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Bill Rancic trumps Kwame Jackson to become The Donald's 'Apprentice'


By Wade Paulsen, 04/16/2004 

In the two-hour season finale of NBC's The Apprentice, New York City real-estate mogul Donald Trump selected Chicago native Bill Rancic, 32, founder of the web site Cigars Around the World, to be "The Apprentice."

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As his reward, Bill won a 2005 Chrysler Crossfire roadster and a $250,000/year job as the head of construction for The Trump Organization's new 90-story Trump International Hotel in Chicago. However, The Donald left no doubt that Bill would not be the person ultimately in charge of the Chicago project -- instead, The Donald would be.

Bill was picked over Kwame Jackson, 29, a Harvard MBA who had worked for Goldman Sachs prior to becoming one of "Trump's Chumps," as the show's 16 contestants were sometimes called. The determining factor in Trump's final decision seemed to be Kwame's failure to fire the lying, insubordinant and incompetent Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth during Kwame's final task: managing a Jessica Simpson concert at the Trump Taj Mahal last October.

During the course of the concert, Omarosa "lost" Jessica and her band after they changed their travel plans -- a possibility that Omarosa disregarded so that she wouldn't have to interrupt her fancy dinner with the rest of the team -- then lied to Kwame and the rest of the team about it. After that, a breakfast for Jessica and her posse was served late when neither Omarosa nor Troy McClain (whom Kwame asked to help after Omarosa's dishonesty was revealed) contacted the kitchen. Later, she took Jessica out of a pre-show reception just before Kwame brought Donald Trump to it, angering The Donald. Although the other aspects of the concert ended up fine, the accumulation of Omarosa's errors counted against Kwame.

The "live" ending of the finale revealed the reason for all of the obvious "voice-overs" used for Donald Trump's words in the boardroom: Trump is not a good extemporaneous speaker. In fact, Trump very obviously ended up reading just about every word he spoke off a teleprompter. After this performance, it will be difficult to ever again refer to The Apprentice as "unscripted" TV. May we suggest tape-delay for the finale of The Apprentice 2, which will air in fall 2004.

As part of the finale, all 16 candidates were brought back, including Ereka Vetrini, who was accused by Omarosa of using the "n-word" and various other racial slurs toward her. Although Omarosa's comments cannot be conclusively disproved, since every second of the contestants' lives was not taped during the show, Apprentice producer Mark Burnett has stated that none of the tapes, including tapes taken during the time when Omarosa originally claimed that such a slur was uttered, offers one iota of support to Omarosa's claims. At the end, Trump apologized to Ereka for the hurt that the show had caused her. He also told Omarosa that her lies were captured on tape and that she needed to watch her lying. From our vantage point, it appears that lying comes as naturally as breathing to Omarosa, so we doubt that Trump's admonishment will do much good.

Nevertheless, in the "teaser" for The Apprentice 2, the producers hinted that some of the original contestants may return -- and specifically showed a picture of Omarosa. We hope that Mark Burnett does not choose to add his name to the list of "enablers" for Omarosa's personality dysfunctions -- a list that already includes the Clinton-Gore White House and once-respected TV talk show host Oprah Winfrey.

But enough about Omarosa. For Bill, being able to stay in Chicago while working for Trump means that he will be able to continue his relationship with Jen Schefft, Andrew Firestone's chosen fiancee from The Bachelor 3, who also lives in Chicago since she and Andrew broke up. Bill chose to remain home over becoming head of a Trump golf-course/resort construction project in Los Angeles, apparently offered so that Trump could promote the project on national TV. We admit that Trump's claim that the golf course and resort would eclipse Carmel's Pebble Beach left us laughing out loud -- even though Pebble Beach actually is eclipsed by the ultra-private Cypress Point course that borders it. Trump can only hope that some day his course will be mentioned as an afterthought by people familiar with those two venues

For Kwame, we only hope that he never again has to lay eyes on She Who Must Not Be Named. Kwame also has the option of taking a one-week stint as Chief Sales Officer of KFC (the former "Kentucky Fried Chicken," which now seems to want to be known as "Kitchen Fresh Chicken"), for which Kwame would be paid $25,000 plus a one-year's supply of KFC products. KFC would like to use Kwame in the roll-out of its new Oven-Roasted Chicken product line. (We tend to think that his "sales job" would involve some on-camera time...)

(Photo credit NBC)


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