Sunday, December 18, 2005

Trump caught off guard by Apprentice TV Show finale

Welcome to New York, Rebecca
Even Trump was shocked when the 'Apprentice' turned ruthless with his rival from Minnesota.
Pioneer Press
Donald Trump says he was caught off guard on Thursday night's live finale of his NBC reality show "The Apprentice."
After he hired all-around nice guy Randal Pinkett, Trump asked Pinkett if he should also hire his competitor, Twin Cities native Rebecca Jarvis. But Pinkett wasn't about to share the limelight.
"I thought that Randal would most likely say, 'Yes,' " Trump said via speaker phone Friday afternoon from his office at Trump Tower in New York City. "That was a real curveball in the middle of a very big night."
The surprise came when Pinkett told Trump, "This is the 'Apprentice,' not the 'Apprenti.' "
Going into the finale, many followers of "The Apprentice" speculated Trump would shock everyone by hiring both finalists — Pinkett and Jarvis — something he had never done on the show's previous three installments. While Pinkett celebrated his win by jumping from his chair and hugging former teammates, Jarvis sat at the boardroom table facing Trump and his assistants, George Ross and Carolyn Kepcher.
"When Trump called Randal back to the table, Trump was smiling," Jarvis said Friday, adding she received more than 700 e-mails in a mere two hours from fans expressing shock at Pinkett's decision. "George winked at me and Carolyn gave me a smile. I felt like we were about to become one big happy family."
Pinkett told the Pioneer Press he didn't regret Thursday night's decision.
"I draw the analogy that it's like if you were to win the gold medal in the Olympics and then the International Olympic Committee called you and asked if you were willing to give another gold medal to the silver medalist," he said. "At the end of the day, all I did was give Mr. Trump my recommendation. It was ultimately his decision to not hire Rebecca."
Jarvis, a St. Paul Academy graduate and an alum of the University of Chicago, suffered a broken ankle early on in the show's season. The injury forced the 24-year-old Chicago-based financial journalist to complete a variety of business-oriented tasks as part of the competition while on crutches. Some have called her a female version of Trump, thanks to the strength and determination that she demonstrated throughout the shows 13 episodes. And Trump doesn't mind that comparison one bit.
"She is a fantastic woman," Trump said. "I think she's just outstanding. I'm very honored if people says she's a young version of me."
But Pinkett also had some hard news to deal with. The 34-year-old business entrepreneur and Rhodes scholar had to deal with the death of his grandmother and leave the show for a brief time to attend her funeral.
Both Pinkett and Jarvis, daughter of former Pioneer Press columnist Gail MarksJarvis, excelled on the show. Jarvis showed consistent improvement on challenges over the course of "The Apprentice," while Pinkett remained an unwavering force. Since Thursday night, many people have posted comments on various Web sites expressing disappointment with Pinkett's actions. Matt Sinovic, a 24-year-old political science major at Washburn University in Topeka, Kan., was so outraged by Jarvis losing that he decided to start a Web site called
"If the site gets a lot of signatures, hopefully that will convince Trump to give Rebecca a job," Sinovic said.
Trump said he actually did plan to hire them both, but decided to ask for Pinkett's opinion first since he felt that he had been "a star on the show."
"I have mixed feelings," Trump said about the outcome. "I think most people would have said, 'OK, you could do that,' but Randal felt strongly that it shouldn't happen that way. Randal was very tough and didn't take the easy way out. I respect his decision. And once he said that, I was really in a position where I had to go along with that."
Did Pinkett think Trump put him in an awkward position? "That's a great question," Pinkett said, "but I now work for the man. But that's a great question."
Jack Militello, a professor of management at the University of St. Thomas, agreed with Trump's decision to hire Pinkett, but he, too, was taken aback by Pinkett's rejection of Trump's plan to hire Jarvis.
"I think Trump was feeling magnanimous and wanted his new hire to share in his graciousness," Militello said. "I was appalled by Pinkett's decision. It was so uncalled for and so ego-driven. It showed that he can't be trusted. His actions said that winning is everything and that's acceptable behavior. When I see this in business, I just cringe."
Though Pinkett won the job with Trump, as of Friday, Jarvis has had "a handful of high-caliber offers on the table" that she was "seriously considering." Yahoo executives even offered her a job Friday morning during her "Today Show" interview with Katie Couric.
"On some levels, it's great to be in this position," Jarvis said. "It's actually my decision, and I love the fact that I'm going to have ownership over that decision."
Trump also benefits from the controversial finale. This season of "The Apprentice" has suffered from a significant drop in ratings compared with previous seasons, but all the Internet chatter and water-cooler talk about the finale has stirred up a renewed interest in the show.
"I think hands-down that this is the best finale that 'The Apprentice' has ever had. Period," said Whitney Pastorek, the Entertainment Weekly correspondent who has been covering the show for "People will be talking about this for a while. Considering the way the show has jumped off the radar, this is one of the best things that could have happened to it."
Trump's fifth season of "The Apprentice" will once again be set in New York and air in the spring. The show's sixth edition will be based in Los Angeles and air in late 2006.
Amy Carlson Gustafson can be reached at agustafson@pioneer or 651-228-5561.
"This is the 'Apprentice,' not the 'Apprenti.' "
Randall Pinkett
"She is a fantastic woman. I'm very honored if people says she's a young version of me."
"Apprentice" host Donald Trump


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