Lenny Veltman, Leslie Bourgeois fired in 'Apprentice 5' doubleheader
By Tim Andrews, 04/11/2006
In order to make room on its schedule for next week's week-long Celebrity Cooking Showdown reality cooking competition, NBC opted to air back-to-back The Apprentice episodes last night. The broadcasts saw two more losing project managers bite the dust, with Lenny Veltman going home after being unable to relate to his task's judges and Leslie Bourgeois later joining him after her failure to properly price Gold Rush Corporation's product resulted in the team's fourth consecutive task loss.
The task for the night's first The Apprentice 5 episode was to team with Ace Hardware's "New Faces for Helpful Places" charity to refurbish a room at a local Boys and Girls Club of America which would be judged by two Ace executives and a Boys and Girls Club representative. At Gold Rush, Lenny, a 37-year-old trading company owner from the former U.S.S.R who had been chastised by The Donald as being "on thin ice”" after last week's final boardroom session decided to step up to be the project manager. Meanwhile, at Synergy Corp, Michael Laungani decided to step up for the project leadership role.
Things got off to a rocky start at Gold Rush as Lenny, who had shown strength in his practical and straightforward approach in past assignments as a contributor, showed little of that behavior when it was his own turn to lead. After getting off on the wrong foot by being unprepared for the meeting with the Ace representatives, things continued to erode as he and teammate Charmaine Hunt continually butted heads as they executed the task. While the team appeared to come somewhat back together when the finally began renovating the activity space, the tension between Lenny and the rest of the team -- other than his long time supporter and friend Lee Bienstock -- proved to be a major distraction.
Unfortunately for Synergy, things appeared to be just about as equally disorganized on their side, with Michael appearing to overthink even the simplest decisions and micromanage the entire project. While Gold Rush's meeting with the executives had run very short, Michael’s continual restatement of same questions extended Synergy's meeting for far long than was needed. Afterward, although his concept appeared to be reasonable, Michael's general inability to make a decision resulted in the team wasting all day discussing their plans and only beginning the renovations late that evening. The fact that the team only began executing their renovations at midnight even shocked Apprentice observer Bill Rancic, who was openly confronted Michael about the team's poor time management
In the end however, things came together for both teams and while the children who were brought into experience the refurbished rooms appeared to favor Gold Rush's simpler theme of musical interaction, the executives clearly favored the more diverse approach offered by Synergy Corp and awarded them the victory. As a reward, Synergy was allowed to join a young cancer patient as she received an all expense paid shopping spree at Toys "R" Us provided by the Make a Wish Foundation.
During Gold Rush's boardroom session, Lenny defended his team's room renovation. Pointing out how much the kids had loved the new room, he attempted to explain that rather seeking to woo the judges, his team had focused on designing a room the kids would enjoy. However Donald Trump didn't buy the logic, deciding fire Lenny without even conducting a final boardroom session.
The night's second The Apprentice 5 episode picked up where the first ended, with the remaining Gold Rush members returning from the boardroom. Lee, who had been close to Lenny, appeared to have a difficult time with the decision, and was consequently not receptive when Charmaine decided to deride him for calling her out in the boardroom. In an equally uncomfortable situation, Synergy (the last task's winning team) decided to pull Michael, their winning project manager, aside and tell him he was the weakest link and that he was "lucky" they had won. Not surprisingly, Michael didn't seem to take that news very well either, so when The Donald asked for a volunteer from Synergy to go to the depleted Gold Rush team Michael volunteered.
The second episode's task was to promote and sell the P’EatZZa, a new 7-Eleven convenience store sandwich that is made with two slices of pizza. The winner of the task would be whichever team increased the percentage of sales at the store they were assigned the most the day of the event. At Gold Rush, Leslie, a 28-year-old Houma, LA realtor who been the only remaining contestant who had not yet served as a project manager, decided it was her turn at last. Meanwhile at Synergy, Andrea Lake, who pointed out if it was up to her she would be project manager for every task, became her team's project manager for the second time.
In conjunction with the promotion, the teams were allowed to use a promotional item for the new sandwich and the 7-Eleven sponsored Formula 1 racecar. At Synergy, Andrea insisted on using a baseball cap as their promotional item, a move that both the rest of the team and Apprentice observer Carolyn Kepcher found odd. Meanwhile, Gold Rush decided upon a more sensible drink cooler as their promotional item, however the key to the task appeared to be price. Synergy choose to go low on the price, selling their sandwiches for $4 each with a free ball cap. Feeling they were offering a premium item as their giveaway, Gold Rush opted to go higher, selling their sandwiches and free cooler combination for $7 each.
While both teams appeared to be selling well, Synergy appeared to be aided by both their lower selling point and some promotional flyers they had handed out the prior evening. Despite this, Lee appeared on the verge of single-handedly turning the tide toward Gold Rush when he attempted to think outside the box and cut a 1000 sandwich wholesale deal with a local building manager. Unfortunately he was unable to negotiate a price that Leslie deemed acceptable, scuttling the potentially win-clinching deal. In the end, Gold Rush's decision to pass on the $2 a sandwich, 1,000 sandwich order that the building manager had offered appeared to prove costly, with the team raising their store's sales by 608% but still losing the task to Synergy's 997% sales increase.
As a reward, Synergy was flown to Washington D.C. to have breakfast with one of The Donald’s friend -- Chuck Shumer, the senior U.S. Senator from the state of New York. After words of advise from the senator, the group then toured the U.S. capitol city on foot, resulting in what appeared to be a very touching moment for recent green card recipient Sean Yazbeck.
In the boardroom, Leslie attempted to throw the blame on Lee because he was unable to negotiate the deal and wound up wasting precious time which was fruitless. However Trump appeared quiet skeptical of Leslie's claim, and instead appeared to focus more on the team's price point, which George Ross, Carolyn, and The Donald all felt was too high. In the end, since she had only thrown blame towards Lee, Leslie opted to only bring Lee back into the final boardroom session.
During the final boardroom, Lee and Leslie continued to over talk each other each trying to make their points, but with no clear winner in that regards The Donald reverted back to his initial opinion that it was the price had been too high. And since the item's price point had been Leslie’s responsibility, Leslie became the ninth The Apprentice 5 candidate fired.