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Clarification and Conscience: To Become the Apprentice You Must Earn It
Reflections on The Apprentice 4 Finale from Randal Pinkett

Monday, January 9, 2006, 11:24 am Eastern

As someone who has pursued business ventures since he opened lemonade stands as a kid, one of my favorite commercials growing up was from Smith Barney. It had a now-famous line, "We make money the old fashioned way, we earn it!" I loved that commercial. It was entertaining and educational. The underlying message was that while there are plenty of ways to make money, the admired way is to actually earn it. As I have reflected on The Apprentice 4 finale, my thoughts have brought back fond memories of that commercial and its message.

My purpose for issuing this statement is not necessarily to change the opinions of people who have been critical of my actions during the last minutes of the finale. Instead, the purpose is to offer clarification on certain issues stemming from the finale that have been misunderstood and misrepresented in the media, as well as to freely and formally express my conscience without having to package my words into succinct sound bites.

To begin, I offer a few facts simply for the purpose of clarification. First, it was clear to me at the time and Mr. Trump has confirmed that when he asked, "Should I hire Rebecca also?" that Mr. Trump was soliciting my opinion on whether she should be crowned as an equal co-Apprentice, not hired for a runner-up job. Undoubtedly, this is the most prevalent misunderstanding from the finale. Second, I was not fully prepared for this question. Instead, I was prepared for an outright double hiring. Third, my response to Mr. Trump’s question was not, "No," but rather that "tonight" he should hire one and only one as the Apprentice. Fourth and finally, I did not deliberately seek to "block" Rebecca from a job with the Trump Organization out of spitefulness, as a result of her past behavior toward me, or simply to demonstrate toughness. Could I have stated my position more gracefully? Certainly. I actually thought my answer was somewhat tactful, as it was preceeded with glowing compliments. Could I have added a few statements that encouraged Mr. Trump to still offer a job to the runner-up? Absolutely. But, once again, nothing I said that evening suggested that I was opposed to giving her a job. The fact that I didn’t make this explicit created more controversy than I could have imagined at the time. Nonetheless, hindsight is indeed 20/20 and Monday morning quarterbacking doesn’t change the outcome of the game.

For those who, having recognized these facts, still take issue with my actions, we must agree to disagree. My behavior in life and on television has shown me to be someone who is respectful, genuine and humble, not egotistical, selfish or in search of the limelight. Anyone who has had the opportunity to meet and know me, including my fellow contestants will attest to this. Prior to the finale, I would have been naively inclined to believe that the presentation of my personality on television was durable enough to withstand certain challenges. I’ve now learned that certain members of the viewing public and the media are all too willing to cast those impressions aside, rather than wrestle with identifying the underlying consistency between my actions and my character. Such behavior will continue to manifest itself by those who read (or skim) this statement only to deafly cast it aside as "damage control", an insincere attempt to repair my public perception, or some other form of revisionist, spin-doctoring. For those who say that they have lost "all respect" for me, it is certainly disappointing, but I respectfully submit that if that is indeed the case then you did not have very much respect for me to begin with. It is easy, if not convenient to say that I spent twelve weeks hiding my "true colors" only to reveal them in the final episode. What requires deeper thought is to understand why my actions in the final episode were very much consistent with the principles that guided me throughout the weeks preceding the finale.

Recognizing that Mr. Trump was soliciting my thoughts on co-Apprentices, not co-employment, my message was plain and simple: I believe that I fairly and decisively earned the title of the Apprentice and could not, in good conscience, recommend the proposition of co-Apprentices. It is something I would have reasonably considered if I believed the competition was indeed that close, but that has never been my opinion with all due respect to Rebecca who was a truly outstanding competitor. Interestingly and sadly, what has been conspicuously absent from many of the articles and postings criticizing me is an associated, cogent argument based on reasonable criteria stating how Rebecca legitimately earned the right to be the Apprentice. I believe that I more than sufficiently distinguished myself as the decisive winner, which does not contradict the support or admiration I continue to express toward Rebecca. She was a strong teammate. She has proven herself to be a very intelligent, determined and capable individual who I respect for her perseverance. At the same time, my academic and professional record far exceeds hers. In the midst of a personal tragedy, I had an undefeated record of 3-0 as a project manager. She had a losing record of 1-2 as a project manager. I had a winning team record of 7-4. She had a losing team record of 4-7. When we went head-to-head as project managers, I defeated her. I was consistently identified as one of the strongest members of my team by virtue of being drafted on two occasions by the opposing team. Exactly 20,270 (81%) of those polled by NASDAQ just prior to the finale believed I should be the winner, compared to only 4,838 (19%) for my competitor. Notwithstanding the challenges that were portrayed on my task, for our final charity fundraisers I raised over $11,000 for Autism Speaks and she raised $0 (and, yes, my charity also continues to receive donations as a result of my team’s efforts including $50,000 from the finale that was raised independent of her efforts and my own). Lastly, what I believe is the strongest testament to my performance is that fourteen of the sixteen candidates who lived and worked with both of us believe I deserved to be the sole winner, including two of the three people who worked for her on the final task. I don't offer this information to be critical of Rebecca, but rather to present the facts as I saw them that evening. Whereas my supporters tend to point to these facts, my critics tend to conveniently overlook them. I have yet to see a similarly convincing argument stating how Rebecca earned the right to be a co-Apprentice.

In conclusion, for those claiming it would not have taken anything away from my win, I respectfully disagree. But, I don’t disagree from the perspective of a "me, me, me" childish, selfish, competition-fearing, egotistical, sore winner who wanted to hog the limelight as some have suggested. I disagree from the perspective of someone who is more than happy to share the limelight if I believe it has been earned. It may not have diminished the victory in the eyes of certain members of the viewing public but, I submit, if you closely compare our performance on the show it should have. More importantly, it would have compromised my integrity whereas my principles are far more important than popularity. My words during the last minutes of the finale were intended to convey this message and this message only: to become the Apprentice you must do so the old-fashioned way, you must earn it. The value of excellence is just as important a lesson for our children as the virtue of sharing. Each has its appropriate time and place. I honestly and truthfully do not believe that a co-Apprenticeship was earned, and I consider it a disservice to ask someone to share a victory with a clear runner-up, no matter how laudable the runner-up’s efforts may be. I stood firm on this point at the finale and I will stand firm on it hereafter with the same smile, style and grace that characterized my performance throughout the "job interview of a lifetime"!

God bless my fans and my critics.



Note: Any media article that has commented on my experience working with The Trump Organization or with Mr. Trump thus far is based on misinformation, as I have yet to even begin my assignment. As of this posting, I expect to begin my assignment with Trump Entertainment Resorts in Atlantic City, NJ, sometime in February 2006. Stay tuned for more information!

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