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Monday, October 31, 2005

Someone should definitely be fired


I'm not the world's biggest Martha Stewart fan, but I'm a fan of The Apprentice, and the fact is that her version of the show isn't bad at all. I enjoy it just about as much as I enjoy the Donald Trump version. There's a little awkwardness at the end of each episode, when you're itching for her to say "You're fired!" and instead, you get some variation of "You'll have to leave" or "This just isn't going to work out," more of a breakup than an actual firing, really. But that's not a big deal, and the letters she writes to the jettisoned contestants are a neat little gimmick, very in keeping with her persona.

So why is it that her show isn't doing very well in the ratings?

The bottom line is that it was a boneheaded idea to put it on during the same time as Donald's version of the show. I'm an Apprentice fan, but two episodes a week, with twice as many people to keep track of in a very similar group of circumstances (Hey, honey? That woman with the glasses who complains a lot and who we think probably went to Emerson College because she mentioned coming out of a Writing, Literature & Publishing Department--was she on the Martha show or the other one? I sure can't remember.) is a bit more than I'd like to keep track of. It's oversaturation.

Had it been up to me, I would have let Donald's current season run its course. Assuming that he intends to come back for another season, I would have dropped Martha in as a corporate client sometime in the run of Donald's show, letting her get some screen time there and letting the two of them interact and build each other up. Toward the last episode or two, I would have started teasing Martha's mid-season run of The Apprentice (no name change), to begin in December or January or February or whatever, in the same time slot. And then I would have run her season much the way it's been run--with her own take on things, her own theme song, her own theming, but in the Thursday time slot without the competition from the same show. It would have worked better for both shows. Then they could alternate seasons, maybe each doing one or two a year or something like that, without invading each other's space.

If I were to pull the project managers behind The Apprentice into the board room, I'd zero in on whose decision it was, ultimately, to have the shows run simultaneously, becoming competitors instead of partners. That, ultimately, would be the person who would hear the words "You're fired," that week.

And receive a nice, tasteful note afterward.

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