|The Apprentice episode|
|Task:||Create an accessory for dog owners|
|Project Managers:||Rory (Eclipse)|
|Airdate:||April 4th 2007|
|Series Three Tasks:|
Week Two saw the teams designing an accessory for dog owners, with a guideline price of £29.99. They would be pitching to three retailers, namely Harrods, specialist supplier Pets and the City, and market leaders Pets at Home.
Having volunteered to lead Eclipse, Rory started the task by lecturing his team on the discipline he expected from them, and told them that anyone who even slightly misbehaved would be sent away from the main group for 15 minutes. A large brainstorming session for design ideas then followed, and Rory made the unusual demand that everyone in the team remove their jackets while he kept his on, in order to denote who was the leader. After obtaining a large volume of ideas, Rory sent a sub-team of Simon, Jadine, Lohit and Ifti off to carry out market research, while he, Tre, Adam and Paul sorted through the design list. Ultimately, Rory rejected the entire list and put forward his own design of a shoulder strap for dog walkers, called the Pooch Pouch, which had pockets available for leads, balls, water bottles and other items. He then called the research team and informed them that the idea was finalised, and that whatever research they had would not be taken into account in the product design, instead it would only be used for the presentations. Shortly afterwards, Simon had a discussion with a shopper in a Pets at Home store, and from that discussion had an alternate idea - a dog blanket that could be placed on sofas, and would prevent dog hairs getting on the sofa.
Simon contacted Rory to suggest the idea, but a brief check on the internet revealed several hits for similar products. Rory allowed Simon to present both ideas to a focus group, but had no intention of accepting Simon's idea and in fact thought the focus group would reject it. At this point Tre started arguing with Rory and told him that he needed to make a decision and tell the sub-team to research either one item or the other, but Rory insisted on not upsetting the research team and letting them do what they wanted. The argument continued for much of the day and when Rory's half of the team arrived at a design agency, they only vaguely knew what they intended to produce (the Pooch Pouch). After they had bought the materials necessary to produce a prototype Pooch Pouch, the research team finally called Rory and revealed that the focus group had roundly rejected the Pooch Pouch and thought the blanket was a far better idea. However, Rory reminded Simon of what he had said earlier, that their research would not affect the product development, and curtly informed him that they would be going with the Pooch Pouch before hanging up on Simon. Back at the house, arguments erupted first between Jadine and Ifti, who it turned out had a degree in product design yet had contributed nothing to the design brainstorm because he "wasn't feeling up to it," and then another major argument between Tre and Rory over whether Rory was Tre's "boss" or just his project manager.
The following morning, Eclipse arrived at the design agency to pick up the finished Pooch Pouch, although when Rory tried to demonstrate to the team what it would look like when an owner threw a ball from one of the pockets, Tre commented that it looked more like a soldier tossing a grenade at someone. Eclipse's presentations to the retailers went relatively well, with Pets and the City and Harrods praising the product, although Pets at Home seemed a bit less enthusiastic and had concerns that £29.99 wouldn't be the right price point for such a product.
Katie immediately split off a research team containing Kristina and Ghazal, and kept the remainder of the team back for a brainstorming session. Their initial idea was suggested by Naomi, and would have been a backpack for dog walkers. However, this idea was dropped when Kristina reported that it probably wouldn't sell for that price at Pets at Home, the largest of the three retailers, and that they should be looking to create something a bit more substantial for the price. Just before arriving at the design agency Stealth came up with another idea, again suggested by Naomi and fleshed out into a design by Sophie, which was a dog-themed cupboard that had compartments for food, treats and toys.
Stealth's pitches to Harrods and Pets and the City met largely the same response, namely that it wasn't something their average customer would want to buy. Their pitch to Pets at Home (their main target) was therefore essential, although it was threatened when Ghazal froze up and had difficulty making the presentation.
Tre was quick to criticise Rory's leadership and the way he dismissed all the team's other ideas in favour of the Pooch Pouch, and Paul also criticised him for a lack of direction. Stealth were more positive about Katie's performance as team manager, though Sir Alan questioned Ghazal on her performance in the presentation to Pets at Home. The sales to the three retailers were then revealed; Eclipse had secured orders totalling 100 Pooch Pouches from Harrods and Pets and the City, but Stealth failed to make any sales to either of those retailers. Critically though, Pets at Home ordered 2000 dog closets from Stealth and no Pooch Pouches from Eclipse, which resulted in a major victory for Stealth. Sir Alan told Eclipse that they had fallen victim to a red herring within the task, namely that they were so blinded by selling to a prestigious store like Harrods that they failed to realise that Pets at Home was the one they should have been aiming for. Stealth's reward was a meal at the Dorchester Hotel.
Eclipse returned to the boardroom and were quizzed on their alternate idea, the dog blanket, which Rory dismissed as not being innovative or exciting. Sir Alan was less than complimentary about the Pooch Pouch however, likening it to something that Rambo would wear and saying that it was the kind of thing that only "an original nutter" would want to wear. He also reminded Rory of his failure to target the biggest retailer, but Rory attempted to claim that Sir Alan was wrong by saying that Pets at Home didn't sell anything at the £29.99 target price, only for Sir Alan to point out the fallacy in Rory's argument with the fact that they had bought 2000 of Eclipse's dog cabinets. Adam stated that Eclipse had gone about the task the wrong way, doing the research after the product design instead of the other way round, and by having everyone in the group discussing ideas rather than allowing the ones with design experience to lead. This led Sir Alan to question Ifti on his contribution to the task, only for Ifti to quietly reply that he hadn't done much on the task. Sir Alan then asked who was ultimately responsible for the task's failure, and Tre blamed Rory, who in turn blamed Tre for disrupting the team and being overly argumentative. Just as it looked like another major argument was going to occur between the two, Sir Alan headed it off by asking Rory who he would be bringing back, and he selected Tre and Ifti.
After the three returned to the boardroom, Ifti was asked why he hadn't felt up to contributing. Ifti admitted that he had been missing his family and, perhaps surprisingly, was instantly fired. Even more surprisingly, after Ifti had left Sir Alan told Rory and Tre that as unusual as it was, one of them would still be fired. In his taxi interview, Ifti said that he thought he could have done well on the show, but wasn't willing to compromise his principles as a family man.
Upon being asked to justify why he shouldn't be fired, Rory started talking in an excess amount of detail about his leadership decisions. Sir Alan stopped him and demanded a more concise explanation of why he deserved to remain in the competition, but Rory was only able to say that he felt fully justified in making the decisions that he had done. Tre was then invited to, in Sir Alan's words, "make mincemeat out of [Rory]" and launched into an extensive list of criticisms about his leadership, unwillingness to give firm instructions and overbearing management style. Rory's rebuttal to this consisted solely of accusing Tre of being argumentative and disruptive. In his final analysis, Sir Alan said that he agreed with Rory, and that Tre was very brash disruptive. However, he branded Rory himself "a total, absolute disaster" and fired him. The unusual spectacle of Tre returning to the house on his own followed, and in his own taxi interview, Rory admitted that he had spent too much time in the boardroom criticising Tre, and not enough justifying why he deserved to remain in the competition himself.