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'Apprentice' loser Kwame Jackson debates job offer from 'Benefactor' star Mark Cuban


By Wade Paulsen, 04/17/2004 

It looks like Kwame Jackson, the runner-up on the final episode of NBC's The Apprentice for a "huge job" with egomaniac real-estate developer Donald Trump, won't have to learn anything about fast-food chicken after all.

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According to Extra!, Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the Dallas Mavericks NBA team, made a "huge job offer" to Kwame after Bill Rancic was hired by Trump instead of Kwame. Kwame told Extra! that Cuban had waited for hours at The Apprentice after-show cast party before finally cornering Kwame so that he could make the offer.

Kwame is still "deciding" whether to accept but notes that he is "just flattered that [Cuban] waited around for me." As he should be. In a Forbes online poll, Cuban was second choice as the billionaire that respondents would most like to work for, with 18% of the vote (first was Oprah Winfrey, with 32%), while Trump was second choice as the billionaire that respondents would least like to work for, with 22% (Leona Helmsley was first with 29%).

Conisdering that Cuban is in the process of starting his own reality TV show, The Benefactor for ABC, we wonder whether he really wants to pick Kwame's brain about The Apprentice creator/producer Mark Burnett's production techniques. If this is a real offer, however, Kwame would appear to have come out on top, even if Bill got the job with Trump.

Trump, a relentless self-promoter, never passes up an opportunity to boast about his own success -- how he "worked hard and used my brains," as he said in the introduction to The Apprentice. However, in truth, Trump was born into both real-estate development and great wealth as the son of Fred Trump, a star NYC builder and founder of The Trump Organization which The Donald still heads. No wonder Spy magazine always referred to Trump as the "short-fingered vulgarian."

By contrast, Cuban is an honest American success story. Born middle-class in Pittsburgh, Cuban went to Indiana University, where he honed his sales skills. After graduation, he started a computer consulting company -- although he knew nothing about computers. In Cuban's own words to ABC News, “The goal was to say yes to anything. I used to stay up all night. ‘You want this written in dbase? You want it in BASIC? Sure I can do it,.' [But] I’d have no clue.” However, by a combination of his own drive, a little blarney and some good employees, Cuban eventually built the company, MicroSolutions, Inc., into a powerhouse that he sold to CompuServe for millions in 1990, seven years after its founding.

In 1995, while living in Dallas, Cuban began to wonder if he could use the Internet as a way to hear Indiana University basketball games. He and a partner eventually started Broadcast.com to stream audio signals over the web. The company operated on a shoestring for years ... but it was ultimately sold to Yahoo! in 1999 for $5 billion dollars, allowing 300 employees to become millionaires and Cuban himself to realize $2 billion in Yahoo! stock. By hedging the stock, Cuban passed up the chance for future appreciation ... but when the Internet bubble burst, his astute decision enabled him to retain his fortune at a time when many if not most Internet millionaires went belly-up.

Prior to the job offer from Cuban, Fox News reported that Kwame had been offered the chance to return to his old firm, the NYC investment bank Goldman Sachs, at a substantial salary. However, Kwame turned the offer down and instead had planned to start a business with some friends of his focused on raising capital for black-run firms that focused on the upscale market.

We think the silly job offer that Kwame received from KFC (the former division of Pepsi that is now part of its fast-food spin-off Yum! Brands, along with Taco Bell and Pizza Hut) to become Chief Sales Officer for a week, in return for $25,000 and a year's supply of KFC food, now can safely be put into the thick pile of "publicity stunts."

(Photo credit NBC)












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