Not five minutes passed before Donald Trump proclaimed his signature, "You're Fired" on this week's episode of 'The Apprentice.'
The task from three weeks earlier, where teams gave pedicab tours of New York City neighborhoods, caused the firing of a third contestant -- this time because he broke the rules. Anand Vasudev had sent a text message, asking the recipient to bring money and come ride his team's pedicabs. Anand's hunger to win overrode his sense of ethics. The former real estate executive, never called into the boardroom on the show, is now gone.
A fragrant task
And then there were six. Teams reshuffled again this week. Now, team "Fortitude" is comprised of Liza Mucheru-Wisner, Stephanie Castagnier, and Poppy Carlig. "Octane" features Clint Robertson, Steuart Martens, and Brandy Kuentzel.
The task: to create an in-store display at Perfumania for a new fragrance by Kim Kardashian, "The Voluptuous New Fragrance." Clint and Poppy stepped up to the project manager role. Poppy's all-girl team envisioned sparkles, feather boas, and sequins. The highlight: a life-size photo of Kardashian positioned so shoppers could take their photos with it.
Clint's team took a cleaner approach, with an up-lit purple lucite display, a subtle interpretation of a Hollywood dressing room vanity. Perfume bottles sat in recessed boxes, framed by light.
Kim Kardashian herself showed up to judge the results. She found Poppy's presentation to be kitschy, cheap, and didn't embody her personality. Trump called it "tacky." However, Clint's team's ideas were seen as sophisticated and understated. Kardashian couldn't find a thing wrong with the lighted display, and the team won.
As project manager and a major idea contributor, Poppy lost her shot to be Trump's next apprentice. "Having an all-woman team was to my disadvantage, as we were more likely to get carried away with feminine things like sequins and boas," she says. "Without a male to balance us out, we ran wild."
Anand learned the "coulda, shoulda, woulda" lesson, wishing he could take back those text messages. He chose to lie to Trump about the text message, thinking he had a real chance to make the finals. Not so much. While Trump appreciated Anand's desire to create every possible advantage, he thought Anand crossed the line. Perhaps next time, Anand will "count to 10 and then hit 'send.'"
Poppy thought Stephanie should be fired for supporting the project manager's bad ideas, a statement of questionable logic. Trump's boardroom assistant (and daughter) Ivanka, summarized Poppy's shortcomings neatly:
"You don't want to win because someone else is weaker," she said on the show. "You want to win because you're stronger."
Looking back at his experiences, Anand learned that a sixth sense is key. "You need to learn the strengths and weaknesses of everyone around you," he says. "The key is to keep your friends close and your enemies even closer so you know how to leverage it to your advantage."
Poppy was the baby of the show -- this opportunity on 'The Apprentice' was her first job interview. Her inexperience in business hurt her, but she left the show better prepared for the future. "I learned from the mistakes and successes of both myself and my teammates on proper demeanor, how to earn respect, and the maturity it takes to design things for all audiences," Poppy told AOL Jobs. "Despite my inexperience, no one could deny my excellent ideas."
Behind the scenes
Whether or not it was obvious to viewers, Poppy said that at first she was very nervous in front of the cameras, but by the end warmed up to the experience.
Anand told AOL Jobs that viewers can't truly understand the level of competition.
"I think viewers have no idea just how much pressure we are under to perform at the highest level," he says. "Sometimes things are said and done on the show that aren't characteristic of the person saying or doing it."
In addition, Anand says viewers only see a small fraction of footage over the 40-45 minutes of the show. "We have 36-48 hours worth of footage that nobody sees," he says. "There are so many conversations and situations that hit the cutting room floor."
Where's Anand today?
Anand, 31, is still looking for the right opportunity in New York City. But ever the entrepreneur, he is brewing up some ideas and innovations.
Where's Poppy today?
Poppy, 24, a Stanford graduate, is now doing stem cell research at the Rando Laboratory of Stanford University. Armed with a masters degree in biology, she had applied for the job at Stanford before the show. She lives in San Francisco with former 'The Apprentice' contestant David Johnson.
Catch up on more of The Apprentice Interviews.