October 05, 2016
So as we head into the new series one year on, I have been asked what it was like working with The Apprentice team and letting them take us over for a day.
I still remember that first call where the BBC would not talk to me without signing my life away. Once I did agree they were quite shocked at my reluctance to get involved - I mean really, you want me to hand over 7 years of hard work at one of the biggest shows of our year to a group of strangers. Mmm let me think.
To top it all off I was only allowed to speak with Lizanne to decide. Anyway we obviously said yes and then panic... As we headed into the National Pet show at Excel we knew there were no guarantees either team would want us - after all we knew the dog beds were a sure bet. However having had a camera crew swarming over us and interviews done with both teams - we agreed team Connexus could represent us for the day.
Being on the other side I needed gagging and holding back! We were unable to step in and help with anything. Now that was hard and no one was allowed to admit who or why the filming was taking place. Although surely the sight of Karen Brady and Claude Littner did give the game away somewhat. I have to say both were very professional and easy to talk to. It's so different in real life for sure.
I actually felt sorry for the team representing us, as they really do have to think on their feet and work so hard. I mean how many pet show visitors come out to spend over £500 on a cat tower without going away and thinking about things and planning etc. It was even harder as it was only the towers they were representing and of course the crowds gathering made it very hard indeed to get to our bedding range or shop for toys etc. Business was definitely affected and some were put off by the cameras. However I remained gagged knowing it was only for one day, as those around kept saying think of the PR and exposure etc.
The filming was all done over that day and a mad flurry at 5pm to try to get the final sales in. It was all hush hush between us and the teams and even the dog bed company we went head to heard with were not allowed to share data. Sunday and all back to normal and the official team were back in business. It was quite surreal as everyone wanted to have a chat and ask about it. We of course were unable to talk still...
Then of course the long wait to when the show was aired. Behind the scenes we had to make sure the website did not crash and social media would be buzzing. As they cut all branding out of sales we had to rely on viewers really wanting to know who we were. Obviously family now knew and very funny at times. I still remember calling Dad that night with Lizanne on loud speaker. He was hilarious as were our various siblings.
We were lucky enough a few days before the episode was to be aired on BBC 1 to see the preview episode, so we knew our team had lost. At first we were really disappointed at the result however it became very apparent that actually this was in our favour. The talk and buzz was all on the cat towers and how much!!?? The after show was simply jaw dropping and we will forever be...Alive Awake Enthusiastic..... aka Ruth!
Debates were taking place all over with mixed views ranging from I can't believe anyone in their right mind would consider spending £600 plus on a cat scratching tower. Right down to our hardcore customers who stated how these changed with cats lives and gave them a safe sanctuary to survey their domain from as well as provide hours of fun and exercise as safe and correct heights.
We know that our cat towers are expensive - the Rolls Royce of the cat world some would say... but we are proud of our family run business and pride ourselves on the level of service and customer care. The build quality is second to none and nothing in life when it's good quality is cheap I am afraid.
Asked whether we would do it again and are we millionaires now too? Yes we would do it again and we are already due to pop up on TV screens in Jan 2017 and perhaps there may be more appearances to come... so watch this space for news.
As for becoming a millionaire over night. That was never going to happen and we knew that. If only it was that simple - however it's put us on the map as a brand name and whether you agree or disagree on spending obscene amounts of money on your pampered feline friend, I am sure many more know our name since the airing of The Apprentice. Perhaps one or two have tried our bedding or toy range which is also luxurious but will not break the bank!
One person or should I say 'cat' who did enjoy his day was Santos. Now he is definitely well known and asked after... and boy does he know it. Taking his blog role very seriously indeed he now resides in top spot at Tigga Towers HQ and I am sure he will making a guest appearance or two in near future.
So that's a small insight into our role and involvement in The Apprentice. It came out of the blue and was fab fun regardless of the result and I am sure for a number of years to come we will still get the "I saw you guys on The Apprentice." We are looking forward to watching the new series!