Aaron Altscher becomes the fifth 'The Apprentice 6' candidate fired
By Steve Rogers, 02/12/2007
Deemed to be a "nice guy" but a poor leader, Aaron Altscher, a 25-year-old community sales manager from Fredericksburg, Virginia, was fired during Sunday night's broadcast of the fifth episode of NBC's The Apprentice: Los Angeles.
The Apprentice: Los Angeles' fifth episode began with the fourteen remaining candidates meeting Donald Trump at his next-door mansion and learning that their fifth task would require them to harvest, bottle, market, and sell Sue Bee Honey's honey product. Once they'd manufactured their product, each team would set up display tables at a different Ralph's supermarket location and the team that made the most money would win exemption from the week's boardroom session.
After a couple of overly dramatic scenes in which some members of each team were shown worrying about being attacked by bees during their "harvesting visits" to some of the company's beekeeping hives, each team returned to Sue Bee Honey's offices and began planning their marketing campaigns.
Since Arrow Corporation had won the last task, Aaron -- who originally became Arrow's project manager by leading his team to a win in Arrow's third episode intra-team task competition -- remained the team's product manager for the new task. As they brainstormed, Surya Yalamanchili, a 24-year-old Procter & Gamble brand manager who, until The Apprentice: Los Angeles' fourth task, had been a member of Arrow's Kinetic Corporation rivals, frustrated his new teammates by trying to embark on a lengthy and excessive analysis of honey consumers and the product's packaging.
"For me it's just about making some honey, going to sell it, and making as much as we can," a frustrated James Sun finally told Surya. "This task is simple [but] Surya complicated the whole process," James Sun later vented to the cameras.
Meanwhile, Kinetic returned from their honey harvesting visit and discovered that although new project manager Aimee Trottier and Jennifer Hoffman had remained back at the company's offices, they hadn't seemed to have accomplished much while the rest of the team was gone.
"We were gone for almost four hours [and] they haven't even agreed on a name," Kristine Lefebvre told the cameras after learning that Aimee and Jennifer had yet to even begin discussing a marketing strategy. "We really expected a full marketing campaign to [already] be developed [but] nothing had happened... Aimee... didn't do anything."
"I feel like it's a disaster, a complete and total disaster," Kristine told the rest of the team.
The next day, both teams began to attempt to sell their product, with Kinetic selling their honey at a two for $5.00 price point and Arrow selling charging $4.99 per bottle but offering a buy two get one free deal. Arrow also attempted use the same technique that won it the last task -- bulk sales to local businesses. However while Arrow team members Nicole D'Ambrosio and Tim Urban enjoyed the opportunity to get some time alone together and continue their flirting, the pair failed to reach first base in their attempts to convince local businesses to buy half price cases of their product.
Both teams also appeared to suffer from poor leadership. After watching Aaron, a sales person who admitted "hating sales" wandering aimlessly, Stefani Schaeffer, a 32-year-old attorney, took it upon herself to task him with distributing a tray of honey samples.
"[Aaron] didn't really have a cohesive plan, it was more like the team telling Aaron what needed to be done," Stefani told the cameras later. "What Aaron was doing, I dunno... he was sort of overseeing everything." "His management style is a little bit more laid back," James told Sean Yazbeck, the fifth season The Apprentice winner who observed (complete with written notes!) the task for Trump.
Things seemed even worse at Kinetic, where Aimee -- for reasons never explained -- seemed to waste a good chunk of time shopping for marshmallow fluff and coffee with Jennifer and continue her own rudderless management style.
"God forbid we win, she'll stay project manager," Kristine lamented to Derek Arteta. "Don't even think about that," Derek replied back.
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Derek and Angela Ruggiero eventually decided to take matters into his own hands, with Derek donning a beekeeper suit and Angela using her Olympic gold medalist status to drum up sales.
"Despite the fact that Aimee was a crappy manager, things are looking up for us." Derek commented after the team had wound down its sales efforts.
When the teams gathered back in the boardroom to learn the results of their sales efforts, it came as little surprise that, given their significantly lower price point (2 bottles for $5 as opposed to Arrow's 3 bottles for $9.98), Kinetic had won the challenge. Kinetic had sold 345 bottles for a total of $836.58. Arrow had sold 217 bottles for $775.48.
As their reward, Kinetic received the chance to play basketball with Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson and some of the team's current and former players. Kinetic also won the right to kick Arrow out of their luxurious mansion housing and claim the luxurious home's interior back as their own.
"We were only in the mansion one week and now we're right out [in the backyard] again," Frank Lombardi remarked after Arrow found itself living back in "Tent City."
Prior to Arrow's boardroom session, James tried to make it clear to Aaron -- whom Trump had previously criticized as being too quiet when he got a chance to serve as The Donald's advisor during Kinetic's fourth episode boardroom session -- that he needed to be much more aggressive during the team's upcoming boardroom visit.
"Aaron's personality is pretty laid back [but] in the boardroom, you can not be laid back -- you have to go fighting, you have to be fierce, and you have to be pro-active," James explained to the cameras. "Aaron's going to have to go for the kill if he wants to survive here."
Meanwhile, Surya, correctly suspecting that Aaron attempted to blame him Arrow's loss, used Derek -- via a conversation that took place over the top of the hedges that separated Arrow's camp from the rest of the mansion's backyard -- to give Aimee, Surya's former Kinetic teammate, a head's up that he believed Aaron was planning to attempt to convince Trump that Surya was the reason for Arrow's third loss.
"I will be fair, but I will not let those guys ambush him because they're tight as a team," Aimee assured Derek. "I will not let him go down."
Sure enough, Aimee, who had appeared to act extremely reserved when leading her team as project manager, was anything but during the boardroom. Aimee repeatedly challenged Aaron and James' attempts to claim that Surya's poor marketing plan was the reason Arrow lost -- a development that even Trump eventually commented on.
"She's very tough, maybe she's too tough, because you, know she's coming at you people pretty strong and you know, a week ago, she almost got her ass fired... so I'm not sure if I like that," Trump said.
However while Stefani and Frank also supported Aaron and James' charge that Surya was responsible for Arrow's loss, Nicole and Tim -- who blamed Aaron instead -- did not. Therefore when it came time to select who would accompany him to the final boardroom, it came as little surprise that Aaron -- despite openly admitting that he didn't feel Nicole should be fired -- picked Nicole to join Surya and him in the boardroom firing session.
During the final boardroom, Aaron attempted to convince Trump that although he might not be the most outspoken person, he -- unlike Suyra -- was capable of making decisions. However, unfortunately for Aaron, Nicole continued to disagree with Aaron's claims that Surya was the one responsible for Arrow's loss, and after Aimee pointed out that Aaron was a sales person and the task was a sales task, Trump decided that although Aaron was "a nice guy," it was time for him to go.
"[Last boardroom] I saw a very quiet guy that didn't want to speak, that didn't want to impart his knowledge to me, if he had any knowledge," Trump said. "I had no leadership, I got very little help, and in addition, I didn't see the leadership for this task... Aaron, you're fired."