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F*** The Leaders
Travis Eberle

Going back to the days of elementary school, everyone knows how you'd divide up teams for a playground game: two people are picked as captain, and they go back and forth until everyone is on a team. I was usually dead last for whatever the game was, be it kickball, football or whatever. But when we went inside and played spelling baseball for review, I was always first. So I knew which side of bread was buttered. But I'm OK with that now. I've gotten past the bitterness.

Really, I have.

So, what does that have to do with "The Apprentice"? Whenever a team is badly outnumbered, Donald calls for a "corporate restructuring". Whether it's having one person go to the shorthanded team, or jumbling up the teams completely, something always shakes up the game. I understand why it's done, and yet I have problems with it.

It's hard for a team that has two members to compete against a team of five. But on Mark Burnett's other show, particularly this season, the short team has to make do, usually by having people sit out of particular challenges. Why change the rules for a different show, especially when the formats are so similar. If these people are really the top 18 contenders, they should be able to make this work, whether they have nine employees or two. But what's done is done. It makes for better television too: at least the losing team now has a fair shake, and won't get stomped into the ground.

So, now let's take a look at the how, as opposed to the why. When it comes time for someone to change teams, the shorthanded team gets to pick who will join them. This goes against everything that makes sense in terms of fair play, good gamesmanship, and plain ol' common sense. "Let's let the team that's getting whupped pick someone to even things up."

Nuh uh.

The fair and just thing to do would be... well, actually that would be to have the shorthanded team have to play with fewer teammates. They lost, they should have to suffer some sort of penalty for it, and not be rewarded for their ineptitude. The Expos didn't get to draft Ichiro Suzuki. They got sent to Washington, D.C. instead. In the real business world, you don't get to steal employees without giving something in return or getting a call from the feds.

A slightly more fair way to execute what Mark desires would be to a) allow the winning team to decide for themselves who to send over, or b) to have it be a random draw of some sort.

I know it's a big hit, and I love to watch the show each Thursday night, along with the other millions. But it irks me to see a winning team sunk like that because the producer has some hare-brained idea about making it a better show. It's supposed to be a job interview, not a weekly serial farce, though it's been like that for a few weeks now. But that's another OTB for another time.

Travis Eberle, who also thinks that his hometown Mariners leave little to be desired, can be reached at

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