Saturday, May 07, 2005

All about Tana from The Apprentice TV Show

As Tana Goertz puts it, life seems at once simple and very, very hard."I'm trying to be the perfect mom, the perfect wife, and now this," she said."This" is the 37-year-old West Des Moines resident's run at being the first female winner of NBC's ultimate corporate contest, "The Apprentice." Tana, who's never wanted to work for anyone but herself, now wants a job with Donald Trump.The final goal is the easiest to analyze.The current season began with 18 contestants, divided into a "Street Smarts" team and a "Book Smarts" team. Tana, who never finished her final semester of college, was placed with the "Street Smarts" group.
She must make it through one more of the show's challenges to be the big winner. Thursday, Tana and Kara will go head-to-head on two projects: competing in a PlayStation video game tournament and working on New York City's bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics.The finale episode is May 19, when Trump hires one of the two contestants.This is how a mother of two with a career and busy life finds herself on an unscripted TV show full of boardrooms and back stabbing and - all together now - "You're fired!"
She was watching the first season. Every episode. "She said, 'I could beat those people,' " said her husband, KCCI-TV meteorologist Kurtis Gertz.It was her mother who said to her, "Tana, you need to go on that.""I asked my husband if he minded . . . and he said, 'Absolutely not,' " Tana said. "We have a live-and-let-live relationship, and he said, 'If it's something you want, go for it.' "As for being away from her two children, Myles, 10, and Tori, 6, she says they're unselfish kids who understood this was an important opportunity for her. They didn't cry or make her feel bad about the time away when the show was taped.
"As long as Kurtis and I are happy, they're happy," she said.It was during her 20s that Tana decided to get happy with herself. All her life, she felt different. She dreamed of opening an exclusive nursing home or writing children's books. She volunteered with the elderly.
Thrives on competition
Then there's her competitive streak, the reason she was voted "Most Likely to Succeed" in high school. And the reason she's one of three contestants left on "The Apprentice."Some people have a competitive side. Tana is all competitive side. According to Kurtis, she'd knock down a wall to win a friendly game of pingpong.It's something that's always been with her, growing up in Pennsylvania with four siblings, through the family's moves to Maryland, Michigan and Utah, and on the swim team at Archbishop Carroll High School for Girls in Radnor, Pa. Perhaps she got it from her salesman father or entrepreneur mother.It guided her as she applied to "The Apprentice" with a video showing her selling Mary Kay cosmetics to car salesmen. It nailed a decision by the show's producers to cast her.
"I've always been an entrepreneur," she said. "I had started a furniture consignment store. . . . I had a consignment clothing store, an eBay business, Mary Kay. Doing things on a small scale, but doing well."That's not to say there weren't hard moments. Particularly since the show started airing, Tana has been overwhelmed by the attention she receives around town.Tana likes it when people give her a quick good-luck wave, or say "Way to go, Tana!" or "I'm a big fan!" But being interrogated about the show takes a lot of time. It turns every outing - from the grocery store to the mall - into a drawn-out ordeal.
"It's exhausting to have every person ask 10 to 15 questions," she said, "but I'm happy."She leaves home less often since the show began. She can't have a quiet meal out with her family, which is one of her favorite activities. But she's busy with signings for a new children's book about self-esteem, working with K. Renee clothing, rock climbing with her daughter and taking her son to baseball practice.It's hard to believe that Tana, who's been so poised on the show and is assertively friendly and polished in person, ever loses her composure. But she does. She recently lost it big-time in an airport - a series of airports, actually.
On her way back from a photo shoot with InTouch magazine in New York, her flight was delayed. She called her husband, and he told her there weren't any flights out."I was going to spend the night in Cincinnati," she said. "I didn't want to be in the airport, bombarded by fans and 20 questions."
Reduced to tears
Tana wheeled her suitcase into a corner, unzipped it and started crying. She pulled out her pajamas to wipe her eyes.She pressed on through three more airports, trying to get back to Iowa. Everywhere she went, people recognized her and asked to take pictures with her."I must have met 75 fans and taken 40 pictures," she said. Her face was caked with makeup from the photo shoot.She finally got back home and went to the bathroom for the first time."I had mascara running down my face, and I looked like a linebacker," she said. "All these people, and no one told me."Being able to look at herself in a mirror is important for other reasons. The front hallway in Tana's house is lined with old mirrors she's refinished. Many are hung at a child's eye level, so the kids can see themselves as they go past. Tana had a sister who hated looking in mirrors. She doesn't want her kids to feel that way."I ask what they see, and Tori will say, 'I see a happy girl' or 'A girl whose mommy loves her.' "
Strong self-esteem
Since she finished taping the show, Tana wrote and self-published "I'm Bigger Than This!," a children's book that's available through her Web site, It's an illustrated book about a fish named Finny who wears a goldfish suit to fit in with others, but who is actually a shark. Tana said it's all about boosting children's self-worth.
"Good self-esteem starts in the house, and so many adults and kids don't have good self-esteem," she said. Tana said she has a gift of encouragement and wants to pass that on to kids who need it.Her own children say their mother has done great.Myles said of the weeks she was away, "We had McDonald's every night!"Kurtis and Tana have been married five years, and he adopted Myles and Tori. It is Tana's second marriage.Tana said she tries to make Thursday night a special night for the family, to repay them for their patience. The kids also get souvenirs she saved from the show.
One week, her team received a reward at a jewelry store, and Kurtis reaped the reward with some pricey cuff links. Last week, Myles got one of the Rock Star Couture T-shirts Tana and fellow contestant Alex created on the show.Talking is allowed only during commercials, when the kids get very frank with their mother."Myles said, 'When you answer the phone, you look horrible,' " Tana remembered of a show that had her getting up early to get the phone.
What if wins a yearlong job with Trump?"I didn't think too much about it," Tana admitted. "I knew I could win it, but I knew I had a man who loves me and the kids, and Kurtis said, 'We're the same four people who love each other and we'll always be together.' ""I didn't think about the logistics."
Tana talks
TANA ON TV: "Kurtis and I don't make a big deal about being on TV. He's taught me a lot of stuff. To him, it's no different than anyone else. You're nobody special for being on TV."TANA ON PARTICIPATING IN "THE APPRENTICE": "I told the kids a week before I left, and they kept it a secret. It was a family secret, and we don't have secrets." TANA ON FAME: "I never wanted to be a celebrity. I wanted to be the first female apprentice. I didn't realize that comes with it."TANA ON ADVICE FROM HER FAMILY: "Tori told me to wear makeup. Myles said, 'If you have a toy task, go with a remote control thing.' Kurtis' advice was, 'Go be who you are.' "TANA ON TANA: "I'm all or nothing. If I'm in, I'm all in."ON TV: "The Apprentice" airs at 8 Thursday on NBC.WHAT'S NEXT? On Thursday, Tana and Kara will be pitted against each other in two tasks - competing in a PlayStation video game tournament and working on New York's bid for the 2012 Olympics.THE FINALE: The final episode is May 19. The conclusion of the previous taped tasks will be shown first. Then, in a live boardroom, Donald Trump will hire one of the finalists.


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