After letting Martha Stewart grab the media spotlight for her own upcoming The Apprentice spinoff series for the last week, NBC and Donald Trump today released the identities of the eighteen contestants who will be competing on the fourth edition of Trump's original The Apprentice series that will debut on Thursday, September 22 at 9PM ET/PT.

As has become his custom, the hubris-filled real estate mogul is touting the latest installment of his reality series as the best one yet. "The Apprentice has been a great success by any standard," Trump told The New York Times. "And The Apprentice 4 is the best by far, the best show we've done."

More interestingly, Trump and Apprentice producer Mark Burnett have finally gone on the record and confirmed what had been widely rumored since early this year -- that Trump was unhappy with the quality of the contestants featured on last spring's The Apprentice 3 edition.

"The entire series I was angry," Trump (who, along with Burnett, co-owns and co-produces the series) admitted in an interview with The Times. According to Trump, his anger stemmed from his opinion that Burnett and the show's casting directors had ignored his suggestions and instead, based on the fact that Burnett had decided to feature a competition between high school and college graduates, assembled a cast that, when he arrived to begin shooting the series, didn't past muster with the real estate tycoon.

An unusually humble Burnett took Trump's public slam in stride, telling the paper that "the casting problem on [The Apprentice] 3 was completely my fault." "Having book smarts versus street smarts seemed like a great idea but it changed the tenor of the show," the producer conceded. "It affected the reaction among the show's usually wealthy and well-educated audience," he added. "I don't think people wanted to see potty-mouthed competitors."

Although he only personally attended a couple of The Apprentice 3's numerous nationwide open casting calls, Trump told The Times that after the cast was selected, he was surprised to discover that none of the promising applicants that he had pointed out during the initial casting calls had ended up in the final cast.

Trump even made a point of telling the paper how politely he had made his suggestions. "I was very nice. I said, 'You see that guy in dreadlocks? I would like him in the show if possible.' There was a girl I wanted. I said, 'I'd like to see if you could have her in the show.' It wasn't typical Trump."

Once he discovered that none of his cast choices had been selected, Trump says he "went through the roof." "Then I became the real Trump - because I didn't like the cast."

According to Trump, he's apparently unaccustomed to working with folks who might actually reject some of his suggestions. "I recommended these people. If I recommend in my company, it's over," Trump told the paper. "I don't have to be a dictator. I say this is a good idea and people do it, if they're intelligent."

In order to make sure last season's situation didn't happen again, Burnett and Trump came up with a rather obvious solution to the problem -- get The Donald involved in the finalist interview process. In an apparent first for the series, Trump participated in this spring's Los Angeles interviews with the show's 200 Apprentice 4 finalists. The Donald enjoyed the experience. "It was a great interview process. They were fighting like cats and dogs."

As a result of his participation in the interview process, Trump says that he handpicked seventeen of The Apprentice 4's eighteen contestants (surprisingly, The Times reporter appears to have not bothered to ask the obvious follow-up question -- which single candidate isn't Trump-recommended?) "If I'm looking for somebody out of eighteen people to work for me, how come somebody else is picking the eighteen people?" Trump asked rhetorically. "Doesn't make sense."

"I'm thrilled with the results," gushed Trump. "This is the best reality show cast I've ever encountered. They have it all: beauty, brains, and big bucks."

Ranging in age between 22-41, the candidates boast degrees from Oxford, Wharton, MIT, and Georgetown and include an NFL player-turned ad sales executive, an inventor, a salon and spa chain owner, a financial journalist and a risk manager. Additionally, several of the candidates are already millionaires.
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Unlike Stewart's candidate pool (nearly half of which are in their early 30's and only four of which are in their 20's) Trump's latest Apprentice continues to skew quite young. Eleven of Trump's Apprentice 4 contestants are in their 20's and only three contestants are older than age 31.

The newly remarried Trump admits to being smitten by one of the candidates -- Jennifer Murphy, a 26-year-old former Miss Oregon USA who is a consultant and speaker with a national advertising firm. "[She is] one of the most beautiful women I've ever seen," he told The Times.

So beautiful that some of the show's producers told him not to select her as a finalist. "They said she was too beautiful. I said, 'Excuse me, there is no such thing as too beautiful.' They said, 'Donald she's so beautiful, she's not credible.' I said, 'No. 1, she happens to be smart. No. 2, she's very beautiful - congratulations, she's going on the show,'" Trump told the paper. "There wasn't going to be another Apprentice 3 thing where I end up with a cast where I have to pick people to work for me and I don't believe in them."

And in a comment that is bound to renew criticism that he tends to favor attractive female contestants, Trump also acknowledged that Jennifer's physical appearance might give her an advantage in the boardroom. "I try to be objective," he admitted to the paper. "But beauty is an unfair advantage for certain people. When they came up with the wonderful statement, all men are created equal, never has there been a more false statement. It sounds brilliant; it reads beautifully. But some people are geniuses. Some are beautiful."

Murphy isn't the only former beauty queen in the cast -- Marshawn Evans, a 26-year-old recent law school graduate, is also a former Miss District of Columbia who finished third runner-up at the 2002 Miss America competition.

The Apprentice 4 will also feature the show's first openly gay contestant, Clay Lee, a 28-year-old real estate agent from College Station, TX.

The fourth Apprentice edition will also include appearances by two high-profile celebrity businessman looking to pitch their product placements: Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and Hollywood titan George Lucas. Lucas will appear in a task in which the show's teams will devise ideas for Star Wars' fall DVD release while Gates will appear as part of a task involving a new Microsoft product.

The eighteen contestants competing on The Apprentice 4 are:

Josh Shaw, a 30-year-old beauty company owner from New York, NY.

Josh a successful entrepreneur and self-made multi-millionaire by the age of 24, has become a driving force in the cosmetics and beauty industry. Josh is co-Founder and Chief Operating Officer of GoSMILE, Inc. ( In less than three years, he and his partners in the company have effectively established GoSMILE as the innovative pioneer and leader of the newest category in prestige retail, called Smile Beauty. Prior to this venture, he had successfully helped build and run a multi-media marketing services company, Student Advantage Inc., valued at over a billion dollars at its peak in the stock market. Over a nine-year period, Josh built and managed various aspects of the company, driving the growth of the company from 12 people, generating $400,000 in annual revenue, to nearly 500 people generating over $85 million in revenue. He received his B.S. in marketing and finance from the University of Albany. He married his high school sweetheart four years ago, and they are expecting their first child this January.

Rebecca Jarvis, a 23-year-old financial journalist from Chicago, IL.

Rebecca was named "One of 20 Teens Who Will Change the World" by Teen People magazine in February 2000 and was awarded a Point of Light by President Clinton. She graduated with honors from the University of Chicago, earning degrees in economics and pre-law. As a Chicago-based investment banker, she structured mergers and acquisitions, as well as equity and debt transactions. Prior to that, she traded short-term interest rate options on Citigroup's foreign exchange desk in London. Outside of business, Rebecca founded a non-profit organization, raising over $750,000 to support disenfranchised children. In conjunction with this effort, she lobbied state and federal government officials, speaking at a wide range of national conferences and sharing the stage with Al Gore and Colin Powell, among others. She also reported on-air, wrote and helped produce hard news, features, and entertainment segments for a weekly show on an NBC affiliate in her hometown of Minneapolis. She is currently a financial journalist in Chicago.

Brian Mandelbaum, 23-year-old print company executive from New York, NY.

Brian, originally from Old Beth Page, NY, is Director of Business Development for The True Type Printing Company, a New York City-based commercial printing company. During his tenure, Brian effectively launched new initiatives within the print and graphic arts vertical market. He helped orchestrate a comprehensive overhaul of this 70-year-old company into a 30,000 square foot modern state-of-the-art commercial printing facility – increasing its overall capability and profitability. Prior to this position, Brian has been a consultant with many of the industry leaders in technology including America Online, Inc. and Razorfish, Inc. developing successful software application systems for their clients. From 1997-1999, Brian helped cultivate an Internet startup company on Long Island called The Fountainhead Management, which was sold to the publicly traded e-commerce company, Intershop Communications in March of 1999. Additionally, at the age of 18, Brian was the youngest citizen panelist on HBO's Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher television show.

Toral Metha, a 29-year-old investment banker from Philadelphia, PA.

Toral, currently a Vice President in the Capital Markets group of a major investment bank in New York City, is among the handful of officer level women in her group responsible for originating, structuring, negotiating and closing multi-million dollar business deals. Fluent in French, Hindi and English, Toral has traveled to more than 15 foreign countries over the course of her career, working with top business leaders in both the public and private sectors. A graduate of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Toral has worked for some of the country's leading financial institutions including Goldman Sachs and American Express. In addition, Toral is a skilled day trader and self-made multi-millionaire. Her recent investments include luxury real estate and upscale restaurant projects in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Toral now resides in New York City, and likes to spend her free time at her homes in Miami Beach and London.

Chris Valletta, a 27-year-old marketing executive from Dallas, TX.

Chris is a former NFL player for the New Orleans Saints, Tennessee Titans and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He earned a B.S. in speech communications and rhetoric with a minor in political science from Texas A&M University, where he was an All-Conference Offensive Lineman and a four-year letterman. He currently works in advertising sales as an executive at KRLD News Radio 1080-AM in Dallas, Texas, where he was recently named "salesperson of the year," for generating over $1,500,000 in new revenue and breaking the company's 79-year record for first year sales. During this time, he started a company called Big Tree Investments LLC., a transactional real estate company that uses land trusts to acquire and wholesale properties. In 2004, Chris and his wife Lacie founded C&L, Inc., which operates their 100-acre tree farm in East Texas, where they raise and harvest pine trees for long-term investment growth. He and his wife enjoy traveling and spending time on their ranch.

Kristi Caudell, a 24-year-old sales executive from Gainesville, GA.

Kristi, top sales executive for Gold Creek Golf Club, a high profile 27-hole golf course in Dawsonville, Ga., exceeded her yearly quota of $600,000 in her first four months on the job. Kristi went on to reach a total of $1.3 million in sales while becoming a Vice President and leading her sales team. She received a full scholarship to play soccer at Truett McConnel College and Brenau University. She was an All-American Nominee and was nationally ranked. Kristi was able to accomplish all of this after having a premature child at the age of 16. With her daughter now in second grade she has found the man of her dreams who she is to marry this fall. They will continue to live in Gainesville, Ga.

Clay Lee, a 28-year-old realtor from College Station, TX.

Clay, originally from the small town of Stephenville, Texas, has been involved with real estate his entire life, both through his parent's custom home business and the very detailed homes he built using the thousand's of Lego's® he still owns. Clay attended Texas A&M University for three years where, during his freshman year, he realized his passion was real estate and began working as a REALTOR®'s assistant. A year later he moved his real estate license to Century 21 Beal, Inc. where he has worked for almost nine years. His unique attention to detail and creative abilities have driven him to be one of the top real estate agents in the Bryan/College Station area. Clay's specialty is new construction where he loves to help buyers and builders design and create unique properties to fit their lifestyles or market demands.

Felisha Mason, a 29-year-old real estate developer from Kansas City, MO.

Felisha earned a B.S. in Aviation Human Factors and Systems from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University, and then traveled to Atlanta where she was contracted to do research for the Federal Aviation Administration. In 2001, she took the opportunity to assist an Illinois-based real estate company in its growth. She quickly learned management and development, and started her own development companies: 4010 Washington, Mason Management and Mason Hotels. She currently owns real estate throughout the U.S., and recently purchased a 100-room hotel development in Lafayette, La. Originally from Middleton, Idaho, Felisha's motivations for success are her twin brother, two other siblings, and deceased parents. Her passions are flying (she is a pilot) and racing sailboats.

Randal Pinkett, a 34-year-old consulting firm owner from Somerset, NJ.

Randal is the founder, president and CEO of his fifth venture "BCT Partners," a multi-million dollar management, technology and policy consulting firm based in Newark, N.J., that works with corporations, government agencies, philanthropic and nonprofit organizations. Born in Philadelphia and raised in Hightstown, N.J., he holds five academic degrees in engineering, business and technology including a B.S. from Rutgers University, an M.S. from the University of Oxford in England as a Rhodes Scholar, and an M.S., M.B.A. and Ph.D. from MIT. A former college championship track and field athlete, he has received numerous awards for his accomplishments as an entrepreneur and technologist including the National Society of Black Engineers "National Member of the Year." A Leadership New Jersey Fellow and Next Generation Leadership Fellow, Randal has been featured by Black Enterprise magazine and Ebony magazine in their "30 Leaders of the Future" issue. He is a proud member of First Baptist Church in Somerset, N.J., where he resides and is happily married to his wife Zahara.

Jennifer Murphy, a 26-year-old ad sales manager from Los Angeles, CA.

Jennifer, a former Miss Oregon USA, is a consultant and speaker with a national advertising firm. One of twelve children, she was home-schooled and, inspired by her father's entrepreneurial spirit, she dove into business at age 17. By the age of 21 she started investing in and developing real estate ventures. At age 23, Jennifer secured a management position with an advertising firm, and developed new businesses throughout the state of Oregon. She recently moved from Southern Oregon to Los Angeles where she continues to oversee her real estate development business.

James Dillon, a 27-year-old sales executive from Alexandria, VA

James is in the top three percent of sales for Cingular Wireless and is a Cingular Summit award winner. He recently started a real estate investment firm, J.S. DILLON, with his wife Shawna and they currently own properties in Alexandria, Va., Washington D.C., and Chicago. James graduated cum laude from Frostburg State University with a B.S. in business administration and was also Vice President of Sigma Beta Delta and a four-year baseball letterman/captain. Upon graduation, he earned his second diploma in broadcasting and interned at "The John Thompson Show" and "The Sports Reporters" on SportsTalk980. He was dubbed "Gentleman Jim" while interning on Z104's, "The Bush League Morning Show." This experience led him to a position as a roaming reporter, production assistant, and weekend sportscaster at WHSV TV3 in Harrisonburg, Va.

Alla Wartenberg, a 31-year-old salon & spa chain owner from Las Vegas, NV.

Alla, a self-made multi-millionaire, owns a chain of upscale Dolphin Court Salons & Day Spas in Las Vegas. She also builds million dollar custom mansions for resale and invests avidly in commercial and residential land. Born and raised in Kishinev, Moldavia, formerly of Russia, Alla moved to the U.S.A. with her parents in 1988 to fulfill the "American Dream." At age 19, she purchased her first building, and at age 23 she was one of the youngest pioneers of the spa boom. Recently, she negotiated one of her most lucrative business deals by selling the spa and the salon she owned at a star studded Hotel and Casino in Henderson, Nev. Encouraged by her celebrity clientele, Alla has been developing her own European-derived skin care and hair care lines. She successfully balances a happy marriage, motherhood to her four children, and a thriving career in the entertainment capital of the world, Las Vegas.

Jennifer Wallen, a 31-year-old realty company owner from Anthem, AZ.

Jennifer received a B.A. in public relations and political science from Murray State University while playing on the university's women's golf team. Originally from Tennessee, Jennifer was a former president of her local Future Farmers of America Association. She enjoys riding horses, camping and even earned her first dollar showing sheep. Jennifer moved to Arizona in 2000 and opened her own real estate company called "Hot Realty." She is the designated broker overseeing 70 plus agents and employees. In its first year of business her company grossed over $1.3 million dollars and is on target to more than double that in 2005. In addition, she recently opened her second business "Off the Hook Sushi & Martini Bar." Proving itself to be a hip and trendy local spot to dine on delicious cuisine, she and her partners plan to open two more restaurants in the next year. Jennifer is also the proud "Mommy" of two children.

Markus Garrison, a 41-year-old inventor from Sarasota, FL.

Markus grew up splitting his time between Chicago and Sarasota, Fla. and has lived in many other cities including Los Angeles, Atlanta and New York. While attending Santa Monica College for pre-law, Markus chose to breakaway in favor of pursuing the life of an entrepreneur. He had involvement in the ultra high-end furniture industry for ten years, focusing on distribution and furniture design with clients including Disney, Universal and select residential properties. Markus invented, developed and marketed The FootMateTM System and currently is reintroducing the system with key industry partners and has many other products in the works. In addition, he continues to manage and invest in numerous waterfront real estate properties. Markus has an intense passion for life and adventure; ranking high on the list are skiing, auto racing, flying and pursing a passion for fine wine – frequently traveling to Bordeaux, Champagne and Paris.

Melissa, a 30-year-old real estate investor from Tampa, FL.

Melissa was a star softball and soccer athlete for much of her youth. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Denver, with a dual B.S. degree in Accounting and International Finance, and two Master Degrees in Accounting and Computer Information Systems. Melissa's Fortune 500 professional foundation includes accounting and tax consulting at KPMG, followed by becoming Vice President of Investments at Wachovia Securities. She built a portfolio of investments valued more than $48 million in her first year as a stockbroker. True to her entrepreneurial spirit, Melissa founded Mosaic Co., offering title and inspection services, mortgage lending, and lease-option housing, after many years of buying, selling, and rehabbing properties. She recently acquired several apartment buildings in Fla. and is currently expanding into the hospitality and senior housing industries.

Mark Lamkin, a 35-year-old wealth manager from Louisville, KY.

Mark graduated from the University of Louisville with a B.A. in finance and completed his M.B.A. from Bellarmine University. He founded and sold more than eight successful businesses over the past ten years while working for PNC Brokerage. During his time at PNC, he was also the firm's top producer for nine consecutive years in the Kentucky and Indiana region. After leaving the firm, he launched Lamkin Wealth Management, which has vaulted to the top two percent of LPL firms nationwide in just three-and-a-half years. Mark's goal is to manage $100 million dollars in five years. He and his wife Jennifer have two children.

Marshawn Evans, a 26-year-old recent law school graduate from Atlanta, GA.

Marshawn is CEO of Communications Counts!, a national professional development and public speaking consulting agency where she travels the country working with politicians, athletes, entertainers, and media personalities. As Miss District of Columbia, she finished 3rd runner-up at the Miss America competition. A national spokesperson on youth crime prevention and leadership development, and she has worked with the U.S. Justice Department as a co-founder of the National Youth Network. She graduated magna cum laude from Texas Christian University with honors, and was named a Harry S. Truman Scholar, an ambassador to the International Summit of Achievement in Ireland, and one of Glamour magazine's "Top Ten College Women." She received her J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center, where she served as a criminal defense attorney in the Juvenile Justice Clinic and as a litigator on Georgetown's International Commercial Arbitration Team competing in Vienna, Austria. Born and raised in Dallas, Texas, she relocated from Washington, D.C. to Georgia where she will begin her career as a litigator with a top Atlanta law firm.

Adam Israelov, a 22-year-old risk manager from Atlanta, GA.

Adam graduated at the age of 20 in the top of his class from Georgia State University with a B.B.A. majoring in risk management and insurance. He began his career at the early age of 19 at Marsh & McLennan Companies, a fortune 200 Company, in their investment banking division. By age 20, Adam was managing a book of business, at Marsh USA Inc., exceeding three million for blue chip companies providing them with tailored risk management solutions. He recently moved to New York City where he is currently working for one of the Big 4 Accounting/Advisory Firms where he advises the head of fortune 500 Companies on risk management strategies. As a first generation American, Adam derives his inspiration and entrepreneurial spirit from his parents successful business that they started from nothing and grew to a multimillion-dollar enterprise. Additionally, growing up, Adam worked in the family tool and dye machine shop business and managed the family's multimillion-dollar real estate business located in the heart of metro Atlanta. Adam's summers were spent in Israel, his family's origin, which had a tremendous influence on his values.