Monday, December 13, 2004

Why Sandy Isn't THE APPRENTICE -- and other lessons from Bernie Kerik incident

I will leave it to brighter minds than mine like A Red mind In A Blue State to explain to me why Bernie Kerik cannot work for George Bush, or why Scott Kazmir cannot pitch for the New York Mets.

I'm still trying to figure out why Sandy, the bridal shop owner got fired from THE APPRENTICE.

Sandy, who made the final four this year, got fired for flunking her job interview with Robert Kraft, and the other CEOs. They told the Donald that Sandy did not have the skills one needed to deal with CEOs in the boardroom. I thought, well of course she lacks those skills. That's why she applied to be the "Apprentice". If she had board room skills, she wouldn't need to be an apprentice, and she could go on the show called "The Board of Directors"

I'm miffed because if they were going to hold Sandy's lack of Fortune 500 experience against her, they shouldn't have let her start the process in the first place. The Final Four is very late in the day to bounce someone out over an issue that should have been clear in the initial application. I'm doubly miffed because last year, Amy made the quarter-finals and got fired due to the same interview process, and because of the same flaw in her initial resume. None of Sandy's or Amy's subsequent good work was apparently good enough.

There is a flaw in the interview process and it needs to be corrected.

Similarly, Scott Kazmir is no longer on the Mets, because the same people who drafted him with the first pick in 2003, decided in 2004, that he was too small to be a major league pitcher. His height was the same both years.

It was clear from the get-go that Bernie Kerik did not withdraw his nomination because of a nanny problem. In a world where the Attorney General designee wrote memos in favor of Gitmo and Abu Gharib and countless uses of the death penalty, it would have been easy for Kerik to say, "I've had experience with immigration matters, and I have already made my beginner's mistakes." No, Kerik is being bounced for reasons that would have come up during the same sort of credit check that I get when I try to open a credit card account at Target.

20 years ago, President Reagan nominated someone for an important position. I said to myself, "Don't they know that so-and-so does such-and-such." I never met the man, but mutual acquaintances would tell me about it in casual conversations on the street. If I know, if people are telling it to me as street corner gossip, and have been for years, well surely the FBI must know. It took another two weeks, but the FBI finally got off their hmm-hmms, and the candidate had to withdraw.

Interview processes are always flawed. One of the reasons I like THE APPRENTICE is because it confirms my experience in the corporate world, without too many of the long boring parts. The Donald can hire whoever strikes his fancy. It's his dime.

However, when we are talking about the public dime, when we are talking about life-tenured appointments, and Cabinet Secretaries and Homeland Security Advisors, and, when it comes up in my own experience with the people I know and the hiring and firing of school teachers, another standard has to apply --- The people who are doing the hiring and firing have to at least apply the standards that are used to hire at a temp agency or get a credit card for a low-level store.

The Department of Homeland Security and the FBI failed the test again.