Flynn. Comey. Bharara. Gorka. Priebus. Bannon. Spicer. Scaramucci. Almost Jeff Sessions and now, Price. Could Secretary of State Rex Tillerson be next on the chopping block? Washington’s revolving door of ousted Trump employees has been compared to the TV show, Survivor. No one knows who will be the last man standing.
I too have felt Donald Trump’s wrath. I was fired in the Trump Tower boardroom on season 5 of The Apprentice. But before that moment, I observed the future president’s rules and expectations for his employees in both The Trump Organization and his reality TV production. I learned—although not quickly enough to save my own skin—which work place behaviors, words, and attitudes angered Trump and what caused an employee to immediately fall from grace. Ever pertinent today, here are 8 tips on how NOT to get fired by Donald Trump.
1.) Don’t explain or complain.
If he has you in his crosshairs for doing something wrong, just be quiet. You can’t talk your way out of a potential firing. You will only make things worse if you present the Boss with excuses. Trump doesn’t like whiners, complainers, or employees who defend themselves. So just keep your fingers crossed and your mouth shut. He might get distracted by another fire long enough for him to forget about firing you.
2.) Facts don’t matter. Only the Boss’s narrative matters.
Crowd size, neo-Nazis are “fine people,” Mexican immigrants are rapists, Hillary belongs in a jail cell… As an Apprentice, if you didn’t stick to Trump’s script chastising your “terrible” work performance, even after you made your numbers or sold out your product, you lost your seat in the boardroom. Take note, Trump Administration employees: If you can’t get your facts to align with his narrative, it’s time to pack your briefcase.
3.) Self-promotion is good, as long as you don’t promote yourself more than Trump.
Trump respects people who tout their high profile careers, fancy pedigrees, or Ivy League education. On the show, he encouraged us to brag about our accomplishments. Just don’t toot your own horn to the point that you get more attention than the Boss. Otherwise, he will be quick to remind you that you got to where you are because of him. And, if he has to remind you, then “You’re fired!”
4.) You should push someone aside to impress the Boss.
Remember the NATO summit where Trump pushed the prime minister of Montenegro aside to get the center spot in a photo with world leaders? On The Apprentice, Trump was impressed when we elbowed past each other to get the seat closest to him. The President loves a take-no-prisoners attitude. If you act like a wuss in front of the Boss, you are out.
5.) Always remember who is the Boss.
In the boardroom scenes on The Apprentice, Trump asked Ivanka or Bill Rancic (the first Apprentice winner) their advice on who should be fired—but he never listened. In fact, most of the time they just concurred with Trump’s conclusions about the strengths and weaknesses of the candidates. If Trump wants you out, no one can save you. He always makes his own decisions.
6.) Always have an exit plan, even when things are going well.
If you work for Trump, always mentally prepare for the possibility that your next day could be your last day. Your exit will not be comfortable. When I was fired, I was escorted out of the boardroom into an elevator, down into the basement of Trump Tower and driven out of the building. It took 10 seconds for the door to be sealed behind me, and I was out on the street. It will be hard to leave on your own terms if your time is up, but if you are always prepared for your possible employment demise, the door won’t hit you as hard on the way out.
7.) Don’t overshadow the Boss.
I’m talking to you, Steve Bannon. As soon as Steve was accused of being the person actually running the country, his days were numbered. There is only one star in this White House.
8.) Don’t call out your colleagues for their poor work performance before the Boss does.
This one is for you, Anthony Scaramucci. I learned from The Apprentice that placing yourself in Trump’s spotlight by calling out your colleagues for their shortcomings is dangerous. That’s Trump’s job, and he will not hesitate to turn the tables and blame you instead. As soon as Scaramucci went off the rails to a reporter about “schizophrenic” Reince Priebus and self-serving Steve Bannon, the communications director was swiftly terminated. Trump doesn’t need help criticizing his own people, and he doesn’t want you to make him look bad for his personnel choices.
Stacy Schneider is a New York City-based trial attorney and author who has provided legal analysis for Fox News, Fox Business News, CNN and HLN for more than a decade. She is the recipient of the Thurgood Marshall Award for Exemplary Service to the Cause of Justice in the United States.