You're hired, the apprentice
walked in an entrepreneur and walked away a winner
by April Y. Pennington
After 13 riveting weeks, Donald Trump made his final
decision and chose entrepreneur Bill Rancic as "The
Apprentice" Rancic, 33, who nine years ago
started Cigars Around the World.com, an online purveyor
of premium cigars (which he sold in 2003), has also
run real estate development company Rancic Properties
for the past three years. Now he will oversee construction
of the Trump International Hotel & Tower in
Chicago. I caught up with Rancic only days after
the announcement to learn more about his thrilling
How do you think your entrepreneurial background
gave you an edge over the competition?
Bill Rancic: My instincts were honed in business.
You hone your instincts and your ability to adjust
your style with each task. If you [watched] the
show, my management style changed with each task
In one episode, another contender's Harvard MBA
education is compared to your entrepreneurial path.
Was your path best?
Rancic: Many different roads lead to the same destination.
For me, that was the best road. Is the entrepreneurial
way of life for everyone? No, of course not. Some
people need to know that every Friday they're going
to get their 0 or whatever, and it's going to be
there 52 weeks a year. I don't need that. I'm more
about the thrill and the excitement. I like to hit
the home runs; I want to be the Mark McGwire or
Sammy Sosa. That's just my style and the way I operate
What was your first entrepreneurial inkling?
Rancic: When I was 10, my parents took me to my
grandma's house for the weekend, and she taught
me how to make pancakes. The next day, I invited
all the old neighborhood ladies over for breakfast
and [I] cooked pancakes. When they left, they all
put bills underneath their plates. So each week,
I kept asking to go to my grandma's. One afternoon,
my mom found this stack of money under my bed and
was a little alarmed [that I] had all this money.
Well, I had a major restaurant operating out of
my grandma's house!
Will going from entrepreneur to employee be difficult?
Rancic: I feel it's going to be very easy for me
to integrate myself into that organization. I'm
the president of the division, but the Trump organization
is very entrepreneurial. It's a great family-type
culture. I had a meeting yesterday, and it was Donald
Trump, a couple of his advisors and myself. There
were no committees and subcommittees; decisions
get made quickly.
Have you actually started your position yet?
Rancic: I started the minute [Trump] said I was
hired. Donald Trump is the king of promotion, and
he's teaching me the art of promotion right now.
So I'm definitely on the clock.
Whom have you learned from so far from in this experience?
Rancic: I've learned from the 15 other contestants
I've worked with, Mr. Trump, his advisory board,
and right now, the media and [its] power. As an
entrepreneur, you always want to be learning, advancing
and bettering yourself; and that's what I'm doing.
Had I not tried CigarsAroundtheWorld.com, I would
have never been here today. I will always be a part
of [that company] in advising them.
Several of your competitors have decided to start
their own ventures. What do you think about the
entrepreneurial spirit that has resulted in the
Rancic: I think the show has renewed the entrepreneurial
spirit. It really represents the American Dream.
People need to know the American Dream is still
alive and well. You don't need a Harvard MBA, and
you don't need a million dollars to be successful
in America. A guy like me can go out there and start
a business, and now I'm working with Donald Trump.
How great is this country?
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COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group