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Joan Rivers Tells Poker Legend Annie Duke to Shut Up

Written by:
Guest
Published on:
Mar/10/2009
Joan Rivers

So, on Episode 2 of The Celebrity Apprentice the task was to design a comic character that represented the company culture and great customer service of Zappos.com.  We also had to write a marketing plan for how the character would be used (that was not shown on the episode). What was particularly interesting for me to watch last night was the footage of the men's team because I never really got to see the men's team in action except in boardrooms.  The show is giving me some insight into what was going on on the other side of the aisle for sure.  It is so interesting to see how the events during the task express themselves in the boardroom.

Now let me just say that I found the boardrooms to be the most interesting and useful part of my experience on the show from a strategic standpoint.  It is in the boardroom that you really get to see the team dynamics, not just of the other team but of your team as well. At some point if you succeed in the game you will have the teams combined and be on a team with some people who are against you at the moment.  So, I watched and listened very carefully during the boardrooms, mainly to get Trump's perspective on the boys, to see who Trump liked and didn't like. I wanted to get a bead on who was competent, who was causing problems, who was well liked, etc. just in case I made it far enough in the game where it would matter.  What seemed clear by this point in the game was that Dennis Rodman was causing problems on the team, Herschel Walker was very competent, and Jesse James seemed to me to be the superstar of the team.  I think a bunch of people in the game kind of thought that Jesse was just laying back and trying to fly under the radar.  But I was noticing that he never seemed to have a bit of criticism slung his way and that the parts of the task he was responsible for always seemed to come out excellently...I mean that truck was kick ass and, let's be honest, the design of the boys' comic character and costume was much, much better than the girls' and that was Jesse's part of the task.

The other thing that seemed obvious at this point was that Tom Greene seemed to be causing some problems on his team in terms of having personality conflicts.  Scott obviously had a huge problem with Tom and Herschel seemed to have issues with him as well.  But, Tom also brought in a ton of money on the first episode and was the most vocal about using a Z in the name of the character for the Zappos challenge.  And he was right.  Clearly Scott did not want to hear it from him and Scott definitely needs to be faulted for that.  Whatever personality issues you have with a person, when they are right you have to be able to acknowledge that they are right and put aside your personal differences in favor of success in the business task.  I don't think there is a place for personal issues in the workplace and that is where Scott really fell down.

Why did Scott Hamilton get fired?  Well, the one thing that seemed to be a no brainer is that if you are designing a comic character to market a site called Zappos.com it should have the letter Z in it somewhere.  As Tom Greene pointed out, EEE is a bra size not the name of a super hero.  Me?  I think it sounds like a well known drug and that, well, doesn't seem like such a good idea for a super hero name.  The fact is that I think the boys' comic looked slicker.  The design of the character was kick ass and, frankly, better than ours.  I never did see their marketing plan so I can't compare those but on look and feel alone the boys would have won.  But that name.  That name killed them.  So whoever decided on that name had to be fired.  Tom, as disruptive as he might have been, was screaming from the mountaintops that the name should start with a Z.  Scott ignored him.  Scott named the character EEE.  Scott got fired.  Exactly the right decision for Donald Trump.

I want to say, though, that I loved Scott Hamilton.  During press week (the week before we started filming) and during the first two tasks I really enjoyed hanging with Scott. He is very funny and he is very, very nice.  In the mornings before the tasks I always gravitated towards him to chat before we started for the day.  So I was sad to see him go because I really enjoyed his company.  He is truly an awesome human being.

Anyway, on to an inside view of what was happening on the women's team on this task.  Obviously, Team Athena won in the end but getting there definitely had its bumps.  When Khloe was appointed project manager, she did not immediately take the role on well.  For the first few hours of the task she did not take control of the room, mainly in the sense that she did not divide us up into smaller groups.  There were basically three parts to this task:  the first was to design the look and feel of the character, the second was to write the character's life story and write the comic book itself, and the third was to develop a marketing plan for the character for Zappos.com.  Obviously, the first order of business should have been to divide us up into three groups and that was not happening so instead everyone was screaming over each other to try to get their idea to be heard. Ugh.  It was total chaos and we had deadlines to meet and time was slipping away bigtime.

One of the issues was that Tony Hseih from Zappos was really clear that the character was supposed to be about customer service and company culture.  Zappos is not about shoes just like Amazon.com is not about books even though it started off as a book seller.  Hseih could not have been clearer on this issue that he does not think of Zappos as a shoe company but a service company.  In fact, their slogan is "Powered by Service."

Claudia really seemed to understand that and veered away from any story that had to do with magic shoes or anything like that.  She suggested a girl who had a drab and dreary life because of bad customer service who is transformed into Mizz Z who's mission is to deliver great customer service to the world.  I felt like Claudia had the best ideas and asked Khloe if she could divide us into groups.  I also told her that I thought Claudia really wanted to be on the writing team and that I would love to be on that part of the team as well (since I am not artistic).  Khloe agreed that Claudia had the best ideas for the writing, divided us into groups, and everything started to go really smoothly after that, well everything except that Joan got her nose out of joint that she wasn't doing the writing.  The way it ended up was that Joan, Tionne and Natalie did the design stuff.  Claudia, Melissa, me and Brande did the writing and then we all worked on the marketing stuff too (obviously, with Khloe contributing to and overseeing all of that).

The design team went off to the costume place in Brooklyn and me, Brande, Khloe, Melissa and Claudia stayed to do the marketing materials, write the story and the 4 panels and produce the take away materials.  Claudia got sick around 8 pm and, despite what they showed on the show, I was not upset with her going home.  In fact, I really felt like she should go home.  She was really sick! What I was upset with was that the design team went home at 8 pm.  They finished the costume stuff and did not come back.  And there were still 3 hours left till the end of the night.  Now Khloe told them they didn't have to come back when they asked her.  But still, they asked to go home and I was really pissed about it because we worked right down to the last minute and needed the help.  The complaints from me that you see on the show are actually about that, not about Claudia who was deathly ill.

I think Claudia did a good job on creating the skeleton of the story.  Melissa wrote the actual panels and did an amazing job, adding some very funny details like when the girl wakes up after being sucked into the computer she has the Z key from the computer stuck in her hair. Melissa also came up with the new slogan, "It's not just a Dream.  It's Zappos.com."  I think that slogan is awesome and Zappos should use it.

Brande was a total superstar on this challenge.  We had all these marketing materials to create and we were having trouble finding a printer who could produce them.  I had someone lined up but then they flaked and I felt like I had screwed that up. We wanted to provide a mousepad with the character on it, create poster boards of the panels, create a little take away comic book for the presentation and some other ancillary materials like word finds and an example of a blog and such for the Mizz Z blogosphere.  We couldn't do that without a printer, I had screwed up finding one but then Brande managed to find a printer last minute through her connections who was willing to work through the night to get the job done.  Brande totally saved the day on that. That is why you see me and Brande running around the streets of New York to pick up all those materials and put the packets together.

I think after Khloe took control of the room, she ended up doing a fantastic job as project manager and really got the job done. Rough start but great ending.

One thing they didn't show was how amazing Natalie Gulbis was on this challenge.  She did amazing research on the company before we went into the meeting with Tony Hseih and was really responsible for us knowing in advance that the shoes were not what he wanted to hear about.  She worked her ass off on the previous challenge as well and I am kind of sad that that is not coming through on the show yet.  She really was very committed and did an amazing job on both challenges and I wish that was showing through more. Instead, they just showed that she didn't like wearing the outfit.  But she did so much more than that on this challenge.

Now, on a closing note, I guess I have to address the fact that Joan Rivers called me an idiot. I don't really have  a response except to say that it was not my decision who did the writing in the room.  It was Khloe's.  I asked Khloe if Claudia and I could write (mainly Claudia since she had the best story).  Khloe could have said no. Khloe made the decision based on the ideas that were being expressed in the room, not based on past writing credits or Emmy nominations or whatever.  I understand that Joan wanted to write.  I get that she thinks I am an idiot. But her ideas about the character were not as good as Claudia's at the point that the decision had to be made.  Did I nudge Khloe to make a decision and get that room divided up?  Absolutely.  It was necessary to stop the chaos.  Did I in any way insist that Joan not be writing, as Joan claimed in the boardroom?  Of course not.

They really didn't show the full force of the attack on me in the board room. Joan really jumped on me in that room and was clearly very upset that she did not get to write anything and blamed it firmly on me.  I was shocked by that since I did not know prior to that how upset she was.  When Khloe had divided people up Joan did not speak up then.  She saved it for the boardroom. The other thing they did not show was that Brande Roderick defended me in that boardroom.  She was upset that I was being attacked when Joan had gone home at 8 pm and we had stayed right up until that 11 pm deadline and Brande and I had been running around to get the printing finished earlier than the other people on the team in the morning.  It was nice to know that at least one woman on that team liked me because I was really feeling at that point that no one liked me on that team at all.  I felt like I had no idea how to talk to these women and it was not going to get better and that no one on that team was getting me, was getting that I just really wanted our team to win.

I remember that after that boardroom, when I got back to my hotel room, I called up Joe and was just practically in tears.  I told him that I didn't care at that point if I got fired because the women all hated me and I didn't know how to fix it.  I told him I thought I would do better on the boys' team (remember I hadn't seen any of the footage of what a mess they were!) because maybe I could talk to the men better and they might understand me better. To Joe's credit, he calmed me down by the end of the talk, assured me I would figure it out and got me back into the mindset of wanting to win the game.  I had my brief meltdown and then Joe got me over it

So watch next week to see if I figure out how to get along with everyone better.  My biggest downfall is always the interpersonal stuff. Sunday will be a one hour episode but then the following Saturday they are going to show a two hour version of the episode which I hear is really funny so definitely try to check out the extended version!

Annie Duke is Spokesperson for www.ultimatebet.com - offering the best "Bad Beat Jackpots" in the business and top free cash bonuses

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