With just five people remaining on 'The Apprentice,' every move became greatly magnified. This week, Donald Trump leaned on his usual rules to pronounce "You're fired." Ultimately, a loss is the project manager's fault. But another contestant's major missteps were not overlooked.
Team Octane dominated for the fifth week in a row. With the final five contestants vying for a job with the Trump Organization, two teams were charged with creating 30-second television ads for a new mobile TV service offered by AT&T and FloTV. Commercials were judged based on creativity, as well as the ad's ability to recommend the brand and to make the message clear and concise.
Team Fortitude, now formed by Stephanie Castagnier and Liza Mucheru-Wisner, showed how people can escape by watching FloTV on AT&T wireless devices. In the role of project manager, Stephanie assigned Liza to find an outdoor sporting arena. Liza did not deliver so they tried to fake it. Fake didn't work, so they used one scene where office workers watched FloTV on mobile phones. Problem was, most managers don't want their employees watching television at work.
Team Octane, with Clint Robertson, Steuart Martens, and Brandy Kuentzel, used the concept of "odd man out" in their commercial. Clint played the actor in the role of a guy surrounded by people who use FloTV. The corporate executives found their ad a bit campy. But, the team mentioned the brand over and over, and targeted multiple demos. They earned the win, and the privilege to meet with Cathie Black, former head of Hearst magazines and new chancellor of New York City schools.
Trump dealt his usual "the boss is responsible" blow in firing Stephanie. "I felt as though I was a team of one," she notes, referring to Liza's perceived participation.
Both Trump and his son, Don Jr., noted that Liza is hanging on thin ice. None of Liza's ideas has been adopted by project managers over the course of the show. Ivanka Trump nailed it: Liza can't make the strong pitch for her ideas. It's all about the sales pitch.
Stephanie said her biggest mistake was taking risks. "Had I adopted everyone else's strategy of coasting, I would have played it safe and made it to the end," she says. "It's just not in my nature to coast!"
One might say Stephanie might have learned to heed the old wives' tales of wishes: Never share wishes or they won't come true. Before the task, Stephanie shared the following about Liza, "My plan is to get dirty, win a task, and throw her under the bus."
There was no bus, just the taxi that took Stephanie home.
Behind the scenes
Stephanie told AOL Jobs that being on set was very elaborate and labor-intensive. What viewers don't see are the steps required just to get tasks done.
"It is a huge endeavor just to get permission to enter a specific store to buy supplies for our task," she says. "We needed production approval, who needed store approval and waivers needed to be signed all as we are rushing to complete our task."
If viewers think contestants' hands are always full, they are not allowed to use store-branded bags when leaving a store because of brand sponsorship considerations.
Where is Stephanie today?
Stephanie, 34, is hardly resting on laurels from 15 minutes of fame. As one of the older contestants with established business experience, the Canadian's entrepreneurial spirit for her businesses was fueled by 'The Apprentice.' In addition to becoming a spokeswoman representing the Trump brand, she's built on several of her own businesses. She owns a 3-year-old mortgage banking company, Hudson Financial Group, where she's a direct lender specializing in government loans. Not to be pigeonholed in one industry, she also owns an entertainment company that manages artists including 'American Idol' cast-off Shaun Barrowes.
"We are producing 120 concerts in 2011," she told AOL Jobs. "A percentage of the concert tour sales is donated to my nonprofit, Fear to Fire which raises teen drug awareness.
"I learned once again on the show as I have learned in the past not to worry about what everyone thinks around you and to always stay true to yourself," she says. "I can honestly say I was true to myself on 'The Apprentice.'"
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