Tara Dowdell becomes the sixth 'Apprentice 3' contestant to be fired
By Tim Andrews, 02/25/2005
In a task that seemed tailor-made for The Apprentice 3's street smart Networth team, project manager Tara Dowdell's insistence at accomplishing her own goals rather than those of the client cost her team the victory -- and herself a shot at becoming the next apprentice.
If the current Apprentice season is proving anything, it is the high-risk, high-reward nature of corporate leadership positions, with Tara Dowdell, a 28-year-old senior government manager from New York City, having become the fifth project manager (in six weeks) to be fired as a result of her team's failure to win the episode's task.
Despite the efforts several of her teammates to paint Audrey Evans as the weakest link, Tara was unable to successfully deflect the blame for the loss to any other team member during the group's boardroom session. In the end, Donald Trump’s decision was not unexpected, and Tara -- who had made it clear to everyone that she was executing her personal creative concept, not that of the rest of the team -- was fired accordingly.
The Apprentice 3's sixth episode began with the Networth and Magna teams learning of their new task -- to transform the blank exteriors of two Harlem buildings into graffiti wall ads for Sony Playstation 2’s race car game Gran Turismo 4. The task appeared to play to the strengths of the street smart Networth group, but Tara, who volunteered to lead the project, came in with a preconceived idea that the graffiti ad should be more representative of the community it would appear within than reflective of the product that it would be promoting..
Meanwhile Magna, led by Alex Thomason, initially did not seem to do any better. As has happened several times this season, the college-educated team once again struggled with direction and creativity until, in a stroke of genius -- or perhaps pure dumb luck -- they hit upon the idea of asking several of the neighborhood's potential game buyers for ideas as to the type of ad they'd enjoy. The informal focus group input appeared to make the difference for Magna, allowing they to incorporate the new eye-catching ideas while also promoting the product's game and brand name logos.
Over at Networth, the team remained constrained by Tara's initial vision, and while they were able to execute it with only minor issues in the form of a personality conflict between contestants Audrey and Craig Williams, the poor initial concept would ultimately prove responsible for their failure. Ironically, the design of the high school-educated Networth team looked more like artwork than the rougher looking counterpart created by the college educated Magna team, however Networth's design failed in the only area that mattered -- it did not convey the advertising message that the client was seeking.
In a unique reward for winning the task, the winning Team Magna members were given a photo shoot of themselves with noted magazine cover photographer Patrick Demarchelier. The Donald later joined the team for group shots, ensuring that even if this group fails to win, they will each have a nice 8x10 parting gift.
In the boardroom, Networth largely supported Tara at Audrey's expense -- with Craig, who’s personality conflict with Aubrey was the lone disharmonious note in the execution of the project, being the surprise exception and advocating Tara's dismissal. However the team support proved to no avail for Tara, as The Donald, armed the input from the Sony Playstation executives, came to the ultimate decision to fire the only person who could be held responsible -- the dominating project manager responsible for the graffiti design.