The Apprentice: New Business for Reality TVby Betsy Wasser -- 12/29/2003
The world of reality TV is full of competition. We’ve seen contestants compete against the elements and against each other on Survivor. We’ve seen contestants compete in an around-the-world race on The Amazing Race. We’ve seen contestants compete for romance on The Bachelor and a number of other dating shows. And we’ve seen contestants compete for fame on American Idol and other talent shows. But on NBC’s newest reality TV show, The Apprentice, contestants will be competing for something different entirely: a $250,000-a-year dream job working for Donald Trump. The show premieres on Thursday, January 8, at 8:30/7:30 Central, then moves to its regular night and time, Wednesdays at 8:00/7:00 Central on January 14th. The show is executive produced by reality TV master Mark Burnett, the man who brought us Survivor and The Restaurant.
The sixteen aspirants for the job come from all walks of life, from MBAs to graduates of the school of life. Every week they will compete against each other in various tasks that will incorporate aspects of business, such as sales, marketing, finance, real estate deals, and the like. They’ll be given challenging tasks and a limited amount of time to complete them. To add to the pressure, they’ll be observed by either Trump himself or a member of his staff. Candidates who do not complete the task successfully will have to face Trump and key members of his staff. At the end of each episode, one candidate’s dreams will be dashed as he or she is fired. To make matters even more complicated, the candidates will all live together in a luxury apartment.
Donald Trump is one of the most successful businessmen in America. He owns some of the most prestigious buildings in New York City, operates a number of successful casinos, and partners with NBC to own and broadcast the Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, and Miss Universe pageants. He has also written four best-selling books.
The sixteen candidates are profiled on the NBC website, but I’ll hit the highlights for each of them:
Heidi Bressler, 30, Philadelphia, PA. Heidi is a senior account executive for Qwest and is one of the top sales reps in her region. She defines success as being happy both professionally and personally. Two people she admires are her grandmother… and Howard Stern. The cartoon character she most relates to is Angelica from Rugrats. If Heidi is anything like Angelica, we can expect her to be tough, opinionated, and at least a little bit bossy.
Katrina Campins, 24, Coral Gables, FL. Katrina has been a successful real estate agent since the ripe old age of 18. She admires her mother and Oprah Winfrey and relates to the Road Runner. More interestingly, she’s quoted as saying, "A woman that claims she doesn't use her sex appeal to sell, simply hasn't learned how to use it to her advantage." I’m pretty sure I’m going to hate her.
Jessie Conners, 21, New Richmond, WI. Jessie has had a challenging life, having lived on a farm with no electricity or running water and in a Mexican orphanage. Her perspective on success is a little different from the other candidates, since she mentioned realizing every day that you have electricity as one of the ways you know you are a success. That said, she admires Bubbles of the Powerpuff Girls and would like to "live out my days wearing cute clothes, and flying through the air conquering evil." Jessie has certainly lived an interesting life, so I suspect she’ll be very resourceful.
Jason Curis, 24, Detroit, MI. Jason is another real estate mogul. He admires his father for being successful both personally and professionally. The cartoon character he most relates to is Durk the Daring from Dragon’s Lair. I have never heard of that cartoon, so Jason remains a bit of a mystery to me.
Kristi Frank, 24, Bel Air, CA. Kristi is another real estate broker. She considers success to be when you have a passion for what you do. She’s obviously cool because she’d love to fly like Superman.
David Gould, 31, New York, NY. David is a venture capitalist who has both an MBA and an MD. So, I’m thinking the guy might be pretty sharp. However, his definition of success is "Not working for The Man." I’m not sure how working for The Donald fits into that definition.
Amy Henry, 30, Austin, TX. Amy works in the tech sector and lost bazillions of dollars worth of stock options in the dot-com bust. She defines success as a work-life balance and admires Donald Trump and Martha Stewart. Let’s hope Amy can stay out of legal troubles, unlike her idol Ms. Stewart.
Bowie Hogg, 25, Dallas, TX. Bowie worked as an account executive for FedEx and is now starting a new career as a motivational speaker. He admires his parents, who are teachers, and would like to be George Jetson, living in the future and married to hottie Jane.
Kwame Jackson, 29, New York, NY. Kwame has an MBA from Harvard and has worked with several dot-com startups. Most recently, he has worked on Wall Street as an investment manager. He admires his mother and BET founder and CEO Robert L. Johnson. The cartoon character he most relates to is Wolverine of the X-Men. Since I am a huge comic book fan, Kwame is now my favorite candidate on the show. Go, Kwame!
Tammy Lee, 36, Seattle, WA. Tammy has worked as an actress, in public relations, and as a stockbroker. She admires Jerry Seinfeld and Michael Bloomberg. The cartoon character she most relates to is Daffy Duck, saying "He is one crazy duck."
Troy McClain, 32, Boise, ID. Troy does not have a college degree and believes that street smarts are more important than education. He has worked most recently as a mortgage lender. He admires his grandfather and Donald Trump.
Bill Rancic, 32, Chicago, IL. Bill owns a successful online cigar company. He admires his father’s personal and professional success. He calls himself "a trained killer—in business."
Sam Solovey, 27, Chevy Chase, MD. Sam is co-founder of an internet media company and currently oversees sales and development. He admires Howard Stern for being successful after so many people told him he would fail and for his loyalty to his staff. Sam admires Wile E. Coyote, so I’m sure we can expect to see a conflict between him and Roadrunner fan Katrina.
Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, 29, Washington, DC. Omarosa went from growing up in the projects to working in the White House for the Clinton-Gore administration. Professionally, she works as a political consultant, but she has also worked as an image consultant for pageants, successfully training a Miss USA, Miss Taiwan, and a Miss Guyana. She admires her mother and legendary African-American businesswoman Madame C.J. Walker. Her cartoon character of choice is Optimus Prime from Transformers.
Ereka Vetrini, 27, New York, NY. Ereka has worked all over the world for Estee Lauder and Clinique. She considers success to be a mix between professional successes like a corner office and house in the Hamptons and personal successes like a happy family. Her cartoon character of choice is Princess Fiona from Shrek because "she is a take-charge kind of woman who can kick some serious butt!" As that is the second-coolest answer behind Wolverine, I have also taken a shine to Ereka.
Nick Warnock, 27, Los Angeles, CA. As a college student, Nick started his own Italian Ice company. He currently works in sales for Xerox. He defines success as being at the point where he can take care of people who are important to him. He can most relate to Papa Smurf, for being a natural leader. He thinks Papa Smurf was also "obviously a hit with the ladies." Since there was only one female Smurf, Smurfette, Nick is obviously not up on his Smurfology. Will it count against him?
The Apprentice features sixteen people who are smart, ambitious, and brave enough to face the world’s most stressful job interview—on national television. With such a competitive group of people, I suspect sparks will fly. I’ll be here to recap each episode, from the initial meetings to the final deal.
Betsy can be reached with any comments at email@example.com.
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