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Clay Lee becomes the thirteenth 'Apprentice' contestant fired


By Tim Andrews, 11/18/2005 

After demonstrating that he was just as incapable of working with his new Apprentice team as his old team, Clay Lee, a 28-year-old realtor from College Station, Texas, was sent packing during last night's The Apprentice 4 broadcast, becoming the thirteenth contestant to be fired by Donald Trump.

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Since last week’s double firings had left the two teams unbalanced with four Capital Edge members to only two Excel members, The Apprentice 4's ninth episode began with Clay (who had had issues working with his fellow teammates on Capital Edge) openly campaigning to be transferred to Excel when the teams were evened at three members each. After existing Excel members Rebecca Jarvis and Randal Pinkett inexplicably told Trump that they'd welcome Clay's addition (isn't the cutthroat Apprentice business world all about exploiting your competitor's weaknesses, not taking them off their hands?), The Donald granted Clay's request.

In addition to pleasing Clay, the transfer equally delighted remaining Capital Edge members Felisha Mason, Alla Wartenberg and Adam Israelov -- which should have been Rebecca and Randal's first sign that they had just made a boneheaded move. Along with Clay's transfer, Trump also announced that since The Apprentice was down to its final six candidates, there would be no more opportunities for winning project managers to earn exemptions.

The assignment for this week's task was to pick a musical artist to create a new song for the XM Café, a XM Satellite Radio channel that features music that is rock oriented with a heavy focus on lyrics. On Excel, Rebecca -- who has proven herself to be a good worker but a questionable leader -- stepped up to become the project manager. Meanwhile on Capital Edge, Felisha agreed to take the reins.

Before they could create a song, the teams each had to first audition potential artists. Excel settled on a Nigerian born singer with a unique voice named Jidé, while Capital Edge "fell in love" with an artist known as Levi. Both teams appeared to take the same tactic of trying to introduce the artist by having them tell their story via their music. On Excel, the initial seeds of discontent began appearing when Rebecca and Clay disagreed about Jidé's song lyrics. Although overruled by his project manager, Clay refused to budge from his initial opinion on the team's songwriting approach, proceeding to instead disrupt the efforts of his team from that point on. At Capital Edge, things worked much more smoothly as Felisha appeared to have a good understanding of the XM Café's format and was able to tweak the underlying music when she felt it veered outside of the station's format.

At the presentation to the XM executives, Capital Edge further solidified their strong showing as Levi's song met with good initial listener reaction and appeared to fit well into the format of the station. On the other hand, Excel's presentation did not go as well as Clay disrupted the presentation by bringing in Jidé before he was completely introduced and Randal had produced an advertising poster that displayed an incorrect station number for XM Café. Levi's caller input was also lukewarm at best and at least one of the executives questioned whether the style of the music really fit the station.

Taken together, the events left little doubt as to the task's final outcome, and when the results were announced Capital Edge had easily won the task. As their "reward," Capital Edge got to fly around New York in Trump's helicopter with The Donald himself serving as their personal tour guide (I suppose that's a good reward -- or at least a couple of steps up from spending the day with Bill Rancic, right?)

In Excel's boardroom session, there were many points of failure identified, but surprisingly little of it focused on two-time losing project manager Rebecca. Instead, the primary issues discussed seemed to be Clay's inability to work with either Apprentice team and Randal's XM station number mistake. Ultimately, Randal’s past good performances outweighed his critical mistake on this task, and when The Donald made his decision it was Clay who heard "you're fired."

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