Stefani Schaeffer "shocked" to win 'The Apprentice: Los Angeles'
By Christopher Rocchio, 04/24/2007
Stefanie Schaeffer was known for her behind-the-scenes leadership during The Apprentice: Los Angeles, a quality that she said was more or less thrust upon her due to some of the personalities she was competing against and working with.
"When you're in a [team] group like Arrow [Corporation], you have some boisterous characters -- like [Frank Lombardi], who's from the Bronx; and [Nicole D'Ambrosio], from Chicago; and [James Sun], from Seattle -- so they're all very loud. So I knew I wasn't going to win with bravado," Schaeffer said on Tuesday morning's broadcast of Live with Regis and Kelly, with co-host Kelly Ripa and guest co-host Bryant Gumbel. "I think that the editors do a really good job of showing you for really who you are. I think that we were all portrayed to be exactly how we are, except that they can edit you out, so you're not shown as much. So people probably thought that I'm far more quiet than I really am."
The 32-year-old Los Angeles attorney beat out seventeen other candidates to win The Apprentice'sjust concluded sixth season. Despite never serving as project manager of her Arrow team, she was still able to make it all the way to The Apprentice'slive finale at the Hollywood Bowl, where she defeated Lombardi, D'Ambrosio and Sun -- three other former Arrow members who all served as project manager at one time or another (Sun was even a project manager three times) -- to be crowned Donald Trump's sixth The Apprentice winner.
"I was very relaxed because going into the finale, I really thought James had it," she explained. "I thought that Mr. Trump was very fond of James, and I thought Mr. Trump would be saying, 'James you're hired.' And so I wasn't nervous at all because I figured well I'm going to go out and just argue for the fun of it and have a good time and congratulate James, who I respect and care about very much."
Instead, it was Schaeffer who The Donald decided to hire.
"I was shocked," she said upon her new boss' decision.
When Schaeffer first walked onto Live's stage, Ripa immediately marveled at the engagement ring on her finger. While there's no date set for the wedding because of her new job, Schaeffer said it was actually her fiance who encouraged her to audition for The Apprentice, so he can't hold a grudge that Trump is now the other man in her life.
"[My fiance] said, 'You know, I'm watching these people on The Apprentice, and I think you can do this and you just have to... here's the application.' And he hands me this stack of paperwork that looks like I'm applying to the CIA," said Schaeffer. "And I said, 'Okay honey. I think you're nuts, but I'm going to give it a shot.' I did it on a lark to start with."
Upon arriving at one of The Apprentice's sixth season casting calls, Schaeffer said she was met by "5,000 people" who were also applying.
"I said, 'Okay, I'm going to work on my case and stand here in line and we'll see if I stand out,'" she said. "There was actually a gentleman in line in front of me, and he said, 'I have an extra cup of Starbucks.' And with coffee it's like candy to a baby. No problem. You have a cup of coffee, I'm going to sit in your chair and I'm going to work on my case here and why not? My law firm's paying me to be here. [The producers] called me back and one thing led to another."
Prior to selecting her as his The Apprentice: Los Angeles' winner on Sunday night's finale, Trump gave Schaeffer and the season's three other finalists the chance to tell him which The Trump Organization position they'd prefer -- overseeing the construction of Trump at Cap Cana, a luxurious resort complex in the Dominican Republic that includes a beach club, condominium hotel, private villas, a golf course and 68 private estates; or overseeing the construction of Trump Towers Atlanta, a 47-story luxury condominium complex that will redefine the city's skyline once completed.
On Tuesday, Schaeffer told Gumbel and Ripa that her decision to pick the Cap Cana project had been an easy decision. "Did you see the pictures of Atlanta and of the Caribbean? Did you see the color of the ocean?" Schaeffer told Gumbel when he asked why she chose the job she did. "It is about the work, but there's a golf course!"
While her most recent legal work has involved defending California employers against worker's compensation claims, Schaeffer says that given she previously handled construction defect litigation for Southern California developers, she's not concerned about making a transition into Trump's real estate development organization.
"I'm looking at this as a segue into the construction industry," said Schaeffer. "I think that bringing my legal background into it... the fact of the matter is, I am a lawyer. I defended developers in construction defect litigation, so I think that I'm not really leaving law. I'm just bringing law into construction and refocusing on construction."
Since being employed by Trump, Schaeffer is also starting to sound a lot like The Donald as she looks to find her own staff to work under her at Cap Cana.
"I would hire James, like I told Mr. Trump. If he gives me a budget and says you can hire someone, I will call James," she said.