EXCLUSIVE: Fired ‘Apprentice’ Journey from Homeless to Trump’s Boardroom

Gene Folkes shares what he learned from his reality TV experience

Folkes on the firing line in the boardroom.

TASK 5: The fashion show was obviously not my favorite task.  I stepped up to emcee the event because I have had numerous public speaking engagements.  Wade was our PM.  I won’t go into all of the specifics as they would sound too close to excuses.  Suffice to say that I will own the fact that my performance was not my best.  There were major circumstances that the editors did not show in the final cut.  What I refused to own (and I believe was ultimately fired for) was a label of “inarticulate.”  Part of ownership is to know what is yours and what is not.  I paid a hefty price for refusing to own something that is not mine–not me.  I am not and have never been described as inarticulate.  As a black man, I find that type of insult to be among the worst.  I also refused to give scathing commentary and place blame on my team members.  Unfortunately, they did not return the favor.  The lesson here is to be willing to own your faults and unwilling to accept faults that are not yours.  This lesson comes with a disclaimer also.  This type of discerning ownership is not popular with most people (especially billionaires with cameras rolling and ratings falling).  I say this with no malice.  I believe that I will find the reward for owning and not owning on the other side of The Apprentice.

Fast forward to life back in Texas: I have been off the show for just seven days and cannot tell you how much wonderful support and great feedback I have received.  I still have a fantastic business plan and am currently being approached by potential investors.  I remain committed to owning my own project.  I have also been approached with some opportunities to get back in front of the cameras.  In terms of the “Putting America Back to Work” theme of this edition of The Apprentice, I have not had any contact or further discussions with Donald Trump or anyone from the show.  Many of my fellow cast members are struggling to make ends meet until the end of the season, hoping that this show will deliver what it promised.  In the meantime, we are all learning that the one thing you must own and never share, delegate, give away or entrust to another is your personal brand.  Whether on television or the street where you live, you must always maintain control over who you are.

Gene Folkes’ OWN IT-isms: Keys to Owning Your Brand and Your Performance:

1. Take Inventory. When you hit a low point, immediately determine: What do I have? What do I need? What are my options? How much risk can I afford?

2. Take Action. Do whatever is in front of you to do. Make a decision and go for it. Part of owning it involves a leap of faith.

3. Take Note. If your first impression of someone is not positive, make a note to pay attention and watch this person. Your initial instincts are usually right.

4. Take A Break. When working for a leader who doesn’t own it, take a break from the group and independently work to meet your targets.

5. Take Initiative. When in a leadership role, step up and get the ball rolling. Don’t let anyone wrestle control away from you. You will be held responsible for the outcome.

6. Take A Stand. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Stand up to threats and own your brand–the good, the bad and the ugly. It may be all you own, so it is worth fighting for.

See Gene’s exit interview below.

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  • http://unofficialapprentice.blogspot.com/ Rightersblokk

    Gene was one of my favorites to win this competition.
    Unfortunately, he got fired for owning the task and not throwing everyone else under the bus.
    His integrity will take him further than surviving that boardroom would have.
    What most of the contestants do not realize is that the stuff they do is on record forever. Ten,fifteen, twenty years from now, it’s still going to come back to haunt them.