"For the third season of The Apprentice, [Apprentice co-creator and executive producer] Mark Burnett and I have decided to take the series into a new realm," stated Donald Trump in the cast announcement. "We wanted to see what would happen if we pitted college grads against high school grads. The result makes for fascinating television. Who will you root for?"
While NBC took the unusual step of revealing only the first names of the third season's Apprentice contestants (although surnames will no doubt become public knowledge as local media reports emerge), it did reveal the names of the two team "corporations." The "street smarts" team will call itself "Networth," with the "book smarts" team opting to go with "Magna."
In another departure from The Apprentice's first two editions, the cast does not appear to contain a single Ivy-league graduate (not even among its nine "book smarts" contestants) and also features four contestants who would have qualified as the oldest members of the first two edition's casts (a group topped by The Apprentice's first 40-something contestant -- a 41-year-old single mother.)
"You'll also discover that we chose candidates who are more relatable--- along the lines of Sam, Troy and Amy," said Trump, perhaps alluding to the lack of Ivy league graduates such as 30-year-old corporate lawyer Jennifer Massey, The Apprentice 2'sunpopular runner-up.
The nine members of Networth's "street smarts" high school diploma-only team are:
• Tara Dowdell, a 28-year-old senior government manager from New York, New York. Tara, is the Senior Manager of Government and Community Relations for the Port Commerce Department of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. In this capacity she is responsible for managing the public relations for a multi-billion dollar port development project. Additionally, Tara was the first African American and the youngest person ever to serve as Director of Appointments in the Office of the New Jersey Governor. As Director of Appointments, she managed the process of gubernatorial appointments to over 500 boards and commissions. Tara grew up in Hillside and North Brunswick, N.J. as an only child.
• Audrey Evans, a 22-year-old real estate agent from Salt Lake City, Utah. Audrey grew up in West Valley, Utah with her brother and sister. Audrey never had the chance to continue her education after High School but has become a very successful Real Estate agent, one of the youngest agents ever to be certified in Utah. She is currently working on her broker's license while launching a non-profit organization for high school students to help them pursue their dream career.
• John Gafford, a 32-year-old technology firm owner from Tampa, Florida. John grew up in Lake City, Fla. but has lived in some of the biggest cities in the country including Detroit, Atlanta and St. Louis. John currently owns two successful businesses in Florida--- an insurance agency, "United Insurance Solutions of Florida, Inc." and "Pattern Recognition Inc.," an Information Technology consulting firm. Before moving back to Florida, John owned and operated several restaurants across the country including a popular nightclub in Atlanta.
• Tana Gertz, a 37-year-old sales executive from Des Moines, Iowa. Tana is a wife, mother of two, and succesful entrepreneur. She is the owner of several start-up companies including an internet commerce business. Her business savvy was first noted at the age of nine when she sold telephone accessories door-to-door and depleted her inventory in record time. Tana's highly competitive spirit has led her to be one of the top sales women in the Mary Kay Organization. Tana's strong work ethic has served her well in all aspects of life and she is a firm believer that you create your own destiny.
• Kristen Kirchner, a 31-year-old real estate financier from Los Angeles, California. Kristen is the top producer for one of the most prestigious real estate brokerage firms in Los Angeles. She is currently studying for her broker's license and has opened escrow on her third investment property. Originally from Fairfax, Va., Kristen's first love was competing as a hunter jumper in national equestrian competitions. Helping her parents with their real estate businesses at age 11 inspired Kristen to realize that anything is possible if you work hard and believe in yourself.
• Brian McDowell, a 29-year-old real estate broker from Wildwood, New Jersey. Brian hails from Philadelphia and is a born salesman. He turned down a full paid scholarship to college and with only a high school diploma started his own business. A self-made millionaire from selling glow-in-the-dark necklaces, he now holds the federal trademark for GLOWLITES. Brian is best described as an entrepreneur and is currently running five businesses, most notably a real estate office serving New Jersey and Pennsylvania. His most recent venture is the creation of Realadex, Inc., a company that manufactures cutting edge software for real estate professionals. In Brian's spare time he enjoys performing magic.
• Angie Harper, a 41-year-old gym franchise owner from Lake Balboa, California. Angie is a single mother who grew up in Miami. She opened the first Curves for Women health club in Los Angeles and currently owns two of them. Her most impressive business achievement thus far has been turning a $40,000 investment into $1.5 million market value within three years. Angie is also a professional cabaret singer and songwriter. She has made many national appearances and currently is publishing her own book of original songs.
• Chris, a 22-year-old real estate investor from Las Vegas, Nevada. Chris was born in Richfield, Utah and raised primarily in Las Vegas. After graduating from Silverado High School, Chris immediately concentrated on expanding his father's real estate business. After grossing just $25,000 in his first year on the job (at age 18), Chris now commands a portfolio of properties valued over $1 million. He credits his parents for inspiring him to succeed and sees himself as a young Donald Trump.
• Craig Williams, a 37-year-old shoeshine business owner from Conley, Georgia. Craig, 37, has been married eleven years and is very proud of his four daughters. He was born in Gulfport, Miss., but raised in San Francisco. He is currently an EMT and firefighter working 24-hours a day, every 3 days. During his time off, Craig became a standing partner in the "Pinnacle Entertainment Group," a music conglomerate. Craig also created and developed a modest shoeshine franchise entitled, "Peaceful Feet Shoe Shine Inc."
The nine members of Magna's "book smarts" college educated team are:
• Erin Elmore, a 26-year-old attorney from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Erin an accomplished corporate attorney, has represented some of the largest businesses in the world. She received her J.D. from Villanova University School of Law, where she participated in the prestigious Women Against Abuse Volunteer Attorney Program. Erin attended the University of Miami and distinguished herself by earning a dual degree in Broadcasting and Political Science. During her tenure at the University of Miami, Erin wrote for the Miami Hurricane newspaper and won the Most Outstanding Student Award in 2000. Currently, Erin is developing the first "All Women for Women" law firm focusing on issues including: domestic violence, child support, sexual harassment, pre-nuptial agreements and divorce. A native of Pittsburgh, Erin currently resides in Center City Philadelphia.
• Todd, a 34-year-old sales manager from Carlsbad, California. Todd, married with children, was born and raised in Brandon, Fla. with his younger brother. He holds a BA in Business from the University of Miami and is currently working as a sales manager. He became the #1 insurance sales agent at his company in just six months. Todd began his career working for "No Fear" athletic apparel where he was the youngest sales manager in company history. He also is a successful restaurant entrepreneur.
• Verna, a 31-year-old business manager from Seattle, Washington. Verna is married with children. She attended Jackson State University where she excelled in academics and athletics. She began her career in sales, demonstrating exceptional potential by delivering some of the highest figures in the company. Pursuing her passion of Marketing Communications, she began working in the Information Technology field speaking to a variety of groups about the value of technology, and has presented on stage to live audiences of over 15,000 people. Verna is responsible for managing team members in the development of executive communications, website creation, event management, and presentation delivery. Vena earned her MBA in Business Communications, and is now responsible for product management and simultaneously driving large-scale, multi-million dollar projects within the corporation.
• Danny Kastner, a 39-year-old marketing technology firm owner from Boston, Massachusetts. Danny grew up in Cleveland where he left high school early to accept an academic scholarship to Cleveland State University. After earning his BA, Danny's creativity began to drive his academic and professional direction. He completed graduate coursework in music composition at Boston University, where he later joined the faculty, and studied at MIT's famed Media Lab. Danny's vision for combining art with commerce led him to develop several successful media and technology ventures. He is the founder, CEO and chief visionary for POPstick, a leader in innovating new media technologies. When Danny is out of the boardroom, he can be found writing and performing rock operas and symphonies. His musical talents have earned him four national composition awards.
• Stephanie, 29-year-old supply chain consultant from San Diego, California. Stephanie grew up in Tempe, Ariz. with a close-knit family. She attended Arizona State University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree with an emphasis in Supply Chain Management (ASU's prestigious Business Program). She is currently part of IBM's Corporate Supply Chain Organization, where she is identified as one of the top talented Global Supply Chain Consultants. Her business savvy, loyalty, integrity and strong negotiating skills have led her to successful inventory management programs; phenomenal client satisfaction and outstanding results in multi-million dollar contract negotiations. Her expertise is in Information Technology Outsourcing and Human Resource Outsourcing.
• Bren Olswanger, a 32-year-old prosecutor from Memphis, Tennessee. Bren is married with children. He was born and raised in Memphis, Tenn., and attended The University of Memphis where he received his BA. He then obtained his J.D. from the University of Memphis' Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law. Leaving a lucrative career as a real estate closing attorney, Bren now serves as an Assistant District Attorney General. Far from the fame and fortune of Fifth Avenue, Bren works in the world of drugs and thugs.
• Michael Tarshi, a 25-year-old real estate developer from Boston, Massachusetts. Michael currently lives in Boston. He completed his secondary education at The Pingree School in South Hamilton, Mass., and earned his Bachelors Degree in Communications from Boston College in 2001. At the age of 23 Michael launched Venture Development and Properties LLC, a real estate development and investment firm with residential and commercial projects throughout New England. Michael plans to build his company into a national infrastructure as well as pursue an MBA.
• Alex Thomason, a 29-year-old prosecutor from Seattle, Washington. Alex was born and raised on an apple farm in Brewster, Wash. After leaving a career as a nationally ranked skier, Alex studied archaeology at Jerusalem University and completed degrees in Theology and Latin at Seattle Pacific University, where he won an award for his weekly editorial column in the college paper. In 2000, Alex moved to D.C. and lobbied for the apple industry and successfully oversaw the entire bidding and shipping logistics for the USDA's first-ever purchase fresh apples for inclusion in humanitarian food aid programs. Alex just received his J.D. degree from Seattle University School of Law, where he was the graduation speaker and President of the Federalist Society.
• Kendra Todd, 26-year-old real estate broker from Boynton Beach, Florida. Kendra is an ambitious and highly successful real estate entrepreneur. She obtained her undergraduate degree in linguistics from the University of Florida, and upon graduation became the founding Editor-in-Chief of an award-winning lifestyle magazine in South Florida. Kendra went on to obtain her real estate license, and incorporated her media expertise into the development of My House Real Estate, Inc. an innovative real estate marketing company specializing in condo conversions and land acquisitions. My House Real Estate, Inc.'s marketing strategies are virtually unparalleled, and have generated involvement in some of Florida's most sought after real estate. Kendra is currently one of the highest producing real estate agents in the marketplace. Additionally, she is "Special Agent 53" on My House, Florida's #1 real estate investment talk radio show on Clear Channel radio.
The Apprentice is produced by Mark Burnett Productions in association with Trump Productions LLC. Mark Burnett, Donald Trump and Jay Bienstock are its executive producers. Conrad Riggs and Kevin Harris are co-executive producers.