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“I Think Donald Trump Really Wanted Me to Win”: An Interview with Sam Solovey of ‘The Apprentice’by Betsy Wasser -- 01/26/2004
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In just three episodes of The Apprentice, Sam Solovey quickly became one of the most interesting and entertaining figures on television. Donald Trump seemed to take a shine to him, keeping him in the game through two sessions in the boardroom. But in episode three, Trump sent Sam home. Sam was kind enough to talk to RealityNewsOnline about VersaCorp, Donald Trump, and his unconventional way of doing business.
RealityNewsOnline: Sam, thank you very much for taking the time to answer these questions for RealityNewsOnline. You seem to know a lot about Donald Trump. What, if anything, did you do to prepare for the show?
Sam: My only preparation was to read over 4,000 pages of background on Donald Trump, his family and his organization. I read books he wrote, those written about him, and even books written about his first wife, father, and grandfather. I read fifteen books in a two-week period. It shocks me that few of the other fifteen contestants did not fully research their potential employer. I don't know how you go on a job interview and not know everything about the person who may hire you. Knowledge is power and without it you might as well fire yourself.
RNO: During the lemonade challenge, you tried some different selling techniques – trying to convince a woman to do the selling for you, and attempting to sell a single glass for a thousand dollars. What made you try these strategies? Did you employ any other strategies that we didn’t see?
Sam: I tried these strategies because I knew the women had an extreme advantage when selling on the streets of New York. I think both men and women would prefer to buy from an attractive female. We had nothing to lose by going above and beyond traditional business methods. I came extremely close to selling that lemonade for a $1,000 and the young woman I hired actually sold about 10 glasses in a row before she headed home. Some of my other ideas included hiring strippers to sell the lemonade in bikinis, creating a circus-like atmosphere. I also suggested going over to Chelsea and selling to the gay community. We could have beaten the women at their own game. At one point, I asked Kwame, Bill, Troy, and Nick to take off their shirts and leave their ties on. This would have drawn the attention of female customers and may have worked as well. After all, sex sells. The women have proven that week after week.
RNO: When the men went to the boardroom after losing the lemonade challenge, some of them seemed to imply that you did something unethical, that you “went too far.” It wasn’t clear to viewers what they meant. Can you please explain?
Sam: It wasn't any clearer to me as to what they meant. Some of my colleagues felt offering the lemonade for a $1,000 went too far, and that I said to the customer he was buying a piece of the American Dream if he made the purchase. I did not think that was going too far as the buyer would have had a priceless story to tell his children some day.
RNO: How long did the boardroom sessions with Trump typically last?
Sam: For me, they felt like an eternity. Maybe we were in there for 45 minutes to an hour. Who knows? Long enough to make me feel completely frustrated and utterly exhausted.
RNO: In the second episode, Jason accused you of falling asleep on the job. What happened?
Sam: An active mind that goes unstimulated will ultimately fall asleep. Jason tucked my brain into bed during that episode. I was exhausted from having offered many ideas that went unacknowledged. My teammates just pushed me away. I knew early in that task that Jason was in deep trouble for choosing not to speak to the client and the head of the advertising agency. He gave me one small task to complete, and I successfully accomplished it. My teammates did not desire my involvement, so laying down on the floor for a few minutes was neither disruptive nor destructive for the purposes of completing their vanilla advertising campaign. I never fell asleep. I just didn't feel particularly well.
RNO: Why do you think no one greeted you at the door when you came home from the second boardroom session?
Sam: My team could have cared less what I was doing or where I was at that moment. They did not like me, finding me annoying, eccentric, and extremely out of place in their corporate-minded fraternity. It shocked me that the others were not curious as to my experience having come back from two battles alive. No one in the suite had an ounce of respect for me. I did not earn their respect, and they were too self-consumed and conventional to grant me even a little.
RNO: If you had another chance, would you have employed a different strategy as Project Manger in the negotiating challenge?
Sam: It would not have mattered what strategy I had used because my team did not believe in me and had zero confidence in my ability from the beginning. The only thing I could have done differently would have been to refuse the leadership role, knowing that without the respect of your team, success is nearly impossible. My team unanimously elected me their leader. It is far more shameful to elect a leader you do not respect than to fall short of the mark as an individual who failed by leading prematurely. My team wanted me out. If we had lost and I had refused the leadership role, that too could have caused problems for me. It was time for me to go.1 2 Next-->
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