In a shocking end to the show, Donald Trump fired two people this week on 'The Apprentice.' Contestants really had to step on it in planning a fashion show, as they had just hours to stage a runway for Rockport shoes Spring 2011 collection. The men were charged with staging the women's line and the women had to display the men's collection. In the end, Gene Folkes and Wade Hanson got the boot.
According to the Census, the shoe industry brings in almost $30 billion dollars annually. Rockport's niche in the industry is "walkability," bringing fashion and comfort together.
Fortitude, the women's team, created a catwalk theme: "A day in the life" of a fictitious guy named Tristan. The crowd loved their show -- until the very end. The finale featured male models in the Rockport shoes, clothed only in underwear. Some eyebrows raised, including those of Rockport CEO Michael Rupp. It was a huge risk for project manager Stephanie Castagnier -- one that ultimately paid off.
The men's team, Octane, launched a theme of "look good longer." The team's presentation was rough as Folkes stumbled and fumbled through descriptions of the shoes. Donald Trump, in the audience, shook his head. The room's energy fizzled..
In a board room first for 'The Apprentice,' Donald Trump declared the women winners straight away, without further discussion. "I think you've done an amazing job," he said. "Your team blew away the men."
Trump stressed a very basic tenet of public speaking: keep props to a minimum. Folkes lugged an unwieldy laptop during the fashion show. Incredulous, Trump held up a piece of paper and said that he keep all his notes on it.
"It's the worst job I've ever seen as an emcee," Trump said. "People knew you lost as soon as you started talking."
Hanson, as project manager, took Folkes at his word that he was a strong public speaker. Trump criticized the project manager for neither testing Folkes' ability nor having a proper rehearsal before the fashion show. He channeled the old adage: Failing to rehearse is rehearsing to fail.
Hanson learned another lesson, after spending weeks on the show hovering below the radar. "I thought I could put my head down and execute while others self-destructed and made enemies and stupid decisions, he told AOL Jobs. "I should have left nothing on the table – lesson learned. I will never do that again."
Behind the scenes
It takes a huge effort to get an hour of television on air each week. Hanson says viewers would be amazed to see the amount of people it takes to put 'The Apprentice,' together.
In addition, Trump shows a different side off camera. "Trump was all business all the time, but it was nice for me to see how he interacts with his children," says Hanson. "I was amazed at what a great father he is."
Where are Gene and Wade today?
Folkes, 46, of Wylie, TXexas has started his own company, developing a high-tech assisted living facility. He's bringing past experience from the Air Force and time spent as a financial advisor.
Hanson, 33, of Woodbury, Minn., hopes to become the "best known real estate agent in Minnesota" as a result of his experience on the show. "'The Apprentice' has re-energized my career in many ways. I no longer lead with fear like many Americans are doing in this recession," he says. "It's given me focus and has shown me that anything is possible if you are willing to work for it."