Michelle Sorro quits 'The Apprentice: Los Angeles' after losing her task
By Steve Rogers, 01/22/2007
For the first time in three seasons, an Apprentice candidate has quit the Donald Trump reality show, with The Apprentice: Los Angeles contestant Michelle Sorro, a 34-year-old real estate consultant from Los Angeles, CA, deciding -- moments before she was very likely to be fired anyways -- that the competition's Survivor-like backyard living conditions weren't what she "had originally signed up for."
The Apprentice: Los Angeles' third episode began with the sixteen remaining candidates meeting The Donald at the Santa Monica Loews Hotel. Once there, Trump informed Heidi Androl's Kinetic Corporation team that since their second episode task victory had earned them to right to not have to participate in this week's task, they would get to spend the day relaxing and enjoying the hotel's posh facilities.
Meanwhile, with Kinetic out of the task, Trump told the Arrow Corporation that it would be divided into two teams and asked for two project manager volunteers to lead the teams. After a few moments of awkward silence in which only Aaron Altscher volunteered to lead a team, Trump asked Michelle -- the target of much of her teammates' Week 2 boardroom blame -- if she wanted to volunteer to lead the second team. Feeling that Trump's request had put her on the spot, Michelle accepted. "I can't say no to Mr. Donald Trump when he asked me in front of everybody," Michelle later explained to the cameras. "I feel like I was cornered, I had to say yes."
After Arrow was divided into two new teams, Donald Trump Jr. (who after missing the season's first two episodes, joined Ivanka Trump as an advisor to their father) informed the candidates that this week's task would require them to create and execute a new themed tour for Starline Tours of Hollywood, a double-decker bus tour company. Each team would give their tour once, with the team that scored the highest on their tourists' satisfaction surveys winning the task.
As soon as the task began, Michelle sensed that her neck was on the chopping block. "There is a probability that the team would want me fired if we lose this task... the stakes are higher than they've ever been for me," Michelle explained to the cameras. During their brainstorming session, Michelle -- paranoid that, should they lose the task, her team would use it as grounds to campaign for her firing -- harassed each of her teammates into stating that they were "100% behind" her "A Day in the Life of the Rich & Famous" theme." Later, Michelle decided to waste the rest of the day driving around Hollywood and Beverly Hills looking for tour locations -- a move that forced Frank and Nicole (Tim accompanied her on the scouting trip) to take it upon themselves to begin handling some of the task's other responsibilities.
Meanwhile, over at Aaron's team, James quickly came up with the idea of hiring eight Los Angeles Lakers cheerleaders for their bus tour. After calling the Lakers' team offices and learning that they could secure the cheerleaders' appearance for $85 an hour for each girl and deciding against Aaron's initial "Hollywood Murders" theme suggestion, the team quickly settled on a "Famous Places and Beautiful Faces" tour theme. Rather than drive around scouting their own tour locations, the team had James take one of Starline's existing tours and survey the tourists about how they could make the tour better.
By early evening, Michelle and Tim were still scouting tour locations and Michelle -- seemingly paralyzed into indecision and still paranoid that should her team lose the task, her teammates would blame her for the loss -- appeared to attempt to cajole Tim into deciding which tour locations the group should use. Tim didn't bite, however Michelle's indecisiveness left her team hours behind schedule, forcing all four team members to -- over Tim, Frank, and Nicole's objections -- work through the entire night to prepare for the next day's tour.
On tour day, both tours seemed to get off to a somewhat rough start, with the initial enthusiasm that the Laker's girls brought to Aaron's team fizzling in the face of James' excessive tour guide energy and Michelle's team struggling with a squeaky microphone. However while Stefanie managed to rescue her team by grabbing the mic and performing like "a 20 year tour guide veteran," Michelle's team continued to struggle, with Tim and Nicole each citing the team's lack of sleep as a possible factor.
Once her tour ended, the most positive thing Michelle could come up with was that there were some tour passengers who "were certainly not angry." "I think they felt for us [and] had some sympathy," Michelle commented.
After the seven Arrow candidates gathered in the boardroom to learn how they had done, Michelle's teammates immediately made it clear that they felt that Michelle had been -- at best -- a mediocre and indecisive project manager. When the task results were revealed, they came as little surprise -- Aaron's team had easily won the challenge with an 82% approval rating (Michelle's team received a 58% approval rating.)
Then -- before Trump even had a chance to dismiss Aaron's team from the boardroom -- Michelle surprised everyone by announcing that, although she would "love to have an opportunity to work for your organization through the conventional route potentially one day," she wanted to quit The Apprentice: Los Angeles' competition. "I would just like to say that, in light of the circumstance, and the fact that what I signed up for originally is not what I'm dealing with now... living in the backyard, being the losers... I don't even feel like I want to come back to the boardroom," Michelle told Trump as he peppered her with interruptions. "It's not worth it to me to go through this, it really isn't... I would love to resign from the process."
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As the rest of her shocked teammates looked on, Trump told Michelle that her "resignation" would mean she was a "quitter" and a "loser" -- a point she contested. "It does not... it does not," Michelle insisted.
Under questioning by Donald Trump Jr., Michelle acknowledged that despite her earlier comment, her decision was likely to "preclude" The Trump Organization from her having any interest in ever hiring her. "If it does, it does," Michelle responded.
According to Michelle, she may have quit the competition even if her team had won the task. "The process has been tough on me, it's been really difficult. I would not have ever signed up for this had I known that I would be living in tents in the freezing cold weather, working in the rain... it's not how I want to spend the next however many weeks."
Undeterred by her comments, Trump made it clear that -- although she was likely to be fired shortly anyways -- he felt Michelle was making a poor decision. "This is a major opportunity, this is a major lifetime event for you [and] in all of the years that I've been doing this, only one person has quit," Trump, alluding to The Apprentice 3 candidate Verna Felton's decision to also quit the competition during its third week, told Michelle. "I've been amazed that there's only been one person because some people and sometimes you really suffer, it's very tough. You're doing something that when you look back on your life, I think that you will not be proud of... [and] when I give speeches on success and speeches on motivation, the second point I make is never, ever give up, never quit. You can never been successful if you quit."
"You can dress it up any way, but you came into this knowing it wasn't going to be easy," Trump commented as Michelle continued to insist that she didn't know the competition would be "quite like this." "If I were you, I'd rather be fired, to be honest, rather than quit, I hate the concept, I hate what you're doing with quitting. Me, I don't care, you make my job easier, but the fact is that I hate that you're going to be living with that for a long time, I just thing it's a mistake for yourself."
Despite Trump's comments, Michelle remained confident that she was making the right decision. "I'm quitting... because I also know that there was so much more that I could have done on that task and I'm just thinking that there's something that's going on with my spirit that it isn't being the typical resilient person that I came into this space being. Like Mr. Trump said, I can coat this anyway that I want so for me, it doesn't feel like I'm quitting anything, it feels like I'm staying true to my integrity, saying true to a process that doesn't work for me naturally,"
After accepting Michelle's "resignation," Trump informed the three remaining members of Michelle's team that he would "see you three later." However after giving them some time to sweat back in the mansion's backyard, The Donald decided that Michelle's departure had been enough. "Since Michelle quit, Mr. Trump feels that no one else on her team deserves to be fired, Mr. Trump has canceled the boardroom" Andi, Trump's Los Angeles assistant, told the candidates via a call to the mansion's backyard telephone.