregory Stoller launched into a discussion
on the nuts and bolts of Massachusetts real estate
law, laced with terms such as "lis pendens,"
"encumbrance," and "determination of
applicability". Facing his entrepreneurial finance
class, he paused a moment for effect.
many people watch The Apprentice?" he asked about
two dozen students taking notes or tapping on laptops.
He briefly recounted a recent episode in which one
character used aggressive negotiating tactics to wrest
an apartment he wanted away from the other team's
said, 'Whatever you want is what I want'," Stoller
said. "Is that unethical? Or is that just good
the centre of the classroom, a student shot back,
"It's nasty, but I think it's ethical."
lesson, the professor said later in the discussion,
is that there's a fine line between aggression and
illegality. It's OK to be tough, he said, but boundaries
should always be respected.
a fine line between being like Omarosa in The Apprentice
and respecting the boundaries," Stoller said,
referring to the show's divisive character who has
alternately shirked her work, argued with her teammates,
or bungled the assignment altogether.
Apprentice works like a 15-part job interview. The
candidates are divided into teams, then asked to complete
various tasks. Members of the losing team have to
come to Trump's boardroom, where one will be fired.
one early episode, Trump asked the teams to create
an ad campaign for a private jet company. Immediately,
the all-female team asked for a meeting with the company's
executives. But the male team decided that they did
not have enough time.
watching the episode at home, Professor Goldstein
found herself screaming at the doll-size men on her
television set: "We don't need to talk to the
client? He's going to get fired!"
eight-year-old son looked at his mother and began
to laugh. But within the hour, Trump had proven Goldstein's
hunch correct, and fired the team leader.
next week, Goldstein surveyed her consulting class,
asking why they thought the female group had won.
She also asked them how they would have approached
the situation differently.
are some really valuable business lessons to be learned,"
Goldstein said. "They've made a lot of classic
professors said The Apprentice will never take the
place of textbooks or traditional case studies. But
they argued that it could have a place alongside them.
"We incorporate all kinds of events," said
Roy Lewicki, a professor of management and human resources
at Ohio State University, who has talked about a handful
of Trump episodes in his classes. "This is no
more or less relevant than any other materials."
at the University of Washington, about 80 undergraduates
in the Management Lessons from The Apprentice class
watch the show each week and come up with their own
business plans for the tasks presented on television.
Their final exam: a journal of real-life lessons that
they learned from Trump.
lecturer, Laura Schildkraut, said the class provided
perfect fodder for her course.
says, 'Oh, it's not realistic. You don't go out and
sell lemonade,' " she said. "But the students
are seeing some of their peers go through the job
interview process. I don't look at 'You're fired'
as 'You're fired'. It's 'You're not going to get the
position with our company'."
guessing the winner of Thursday's finale, the business
professors would like to think they hold a bit of
an edge. The Georgetown professors, who were meeting
for drinks to watch the final show, have a pool going
to see whose business acumen was the best.
we have the inside track? The academic in me would
love to say yes, but it's probably untrue," said
Lee Pinkowitz, a Georgetown assistant professor of
perhaps it is: months ago, Pinkowitz picked Bill.
to battle the Donald - 2nd April 2004