Photograph by Mike Pont — FilmMagic/Getty Images

Trump's "apprentices" had plenty to say about the presidential hopeful's management style.

By Benjamin Snyder
June 16, 2015
June 16, 2015

It’s official. Real estate mogul, television personality, and political gadfly Donald Trump announced that he is running for president on Tuesday.

Trump, who debuted as the host of NBC’s The Apprentice in 2004, has used the televised business competition to make certain that he is in the public eye. Since the show was launched, seven contestants have successfully won a spot as Trump’s apprentice for a year, which comes with a $250,000 payday. The Apprentice was renewed for its 15th season in February.

Fortune caught up with nearly all seven of the winners of the original program (it switched over to a celebrity-only program after season six) and quizzed them about Trump’s leadership and management style. Here’s what some of his former apprentices have been up to during the last few years and what they learned from Trump.


Season 1: Bill Rancic

LAS VEGAS, NV - JULY 13: Television personality Bill Rancic speaks to the attendees as he hosts The North American Hairstyling Awards (NAHA) 25th anniversary celebration at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center on July 13, 2014 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Bryan Steffy/WireImage)
Photograph by Bryan Steffy — WireImage/Getty Images

Bill Rancic, the winner of The Apprentice’s first and most watched season, has since been speaking about his experiences on the television show and in business and has also appeared in a reality television show alongside his wife, Guiliana Rancic, for seven seasons.

Rancic told Fortune that Trump is a “guy who held up his end of the bargain.” Rancic added, “He truly took me under his wing.”

An entrepreneur in his own right, Rancic spoke fondly about having the opportunity to watch Trump negotiate deals during his apprenticeship following the show. During his stint with Trump, he helped lead the construction of the Trump Tower Chicago.

Rancic said he learned another important lesson from Trump: “You’ve got to have good people around you,” he said. “You can’t do it alone.” Rancic continued, “He knows how to get the best out of those people.”


Season 2: Kelly Perdew

Kelly Perdew during Degree For Men All In Poker Experience at ESPN Zone in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage)
Photograph by Dimitrios Kambouris — WireImage/Getty Images

Kelly Perdew, who was victorious in the second season of The Apprentice, is now a serial investor. He serves as an angel investor in numerous tech startups and is also the CEO of TargetClose, an optimization platform for marketers.

Perdew said that watching Trump helped him realize the importance of multitasking on the job. “One of the things I’ve worked on is prioritization,” he added, saying that Trump is a “master of that.”

Perdew also noted that Trump is a fiercely loyal person, noting that it’s one of “Donald’s most salient characteristics.”


Season 3: Kendra Todd

Kendra Todd during Donald Trump Interviews Candidates for NBC's "The Apprentice" Season Five at Trump Tower in New York City, New York, United States. (Photo by Daniel J. Barry/WireImage)
Photograph by Daniel J. Barry — WireImage/Getty Images

The first woman to win The Apprentice, Kendra Todd is currently a real estate broker.

“I believe I’m the only winner who actually got to work with Donald Trump in a capacity that was aligned with my own industry,” she told Fortune. During her yearlong apprenticeship, Todd oversaw the sale of a Palm Beach mansion.

“The biggest impression of that time with him was that he’s willing to push the boundaries of what people believe,” she said. “He really showed that his name in itself has intrinsic value.


Season 4: Randal Pinkett

Donald Trump and Randal Pinkett during Ribbon Cutting for The Trump Exchange at the Taj Mahal in Atlantic City - August 3, 2006 at Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ, United States. (Photo by Tom Briglia/FilmMagic)
Photograph by Tom Briglia — FilmMagic/Getty Images

Randal Pinkett, the first and only African American winner of The Apprentice, is currently CEO of BCT Partners, a consulting firm.

Pinkett worked on an Atlantic City project to renovate Trump Taj Mahal during his apprenticeship and considers the exposure he received from the show to be the biggest boon to his career.

Pinkett says that the business tactics he learned helping Trump run his massive real estate operation have helped him with his own business. “At the end of the year, what I concluded is it’s not that different,” he told Fortune. “[His company] might have more zeroes than I did, but the fundamental business applies.”

“He [Trump] focused his time on what he would call the art of the deal. He didn’t get bogged down in project management and legal matters.”


Season 5: Sean Yazbeck

LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 22: TV personality Sean Yazbeck attends the 8th Annual BritWeek Launch Party at a private residence on April 22, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Photograph by Frazer Harrison — Getty Images

Yazbeck currently runs Wavsys, a telecommunications company. He credits Trump for helping him start his business. “I learned a lot of things from Mr. Trump,” he explained, including taking on the mantra, “Do something you love and do something you know.”

Yazbeck decided to launch a telecommunications business as that was his industry prior to winning his season of The Apprentice. During his apprenticeship, Yazbeck oversaw the development of Trump SoHo in New York City.

A piece of advice he received from Trump: He “would say you should always stay relevant [and] need to be in the public eye.”


Season 6: Stefanie Schaeffer

DESERT HOT SPRINGS, CA - FEBRUARY 11: (L-R) Stefanie Schaeffer and Signor Mobley attend 2nd Canada California business council celebrity golf classic at Desert Dunes Golf Club on February 10, 2012 in Desert Hot Springs, California. (Photo by Tibrina Hobson/WireImage)
Photograph by Tibrina Hobson — WireImage/Getty Images

Stefanie Schaeffer won season six of The Apprentice is now working as a motivational speaker. Schaeffer oversaw a project in Santo Domingo for Trump.

She says she was most impressed by Trump’s ability to remember and ask about everything. “He really blew me away with [his depth],” she said in an interview with Fortune. “He really was into every little detail, he knew it from the back of his hand. He wasn’t painting with broad strokes.” For instance, she recalls hearing Trump on the phone and remember “the last little detail of a budget.”

What did Trump teach Schaeffer about management? She said it’s important to “have all the facts before you jump on anyone for anything.”

“Don’t rely on half the story,” and “don’t put off to tomorrow an issue that needs to be dealt with today.”

Schaeffer also said that Trump taught her the importance of diversifying investments. “Plant a little seed money here and there,” she said.

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