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Bren Olswanger becomes the thirteenth 'Apprentice 3' contestant to be fired


By Tim Andrews, 04/22/2005 

The players are different, but the name of the losing team remains the same -- for the eighth time in a row, Team Networth took the loss during last evening's The Apprentice 3 task challenge. As a result, Bren Olswanger, a 32-year-old prosecutor from Memphis, Tennessee, became the latest person fired by Donald Trump, just missing out on the final four and a chance to win a position working for one of The Donald's companies.

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NBC's thirteenth The Apprentice 3 episode began with The Donald summoning the remaining contestants to his office where he was entertaining executives from Staples. Once there, the contestants were informed that this week's task would involve creating a new office supply product that helped reduce office clutter, with the Staples executives determining the winner based on the practicality and creativity of the teams' designs.

Due to last week's firing of project manager Chris Shelton, Bren and Alex Thomason, two men who were originally part of the college-educated Magna team, were the last remaining members of Team Networth. Having previously achieved a 1-1 record as project manager, Alex volunteered to lead Bren in the task, feeling that it was "time to step up."

Over on the other team, Magna was down to three contestants, two of which were Tana Goertz and Craig Williams, original members of the high school-educated Networth team. Magna's final remaining contestant was college-educated Kendra Todd -- the only contestant to not to switch teams this season. With Kendra ineligible to lead due to her previous week's victory, Craig, who had successfully led his team to victory in the Home Depot design project, volunteered to become the project manager for this design task as well.

At Networth, things started off badly as in an effort to save time, Alex opted to not meet with the Staples executive team in person, but rather to arrange a conference call with them. Technology though, worked against them, as their cell phone appeared to have connection issues and the meeting was never able to take place. After failing to talk with the executives, they then proceeded to attempt an informal focus group of their own, once again using the phone as opposed to meeting face to face. This task, which Alex delegated to Bren, also proved itself fruitless, with few of the businesses that Bren contacted having any interest in discussing their office supply issues with an unsolicited telemarketer. Finally, after several false starts, Alex and Bren opted to just brainstorm on their own. Hamstrung by their occupations as lawyers, the duo appeared to struggle with the creative nature of the assignment, eventually settling on a creative but risky compartmentalized desk design.

Meanwhile at Magna, the formidable duo of Tana and Kendra once again went directly to the customers. Visiting a local Staples store, the two women questioned shopping office managers about what they really needed, with the informal focus group forming the basis of their subsequent creative designs. Things then became difficult as Kendra and Craig, who had previously had difficulty working with one another, continued to argue -- sometimes rather heatedly. Despite the squabbles, Magna pressed ahead with the task, using the customer input to design a desktop storage unit that incorporated several existing storage devices into a single rotating unit.

At the presentation, Magna showed off the versatility and ease of use of their product, and then addressed concerns raised by the focus group. Networth's demo also went well, however after it was done, they struggled in answering some of the focus groups pointed questions. In the end, while both teams were convinced that they had won the task, the Staples executives felt that Magna's product was far superior, sending Networth once again to the boardroom.

As a reward for their victory, Magna won breakfast with The Donald's long time assistants and boardroom stalwarts George Ross and Carolyn Kepcher. During the breakfast, the threesome learned that George in fact does have a sense of humor, and Carolyn has time for a life beyond of her responsibilities at The Trump Organization. While not the most lavish of rewards, this opportunity to informally interact with two of The Donald’s most trusted aids could prove helpful in the final weeks of the competition.

Before their boardroom session, Alex and Bren (who had started this episode by commenting on what good friends they had become) enjoyed one final night on the town together. As a contrast to earlier weeks, no negative comments were made by either teammate, with the duo mainly lamenting the fact that one of them would be leaving and how hard it would be going back to the suite without them.

In the boardroom, The Donald, George, and Carolyn all questioned the overly complex and confusing design of Magna's desk product. Both Alex and Bren defended the design, but given that it was Alex's idea, he was the one who took most of the heat. With Trump commenting that he might have been wrong about Alex, things were looking pretty bad for him, but then Bren spoke up, mentioning how he was learning to become comfortable taking risks. After stating how he was risk adverse, Trump appeared to pounce on Bren's comment, repeatedly coming back to the point before finally firing Bren because he did not think he possessed the entrepreneur instincts necessary to work in The Trump Organization.

Unlike its first two seasons, The Apprentice 3's final four contestants will now continue to compete as teams, with next week's task requiring the teams to "commemorate a staple of American fashion." And with two original book smart and two original street smart contestants left in the final foursome, The Apprentice 3's season-long attempt to see which of the two is more important still remains to be decided.

(Photo credit NBC)


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