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HOME > The Apprentice > The Apprentice 5

Stacy Schneider and Jose 'Pepi' Diaz both get fired from 'Apprentice 5'


By Tim Andrews, 03/07/2006 

Having premiered to less than stellar ratings NBC's The Apprentice 5 looked to rebound with last night's second episode broadcast which featured a lopsided win and a double firing.

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After losing this week's task in a decisive defeat, Synergy Corporation's Stacy Schneider, a 38-year-old criminal defense attorney from Long Island, New York, and Jose "Pepi" Diaz, a 25-year-old attorney from Miami, Florida, were both fired after their team squabbled with itself rather than focus on the task.

The Apprentice 5's second task was to create a marketing campaign for Gillette’s new five blade Fusion Power razor and use text messaging to measure the buzz generated by each team's efforts. Whichever team could get more consumers to text message their campaign's keyword would win the task. Left unexplained was how begging random consumers to text message a keyword was deemed an effective marketing campaign.

After the teams met with Trump and were presented with their new task, Pepi decided it was time for him to "step up" and lead Synergy in this week's assignment -- a strategy that might have actually worked had he actually done it once things got going. Meanwhile over at Gold Rush Corporation, Lee Bienstock, who had gotten into some conflict with his team during last week's task, was selected to serve as his team's new project manager. Tarek Saab -- a 27-year-old hi-tech manager who barely survived his own turn as the team's initial project manager -- wasn't confident in Lee's ability to rise to the challenge, boldly predicting that the 22-year-old recent college graduate would be "overwhelmed" by the responsibility.

As the task started, it became clear that Brent Buckman, last week's self-absorbed Synergy troublemaker, was once again rubbing his teammates the wrong way. Upset that Stacy had repeatedly interrupted him during their brainstorming session, Brent confronted her about behavior in the hallway, causing Stacy to inform her teammates that she'd been "physically confronted" in a "threatening manner" (a statement she later retracted.)

Although Stacy's assessment of the situation appeared to be greatly exaggerated, the allegation appeared to be the final straw for many of Brent's teammates, who subsequently began requesting that as the team's project manager, Pepi send Brent back to the team's suite. Showing little leadership, Pepi both agreed and disagreed with the suggestion, allowing the issue to dominate the team's brainstorming session and distract precious time and energy from the strategy session.

While things were certainly less tense at Gold Rush, Lee also struggled to lead his team. Frustrated by Lee's obsession with reaching team consensus about the text message phrase the team would use, strong-minded Lenny Veltman opted to, along with Charmaine Hunt and Leslie Bourgeois, walk out of the meeting and head over to Times Square and begin marketing the new Gillette product.

Finally, with brainstorming time running out, both teams decided on their marketing strategies, with Synergy's Michael Laungani suggesting that his team use the cheesy approach of dressing in bathrobes and Gold Rush adopting Lenny's simple strategy of going where people would be stuck waiting in line and "sell" them on placing a text message.

Neither approach appeared all that inspired, however Gold Rush got off to the much earlier start and in general their approach seemed to feed off their superior locations. Synergy Corp made something of a late comeback when Brent decided to begin performing some sideshow theatrics that appeared to generate at least some modest interest from the passing crowds, however given the team's later start and its decision to focus on quickly moving pedestrians, it was not enough to make a difference in the overall results.

When the results were announced, it came as little surprise that Gold Rush won handily. As a reward, Gold Rush was sent to Trump Menswear's showroom to help outfit several of the Career Gear charity's disadvantaged and out of work men. Although an admirable idea, the event no doubt sounded better than it ultimately looked, with only three men ultimately participating in an event that appeared to come across as more of a Trump photo opportunity than either a sincere charitable donation or a legitimate task reward.

In a first for The Apprentice, both George and Carolyn were out this week, which left Season One apprentice Bill Rancic and The Donald daughter Ivanka to fill Trump's two overseer roles. Trump didn't mince words during Synergy's boardroom session, telling the team that its margin of loss was unacceptable and ending the initial boardroom session by announcing that given the team's exceptionally bad performance, he'd be firing two team members rather than the usual one.

While the team for the most part ganged up on Brent as the reason for the failure, Roxanne Wilson proved her independence by blaming Pepi's poor leadership for the unorganized behavior that resulted in the team sleeping in on the day of the marketing event and not fully beginning their marketing efforts until nearly noon. Given the option to bring up to three teammates into the final boardroom, Pepe selected Brent, Stacy, and Michael (whose idea it was to wear the cheesy bathrobes.)

However although Trump appeared to place the primary responsibility for Synergy's loss on Stacy's poor location and fired her first, he also decided that Pepe's poor leadership had been more of a liability than either Brent's behavior or Michael's poor suggestion, making Pepe the boardroom session's second victim.

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