Annie Duke’s Apprentice Recap

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Annie Duke

I am at San Jose playing the Bay 101 WPT Shooting Stars event.  I finished the WSOP Academy this weekend and then got a plane with Andy Bloch, John Juanda, The Bingers, Mike Matusow and Chad Brown.  I rushed to my hotel after we landed, met Joe at my hotel (he met me here from LA yay!) and then we ran out to dinner since we were both super hungry.  The service was so slow that it took us forever to get our food so I actually missed the first 20 minutes of Apprentice tonight...grrrrrrrrrrrrr.  But I blog on anyway like the tropper I am, lol.

So, I want to talk about the boys' team first because they were much, much more interesting this week than the girls.

Holy crap!  There...that is my whole blog about the men's team on this challenge.  Seriously. Holy crap! obviously we don't get to see what is happening over on the KOTU side during the actual taping of the show so imagine our surprise when we got in the boardroom and found out Rodman hadn't even shown up for the day of the selling and that Tom Green, as project manager, had gone out drinking the night before with Rodman and was late to his own challenge.  Watching it on TV I felt really bad for Herschel having to wander from bar to bar with Rodman when Herschel doesn't even drink.  That looked nightmarish and I think there is going to more footage of that in the 2 hour version on Saturday.  I am definitely going to watch that longer episode with rapt interest.

So, Rodman doesn't even show up the day of, claiming a dog allergy or a cat allergy or something (he kept changing the story) but I am pretty sure it was just a hangover or an allergy to vodka cranberry lol.  I am not even sure if Rodman raised any dough for the men.  It seemed like a logical firing to me (obviously since I bet Brande) but I was wrong because I didn't know till right at the end that Tom had not even raised any money as PM.  I think it was a big mistake to to be PM on a money raising challenge and not raise money yourself.  From last season I had seen that was an almost sure way to get fired.  I was so surprised Tom raised no money because he had raised a ton of money on the first challenge.  But he may have blown all his resources right away.  Tom said, as a defense in the boardroom, that he was taking a non-traditional approach to being project manager.  I guess by non-traditional he meant letting Rodman wander around the NYC bar scene, then joining him late into the night the day of your challenge and not raising any money on a money raising challenge.  Yes, non-traditional, but not the perfect recipe for sticking aorund in the game.

I think Trump had a tough choice between Rodman and Tom.  Do you fire the guy who doesn't even show up?  Who should have been put in a wedding dress to promote the event and bring in business since that is what he is already famous for?  The guy who refuses to answer the door when his PM is trying to get him up in the morning?  Or do you fire the project manager who defends that guy?  Who enables the behavior by going out and drinking late into the night?  Who shows up late himself, hungover?  And who raises no money?  I think that whichever way Trump had gone on this one he would not have been wrong.  I mean who else on the men's team would you fire?  Clint who brought in $35K? Herschel who not only raised a ton of money but was forced into the baby sitting role for Rodman?  Brian and Jesse who did nothing wrong and worked hard the whole challenge?  I mean, just the fact that they showed up should save them from being fired.  So Tom or Dennis.  Flip a coin.  Trump chose Tom.  Right choice.  But I would say the same thing about Rodman too.

So, Team Athena.

Okay.  So I am hardly in this show...yay!  After the last two shows I was really happy to be in the background.  That was actually part of my strategy.  I wanted to come out early and get noticed by Trump which I felt was very important since I am definitely one of the least well-known people on the show.  Because of that I wanted to make a little noise, backed up with hard work and fundraising of course, right away.  But I also planned ahead of time to change gears after accomplishing that goal and lay back for a while.  I mean work hard, raise money, but put my head down.  In poker changing gears is a very important concept.  If you establish a loose, crazy image you can leverage that to your advantage by changing gears for a bit and playing tighter. Or vice-versa.  Players at the table will still give you credit for being wild and will misplay you because of it since it takes them a while to see the gear change.  In most games changing gears is a very important strategic play and this was my first chance to execute that. I was planning to do that on the Zappos challenge but the chaos in the room really forced me to make the choice between risking losing the task or sticking my nexk out to get Khloe to step up and divide up the room.  I chose the latter, pissed people off in the process (particular Joan) but Athene won the challenge so I feel like I made the right choice there.  But now I had a chance to do what I meant to do in task 2 and lay back.

First, I was really happy Brande was project manager on this one because she and I had really bonded by this point and were good friends.  I might have even nudged her a little in the direction of PM (wink wink) but in doing so I promsied her a would raise a ton of money for her.  Having Brande as PM was really going to help with with my no conflict strategy for the episode.  Plus, I just really wanted Brande to get the W because I was very much rooting for her by that point.

Natalie Gulbis (another player I was totally rooting for) and I spent most of this challenge together.  I had lunch with Natalie this weekend and she told me that Brande had asked her to go off with me to do the task of geting the flyers designed, printed up and handed out around NYC because, as Brande put it, Natalie was the only one who didn't hate me!  Ha ha!  Very smart move, Brande, because that was true at that point.  I think Natalie and Brande WERE the only ones who thought I had some redeeming qualities! That I was just too direct and too tough and too head strong for my own good but that I also worked hard and really cared about keeping my team out of the boardroom and had no ill intentions or mean spiritedness to what I was doing.  I love those chicks and I love that Brande saw what was happening and sent me off with someone who I had a good relationship with.

Natalie and I went off as a team and took care of the flyers and the printing and what not (of course fundraising all the while by making phone calls).  When we first went off to go to the printer Natalie and I had a great chat where I was talking about how most of my team hated me.  I said at the time that my main goal right then was to figure out how to not piss everyone off (particularly because I actually liked the people on my team at that point in the game).  I wanted to be a TEAM.  It was hard (even if it was part of my strategy) to feel such animosity and I really worked this whole episode on just trying to repair relationships.  It was a good lesson for me to learn how to soften up my communication and learn to come at people a little more sideways rather than right directly in their faces and I think I really grew a lot in that way. Changing gears really worked out well for me here. Not only was it personally important to me but also strategically key.

Natalie and I also had some amazing personal conversations about being women sports figures.  I mean, obviously, she plays an actual sport and I play a "sport" but we have a lot in common in that way in terms of that and it was really nice to talk with someone who lived a similar life.  Natalie is a really sweet girl but she is also really together on her career and how she manages that and her business life.  She is so sharp about that.  Impressive, really. I also got to learn about how she started playing golf. Her family didn't have money and her dad used to work nights.  He was an avid golfer so the only way that Natalie really got to spend quality time with him was to go out and play golf with him whenever she could.  It became clear pretty early that she was super talented and her family started focusing on nurturing her golf.  She played her first pro event as a teenager!  So crazy.


Phew! Because this week was just about fundraising, I knew I could lay back more this episode because I had no opinion about how to sell wedding dresses and I knew this episode was just about making phone calls to raise money.  That I knew I could do...quietly and with my head down.  So I immediately called my friend, Perry Friedman.  He is in a really serious relationship with his girlfriend, Robyn, and I thought now there is a guy who needs a wedding dress!  Perry lives on the west coast so I called him and he booked the red eye to get there in time to by a $10K dress for Robyn (who looked beautiful!).  Perry also tried a dress on because he was acting as proxy for my friends Rafe Furst and his fiance Laura (who just got married in March.  Congratulations!) so he needed to buy them a dress too.  Rafe was traveling around Europe but he agreed to buy a $5K wedding dress and Perry was nice enough to front him the dough (they are good friends).  Perry looked ravishing, by the way. I brought in another $20K on top of that for a total of $35K...Mission accomplished!  No arguments.  Raised lots of money.  Done.

Brande Raised a ton of money herself and did a great job as project manager.  Unlike the chaos of the beginning of the previous Zappos task, Brande assigned jobs right away (I was her secretary to start!) and that made the task so calm.  Joan missed the first day but she and Melissa got Preston Bailey to come and fix up our space to great effect.  The space was really pretty (particularly compared to the boys' space which looked like a warehouse).  Everything was just super calm leading up to the actual sales day.

On the sales day, Melissa and Tionne were total superstars, working with all the girls who came in to try on the dresses.  they were in the dressing rooms, kneeling on the floor, as these brides to be tried on like 10 or 20 dresses each.  They were both exhausted from doing that all day and they were both superstars with that. Natalie got Judith Ripka (the jewelry company) to come donate a jewelry display so the brides could try on jewelry with their dresses.  She also got them to make a pretty nice donation as well.  Khloe brought in really good money, too, by getting her sister Kourtney to come down with a donation.  She obviously was also really good at wrangling the people to come in our store.

Joan and Melissa brought in a $25K check from QVC but I always had a bone of contention with that check.  I mean, don't get me wrong, totally awesome that Athena got that huge donation.  Amazing for Brande's charity and I am very grateful to QVC for the check. It was incredibly generous. My problem was that both Joan and Melissa took credit for it.  So Joan said she raised $25K AND Melissa said the same thing.  But that adds up to $50K.  They can't both take credit for the whole thing, right?  Either Joan raised $25K or Melissa raised $25K or they both raised $12.5K a piece.  I never did figure out which it was because both kept taking credit for it.

One thing that was really interesting for me was to see how much the girls on my team loved this challenge.  I was actually kind of bored to tell you the truth.  Bored because I didn't see this task as intellectually challenging at all.  I mean it really didn't matter if we were selling wedding dresses or engine blocks or cupcakes or unicycles.  It was not about promoting the product.  It was about fundraising.  Calling people and getting them to come and donate to charity (which, luckily, my friends are all very eager to do because they are so committed to giving).  But it was irrelevent what the rest of the task was or what specifically we were selling.  That was just window dressing. Or wedding dressing I guess.  So when I was asked about whether or not I liked this challenge in my private interview I said no.  That I had not found it intellectually stimulating at all and was a bit bored (except for the great time I had Natalie).

Now...when we got in the boardroom Trump asked the women what they thought of the challenge and they all declared it was their very favorite one. I thought, "Shit I am in trouble.  I am so weird." I mean I realized right then and there that I am not your normal kind of chick...but it takes a pretty weird lady to play poker for a living so no surprises there anyway.  I just thought it was so funny that I had spent my whole interview complaining about the challenge and it turned out everyone on my team loved loved loved it (I liked the Zappos challenge much better despite the chaos because it was so intellectually satisfying).

Anyway...made it through another week and repaired some relationships in the process!  I am looking forward to watching the longer version of this episode on Saturday to see more of the Rodman/Greene show.  I'll be back Sunday to give my two cents on the longer version.

As a closing note...yay Perry, Robyn, Rafe and Laura.  I love you guys! Xoxo

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