An interesting interview with the contestant that surprised me the most. Tara Dowdell offers opinions on many subjects and is more fiery than I initially expected.
: So you went from being my favorite Apprentice…
Tara Dowdell: Oh, I was never your favorite…!
MJ: No, you were after our conversation last week and I had to rerank. Michael moved down to #2 and Kristen moved down to #3, but because you were 45 minutes late, Kristen is now at #1.
TD: Yeah, but Kristen was #3 so how did she skip over Michael?
MJ: Oh, that’s because I was mad at Kristen for talking too much because it took me a week and a half to type her transcript out (kidding Kristen!).
TD: You’re not the first person to say that! It’s a common theme.
MJ: It was a really good interview though, so you have a lot to live up to.
TD: I’ll try my best (sigh). I have to keep mine concise though. I am a woman of a few words.
MJ: Then you’ll lose because Danny and Kristen have set the bar pretty high. I just don’t want it to be a PC interview. I hate PC interviews.
TD: Just relax pal. Let’s get the party started. Whatcha got?
MJ: Let’s start with your background. Can you tell me about what you have done before the Apprentice?
TD: No. (Laughs). Just kidding. Currently I serve as the senior manager of government and community relations for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. I work specifically for the international shipping arm of the agency. The cargo ships, where the cargo ships come into the port. The port of New York and New Jersey. I manage the PR. My biggest project is the billion dollar redevelopment project that’s underway. Managing the PR for that. Working with local communities that surround the port that are impacted by some of the work that we are doing.
MJ: Is it true that you worked on the Gore campaign?
TD: That is true. Not only did I work on the Gore campaign, I worked on the campaign in Florida. I was in the middle of it all baby. That’s why I said the Apprentice is nothing.
MJ: How was the whole Florida deal for you?
TD: It was crazy, it was crazy. I was literally in the middle of history at the time and I didn’t know it. They put me in an area where I had a 40,000 vote disadvantage. I won my region by 19,000 votes. Because people were so shocked that we won (not the Democrats that I worked for), but the Republicans asked for a recount because they were wondering how it happened. I had that area rocking! The area that covered, there was literally a Gore sign on every lawn.
MJ: What area was that specifically in Florida?
TD: It was the South side of St. Peterburg. Some of Clearwater. I was a regional ‘Get Out The Vote’ person. The person that comes in toward the end of the campaign and the person whose sole responsibility is to get people out of their houses and out to vote.
MJ: How did you do that?
TD: I had people knocking on doors. Literally, I had this great system going. I had this campaign headquarters in this not-so-great area. I had these older women coming in and volunteering. They gave me this office in an area where I felt that we couldn’t get a lot of votes. I found this other office for literally nothing and these old ladies came and cleaned it up. They made the office beautiful. You remember the motel task?
MJ: I was just going to say that!
TD: It was just like the motel task. My office was the motel task. These little old ladies came in and they could teach Brian and Michael a thing or two. They came in and they literally did it in 24 hours. We had all the local kids (who didn’t have anything to do after-school) were in that office everyday. We had music going and we had them working, cranking it out. They were CRANKING it out. If you go to St. Petersburg and you ask people if they know Tara, they will say they know me.
MJ: Oh look at that! Is that the ego talking or is that just because of the amazing work that you did?
TD: 40,000 vote disadvantage! Numbers speak for themselves. You can’t refute the numbers.
MJ: I love it! My question is that for somebody who is workies on ferries and PR and stuff and Gore campaigns, what does that have to do with the mural and the PM status that you obtained? Did you have a background in that?
TD: None, whatsoever.
MJ: Why did you choose that task to step up on?
TD: Well, actually, I was asked to be project manager. I guess because they had to cut all those hours of footage down into 42 minutes, I guess they opted not to show that. John specifically asked me to be PM.
MJ: Why do you think he asked you?
TD: I think he was concerned that somebody else would be PM that he didn’t think would be up to the task.
MJ: Here we go…
TD: I don’t know who specifically.
MJ: Gee, I wonder who that might be.
TD: I am serious, I don’t know. He just kind of came up to me and I had missed what had happened before.
MJ: Weren’t you concerned? I mean if some guy came up to me and told me to become the PM, I would automatically be concerned because the PM is something that I would want to avoid considering that is the person that gets blamed if you lose.
TD: Yeah, yeah, yeah. The statistics were not on my side (laughs).
MJ: That’s why I was curious.
TD: I figured because I was from New York, I had some familiarity. I thought my familiarity with the neighborhood and the people would help.
MJ: But you weren’t concerned at all, that (out of all the people before you), the only person that was fired who wasn’t a PM was Michael.
TD: Yeah, and you’re right. But you don’t step up to be a PM unless you think you’re going to win.
MJ: So you were pretty sure that you had it locked?
TD: Yeah, I was pretty confident, but we see that it didn’t really work out that way now did it?
MJ: You seem to be pretty confident in general. Is that something that has been following you throughout your career?
TD: I am confident. Usually it pays off. In this particular instance, this was one of those times. 80% of the time it pays off and it is justified. Unfortunately this fell into the 20%. (Laughs).
MJ: See, I am watching the show and I am looking at the two murals. The Net Worth one and the Magna one. I thought artistically, yours was significantly superior. That’s why I still don’t understand why you guys would lose. That whole argument about how the Magna one would sell more games was garbage. I thought that you had the better mural which is what it should have been judged on, right?
TD: That’s what I thought that it was going to be ranked on too. I’ll admit that I made some mistakes on the task…
TD: I should have taken a more balanced approach. I should have definitely taken a more balanced approach. That’s the one thing. That’s really the main thing. I don’t think there is anything wrong with being a strong decision-maker. When you win, nobody says that you were too strong or too assertive. They only say that if you lose (laughs). Had I won that task, people would not be making the criticisms that they are making.
MJ: Is that what they are saying? That you were too strong and too assertive?
TD: Yeah, that’s what I heard. Not from the team. You know, reading the press clippings and stuff. No one says that when you win.
MJ: I’ve never heard a lot of criticism about you. That’s why I think that you were one of the more fascinating characters. In the first few episodes, people didn’t even know that you were on the show. They just kept confusing you and Verna.
TD: They always confuse the black people (laughs).
MJ: That’s why I initially thought you were going to go far. Looking at the editing, you were going to go far into the game because they just wouldn’t show you at all.
TD: Here’s the thing. I was doing really well. I think the fact that (in my boardroom) both John and Chris said that they wanted to keep me. And in the extended boardroom, everybody’s said Tara is a good leader INCLUDING Audrey. Actually her quote was that she was an “incredible leader.”
MJ: That was in your final one?
TD: Yeah, exactly. Mr. Trump went around the room and everybody said I was a good leader. No one could say otherwise. They didn’t show me much because if they did, they would have had to show that I was doing well and they had to justify me being fired sixth. They couldn’t show me kicking butt. In Task #5, I secured the casting director. I was the one that came up with the team name Net Worth. I secured the casting director in Task #5 and also in that task, I was the one that came up with the idea of the mobile casting business.
MJ: But they made it seem like Tana was the one that came up with the idea.
TD: They actually made it seem like it was Angie’s idea.
MJ: I don’t know, I thought that Tana was the superstar.
TD: Yeah, but it was my idea. To the point where I even got an e-mail from Tana saying ‘thanks for coming up with such a great idea.’
TD: I can forward it to you.
TD: Tana and Angie saw that they totally cut me out of that, considering that I was the one that was the strongest contributor.
MJ: Why would they cut that out? I would think that they would want to add more levels to your character.
TD: They didn’t want levels to it because they didn’t want people to develop a liking to it and then I am fired sixth. I am going to give you my theory right now. Mark Burnett is getting killed over his portrayal of African-American women.
MJ: Agreed, on all shows.
TD: Then you have an African-American woman that comes on, that’s kicking ass and she gets fired sixth. He had to set me up to look like I wasn’t as good as I was so that he wouldn’t have a public backlash about the fact that you finally have an African-American woman who got along with her team. Didn’t have any problems. And she’s good and you fired her?
MJ: I completely agree and this is why… I know you initially questioned when I said that I thought that you were one of the better players but I have been watching this for the last six years. Survivor, Apprentice, The Contender… all of the Burnett shows. Whereas I don’t think he made you look bad per se, the problem is that I don’t think he made you look good either. It was just like you were there. You weren’t doing anything. You were just there.
TD: Craig even said that when we were on the task, that I was one of the women that had a shot at this. Craig said that to me. Clearly, George, Trump and that Jill lady were coming down on me hard in that boardroom. John and Chris could have very easily gone with it and said ‘no, we don’t want Tara.’ Even Craig said (after I brought him in) that we need Tara for tomorrow. Why would all these people be saying that if I was “just there?” What do they care?
MJ: Let’s say you were a revisionist and you could go back right to the beginning of the game. What would you do differently? Not just in your episode, but I am sure there were people that got fired before you that you would have liked to see stay. It seems like Net Worth is now going crazy.
TD: Yeah, it doesn’t look too good now, does it?
MJ: No, it doesn’t. It does not look good at all.
TD: Don’t you think that it is rather coincidental that they are going down and certain people are missing?
MJ: Yeah, I do. Like I said, let’s say you could go back to Task #1. If you could fire anybody up to where you finished in the game, who would you fire?
TD: Who would I have fired?
MJ: Yeah, like Task #1, Task #2… instead of Brian and instead of Kristen and instead of you.
TD: Well, I would have fired Audrey because if you want to go with people who aren’t contributing as much, I would have fired Audrey. That’s obvious because I brought her into the boardroom. Kristen brought her into the boardroom AND Brian was going to bring her into the boardroom. The fact that three completely different personalities were going to bring her into the boardroom. She didn’t get along with Brian. She didn’t get along with Kristen. She didn’t get along with me. She didn’t get along with Craig. She didn’t get along with Chris. She didn’t get along with John and she turned on Angie! She brought Angie into the boardroom for no reason.
MJ: I thought she brought Angie into the boardroom for back-up, since she was afraid of the attack that the other two guys (John and Chris) were going to launch.
TD: Yeah, but shouldn’t she have told her in advance?
MJ: And she didn’t?
TD: Well, you saw Angie changed her mind and said that she would fire Audrey.
MJ: Yeah, I saw that and I didn’t understand. I just thought that was editing. I was sure Angie was in on the plan.
TD: I don’t think she was, because if she did know about it, she wouldn’t have told Trump to fire Audrey. Remember that Angie doesn’t get along with Craig or John either. Wouldn’t she want to keep Audrey around? Angie got double-crossed.
MJ: Would you keep Brian and Kristen there, or would you fire other people instead?
TD: Ideally I would have kept all of us and hoped that the other team would keep getting fired. Ideally you hope that everybody from Magna goes.
MJ: Let’s say you kept going to the boardroom, I am interested in your ranking.
TD: I don’t think that you could have Brian and Kristen on the same team.
MJ: So who would you nix?
TD: I don’t know. I actually like both of them. I think they both have good hearts. I think that they are tough and people saw one side of them, but they are the types of people that if they like you, they will give you the shirts off their back. At their core, they are good people.
MJ: What about rest of the team? What do you think about the other people that are still there?
TD: I think John is good. I think Angie has a great creative eye that they didn’t highlight. On her task, they didn’t give her much credit either (the Nescafe task). They totally blew that over. Her idea was very good and they didn’t give her much airtime on that. Tana’s a sweetheart. Chris is cool but somehow he has these episodes in the boardroom, that I am not really clear on just yet.
MJ: Yeah, everybody keeps talking about how explosive he is but I have only see him get really angry once.
TD: George notices it because he always calls on Chris. He’s like ‘Chris, you haven’t said anything insanely irrational yet, what do you have to say?’ (Laughs). ‘Chris, you haven’t blown up yet… what do you think happened on the task?’ (Laughs).
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