Wealth, power, and sexual prowess. That's how one team on this week's 'The Apprentice' defined the Donald J. Trump brand. The team was spot on, at least according to Trump. But even the loser was a winner in the end.
The mogul presented contestants on this week's show with a task close to his own heart and name. Teams created print advertisements for the Donald J. Trump Signature Collection of men's shirts, ties, and cuff links sold by Macy's. Trump doesn't just lend his name to the brand; he says he wears the product.
Teams switched this week. Now, team "Fortitude" was comprised of David Johnson, Anand Vasudev, Stephanie Castagnier, and Poppy Carlig. "Octane" featured Liza Mucheru-Wisner, Clint Robertson, Steuart Martens, and Brandy Kuentzel.
With Brandy as project manager, Octane's shoot at the Trump Soho Hotel envisioned a day in the life of a Trump-wearing man. The team's models didn't show up so Brandy and Steuart stepped in with Brandy wearing only a man's shirt with Steuart looking on. The result was a bit on the racy side for both Macy's and Trump, but in the end the team best met the objectives of creativity, brand integration, and presentation.
David Johnson lead Fortitude to a loss. He decided to highlight the products with color in black and white photographs and a debonair male model. But the shirt was too big, gaping around the model's neck. A page showing branded products used photos that were too small. David, known as the "loose cannon" of the show, took a fairly professional approach, aside from some swearing here and there. As he took responsibility for the vision of the ad, he took responsibility for the loss.
Fans probably would have hoped for David's firing to have more fanfare, but he made a rather dignified exit.
David's man crush
The boardroom took an oddly personal turn as David's teammates accused him of having a "man crush" on the model he chose. Trump pushed him by asking, "Are you sure you don't want to come out (as gay)?" He went on to mention that he knew many men who were married and had kids (like David) but then came out.
Anand followed with the Seinfeld-ism, "Not that there's anything wrong with that." Johnson said he was straight.
His "man crush" sealed his fate because, despite the model's dashing looks, the clothes did not fit properly, a cardinal sin for a clothing advertisement.
We may live in the United States of America, but "Trumpland" is a dictatorship. While teams can be collaborative, ultimately, what the project manager says is the law of the land. And that's where the buck stops.
This week's show featured a "classic 'Apprentice' boardroom." Trump even referenced history on 'The Apprentice,' -- that ultimately project managers are responsible for a win or a loss. As such, this week's loss fell to Johnson.
With hindsight being 20/20, David now wishes he didn't ruffle so many feathers throughout his stay on the show.
"I brought out the common enemy persona into the show and I think that numbered my days from the beginning," he told AOL Jobs.
As the father of five children (ages 3 to 16) going through a divorce, he also second-guessed a few other crazy antics he did on the show, which his older kids took some ribbing in school for.
"Kids thought that Dad thought that 'The Apprentice' was more important than them," he said. But Johnson was actually looking for redemption in their eyes if he had won the whole thing. And he thought he would win.
Behind the scenes
"Producers really play with it so they paint characters as characters," Johnson said.
David said in one episode he had apologized to the project manager for his actions but that never made it on the air. He added that there were many funny moments that never saw the light of day.
"I was disappointed that I was painted as the villain when I really just wanted to win," he said.
Where's David Johnson today?
Johnson, 34, of Portage, Mich., is hoping to follow in the footsteps of Donald Trump. He founded his own tel-com consulting company called Michigan Ideas Communication or MIdeaCom. He's also a Navy veteran and past account manager who will now add another unique experience to his resume.
"It's a double-edged sword," he said. "I've had customers tell me they don't want to do biz with me and those who are curious about bringing me in."
While he didn't win 'The Apprentice,' he may be dating her. After the show wrapped four months ago, David began dating contestant Poppy Carlig. After many late-night, long-distance phone calls, the two now live together in San Francisco and David visits his children in Michigan every other weekend. But it all started in last night's boardroom, where David brought Poppy in front of Trump to potentially be fired.
"I told her, 'We're going to have to do a little arguing. Don't be nervous because it will likely be me going home,'" he said. "The fact that I did what I said I was going to do gave me credibility. Right away she trusted me. Then we had some fun in NYC. She's 24, I'm 34. But in many ways we're at the same parts of our lives. I was married at 19. We're both figuring out who we are."