The Apprentice 2010: Task 5 Performance Review

Each week as contestants compete for a $250,000 job contract, get the leadership lessons you can use to succeed

As inarticulate as Gene was during Octane's fashion show, it was his insistence on talking in the boardroom that got him fired.

The 2010 edition of The Apprentice, NBC’s business reality show starring and executive produced by real estate mogul Donald Trump, features entrepreneurs and professionals competing for a $250,000 job contract with the Trump organization. By now, the format is familiar: Each week the contestants, divided into two teams, must complete a business task. The winning team is rewarded; the losing team must report to the infamous boardroom, where one member will be fired by Trump. This edition of The Apprentice features three African American job candidates: Kelly Beaty, Gene Folkes and Liza Mucheru-Wisner.

Get exclusive behind-the-scenes insights on Task 5 of The Apprentice via our Live Chat with Kelly Beaty

With each task of The Apprentice 2010, I will post performance reviews of the candidates, their teams and their project managers. In addition, I will assess the performances of Kelly, Gene and Liza for as long as they remain in The Apprentice talent pool.

Read and comment on other performance reviews of The Apprentice 2010 Tasks.

Leadership Lesson: A leader’s job is not only to set the course, but to monitor performance, to ensure that everything stays on course–and to take decisive action when things go awry. Nothing justifies a captain’s failure to take the helm when it’s obvious that the ship is heading for a collision with an iceberg.

Bonus Lesson: When guilty of a major failure on the job, accept responsibility for the failure–then shut up. Never suggest or volunteer for punishment. If the boss asks you to recommend your own punishment, don’t take the bait. Assert your trust in your boss’s decision-making authority, while making the argument for your past positive contributions and future value to the organization despite your most recent failure. Your goal should be to avoid being fired and to be given another chance. NEVER, out of a grand show of personal accountability or an over-estimation of your own value, invite your boss to fire you. If you’ve committed a “capital offense”, the last thing you need to do is to point out to the “executioner” that he has an axe in his hands and the right to swing it–as if he didn’t know that already.

TASK 5: Present fashion shows featuring the Spring/Summer 2011 product line for Rockport Shoes, with the men of Octane showcasing the women’s line and the women of Fortitude showcasing the men’s.

Wade Hanson, following through on the promise he made to Trump to lead on a task after Octane’s loss on Task 3, is project manager on this task. Stephanie Castagnier confidently steps up to lead Fortitude.

Stephanie immediately springs into confident, decisive action as her team’s leader, calling on her team to focus on winning, not exploiting one another’s weaknesses. She assigns Kelly, citing her creativity and flair for fashion, to handle production of the fashion show. She tasks Liza and Poppy Carlig with assisting Kelly and charges Mahsa Saeidi-Azcuy with keeping the team on schedule. For the role of fashion show emcee, Stephanie chooses Brandy Kuentzel, because she’s “beautiful, polished and an eloquent speaker….that’s who I want on the microphone.” Stephanie also comes up with a “Day in the Life” of a sophisticated, style-savvy male potential customer of Rockport Shoes, in response to Kelly calling for a theme for Fortitude’s show. Her team immediately buys in, with Mahsa even giving their ideal customer a name, Tristan (Brad Pitt’s character in the 1994 film Legends of the Fall). Then, Stephanie calls for something risky and bold to put Fortitude’s fashion show over the top. Kelly responds with an idea guaranteed to be a jaw-dropper: a finale featuring their male models wearing nothing but underwear and Rockports. (In an earlier version of this post, I incorrectly credited Stephanie with coming up with the idea for the finale.) With the exception of Poppy, her entire team enthusiastically embraces the idea, although Kelly later worries that the move could backfire. After Kelly and Poppy go shopping for their models, the fashion show rehearsal goes without a hitch, except for Liza pointing out to Kelly a model with scrapes and scratches on his legs should not be modeling in shorts. Kelly ignores Liza’s suggestion that a different model wear that outfit.

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  • Kathryn

    Actually, I didn’t see Gene say anything other than taking full responsibility and refusing to throw anyone under the bus. There is quite a bit of controversy surrounding what really went on in the boardroom prior to editing. I encourage you to visit one of the other contestant’s blogs: http://mahsawho.com/?p=477. Mahsa has written a very thought provoking commentary on what you think you saw versus what really went down. I never think it is advisable for people of color to shut up and take it when their literacy and intelligence is being questioned. I am actually quite surprised and disappointed by your assessment. I think Gene showed loyalty to an undeserving Project Manager and quite a bit of decorum in dealing with the only ego in the room–Donald Trump. He made a major mistake in firing Gene and humiliating him in a manner that renders him virtually unemployable. I was under the impression that the aim of this show was to help people struggling in a bad economy. How does calling someone illiterate and devoid of speaking skills help them? How could anyone think that another human being deserved to be treated so disrespectfully? Meanwhile the crazy rating booster David lives to clown another week after failing to do anything other than leave his teammate in the lurch. This is what entertains us? The Apprentice has really lost its way (I fear we as a country have done the same) and I am through watching.

    • Calvin J. Adolph

      Gene did a better job responding on Mahsa’s blog than he did below. Final thought: I treat The Apprentice just as the Romans in the Coliseum did – as only a spectator sport where producers will do almost anything for ratings. This will disappear as soon as we stop watching.

  • http://mrtrustedguide.com DRAKEDEVA

    I think these The Apprentice has really lost its way

  • BaberDashery

    Alfred, I agree with you 95%. We know from previous seasons of the Apprentice if your performance is substandard on a task and you literally tell Mr.Trump to “go ahead and fire me” yeah you’re going to get FIRED!  Anyway, that was a pretty massive attack on Gene’s Task 5 inability to articulate. I am not sure about Gene’s pride getting in the way, that was an attack for everyone to hear.  There is a certain level of professionalism “The Donald” could’ve displayed with out the embarrassment. I believe that would have been a true display of “Leadership” on Mr. Trump’s behalf. I think Gene had every right to defend his communication skills. This was just one bad display, nobody criticize his speaking ability previously. Especially when he led his team to victory.  Now Wade, he deserved to go. He lacked focus, motivation, direction and leadership. He let Octane tank. No pun intended.  

  • Kashburne

    Kathryn, I’m sorry. But the Apprentice has been on for what, 10 years now? All of these candidates (particularly this is a HUGE shot for them) should have done their “Trump research”. This article is DEAD-ON. NEVER get arrogant with Trump in the boardroom. It wasn’t about Gene taking responsibility and not throwing anyone under the bus…its about SURVIVAL. He should’ve admitted his wrong…and then shut his mouth. On what planet do you even SUGGEST that someone fire you?? Unnecessary talking ALWAYS gets people fired in the boardroom. Hopefully he got the lesson…

    • Kathryn

      Kashburne,

      Point taken. The show has been on for 9 seasons prior. I think it is important to keep in mind that this season was not typical. These contestants came seeking help. They are not Ivy League brats who want a better job or their own prime time show. and studied and strategized to stay on top I think Gene’s commercial stated, “I have no Plan B”. That doesn’t sound like a strategist…that sounds like a man who is out of options and willing to swallow his pride to do what he has to do. If that was indeed the aim, Mr. Trump should have trod a little more delicately. I for one looked forward to a more humanitarian mission from the billionaire. I was hoping that the show would have heart–I didn’t tune in to see drama and foolishness–that’s on every other reality show.
      I didn’t see Gene’s arrogance, I saw someone who took responsibility, stayed quiet and left the decision to the boss. For that he deserved to be raked over the coals? In the words of the truly great Hall and Oates, “I can’t go for that”….

  • Alfred Edmond Jr.

    Kashburne, great pointing out that candidates should have researched Trump’s habits and tendencies as part of their preparation. I seem to remember Gene saying in his interview on the NBC/The Apprentice website that he hadn’t watched earlier editions of the show.

    Katherine, in addition to Gene taking responsibility for his performance and refusing to throw other people under the bus (which I found to be truly impressive, professional and indicative of how a good leader would handle himself in adversity), he told Trump that he could fire him if he saw fit to do so. That was a huge mistake. After accepting accountability for his performance and refusing to place blame on others, Gene should have SHUT UP, no matter what Trump said about his speaking skills (although I agree with BaberDashery that Trump was really laying it on unnecessarily thick with his criticism of Gene’s performance).

    Alfred

  • http://www.spedient.com Nichole Hodge

    Alfred I agree with the majority of your assessment. However we disagree as it pertains to Gene’s firing. By suggesting that Trump fire him if he “wants to” merely provided a convenient segue. I believe that Trump (like me) had already decided whom he would fire and in this case-it would be both Wade & Gene. In fact, this was the first time that I decided who would get th axe prior to the boardroom. Not much to say about the ladies as they did a phenomenal job. Kelly specifically, architected a fashion show in one day that was near brilliant. Too bad she couldnt get PM points for this one.

    Wade was one of the weakesr PM’s that I’ve seen on this show. He showed absolutely no leadership qualities whatsoever. He didnt have a proper guage of timelines, milestones or the skillset of his teammates and was essentially irrelevant as a leader. However, I was especially disappointed with Gene’s performance. In my opinion, barring a case of stage fright, his was the easiest task. Given his claim that he was a quite experienced public speaker, all that was left was for him to do was compile & condense the data on the footwear, then present it in an understandable and interesting manner. He worked all day and completed nothing. How difficult should that have been for a seasoned professional? His performance was an embarrassment. I understand Trumps anger because I too was angry at Gene.

    Honestly, I wasnt that impressed with his win on Task 1. He started off weak and won by the skin of his teeth. But I did view him as a polished and talented professional. His most recent performance caused me to look at him differently. Most of us remember an instance early in our career when we were ill-prepared for a presentation. Likewise, most of us vowed to NEVER let that happen again. How could Gene make such a rookie mistake? Especially when the opportunity of a lifetime is at stake? I have to disagree with Kathryn. If Gene is rendered unemployable as a result of this task, it is his own doing. Kathryn have you known Trump to be a sensitive & subtle individual who holds his tongue? Why then would you expect him to start now, especially in light of the atrocious performance by Gene? The show’s objective is NOT to help those “struggling in a bad economy”. The objective is to provide a rare OPPORTUNITY to talented professionals who happened to be impacted by the economy. It was up to Gene to show his very best and he failed miserably.

    Now that doesn’t mean that I think Gene should sit by and do nothing while being called inarticulate and illiterate-even by “The Donald”. He should have attempted to redeem himself by articulately defending his abilities while respectfully disagreeing with Trumps assessment of him. Instead, he sat silent the majority of the time and lashed out only at the end with the infamous invitation to be fired. My take away from this task: Learn how to recover & salvage your image regardless of the circumstances.

  • Alfred Edmond Jr.

    Nichole;

    Great observations as usual!

    I agree that Gene’s performance was indefensible. His crime was worse than being inarticulate (which I don’t believe for a second he is), but lack of preparedness to complete the emcee task. It’s quite possible that Trump intended to fire him no matter what was said in the boardroom. However, I believe that if Gene had pointed out his victory on Task 1, and the fact that he was a positive contributor on other tasks prior to this one, he had at least a 50/50 chance of survival (vs. Wade, who had NO chance). I believe Trump was impressed with Gene up to this point, and was surprised and disappointed to see him fail so miserably. But Trump may have given him another chance. Until Gene offered himself up for termination, Trump seemed more pissed at Wade for not pulling Gene off of the emcee assignment after the disastrous rehearsal, then he was at Gene for screwing up as emcee. Again, I believe that Gene was right to defend his performance (to a point), accept accountability and refuse to blame others; all of these things reflect well on him as a professional and a leader. And I think Trump, as disappointed as he was with Gene’s performance, respected that.

    On another note: What’s everyone’s take on Kelly and Liza?

    • Gene

      Alfred, I have refrained from commenting up until this very moment. Let me start off by saying with all due respect that Black Enterprise is a quality magazine and has been a valuable resource to me in my endeavor to thrive in the corporate landscape. This will make my following comments difficult, but what I deem to be quite necessary. First, et’s take a look at what I percieve to be TWO very problematic areas for me in your assessment of what you “saw” on this program. The FULL context of what I said to Donald Trump as I was being encouraged to make excuses was that “if you are looking for me to make excuses and not take responsiblity for not trusting MY instincts like several ceo’s such as BP, merrill Lynch, JP MOrgan Chase, I will not do that. We live in a culture that feels entitled to make excuses and I simply refuse to do that., so for that, if you want to fire me, then F*ing fire me. What you and the public is unaware of is that there were extenuating circumstances that led to my PM and the Executive Producer to apologize for creating task confusion and we were told we would NOT be allowed to bring that up in the boardroom. It was at that point that I became disgusted with the entire process and decided that NO JOB or that was worth my integrity. Mr. Trump was simply pissed, because he had been “challenged” as I was told I had done by one executive producer. My problem with your assessment is that I should have shut up? really? Isn’t that the problem with our culture today is because we all shut up? Should Rosa Parks have shut up? MLK? President Obama? The victims of Katrina? I refuse to SHUT UP and if that means that I lose an opportunity to work for someone who’s only comfortable with me being silent, than I’l make my own opportunities, Thank You very much. I would think as a journalist, you would see behind the curtain and as questions. NBC has essentially rendered me silent….I haven’t had ONE interview as have EVERY contestant that has been fired? My reward of meeting with Mr. Trump was NOT shown during the broadcast as has every other contrestants and my WIN wasn’t pure luck. Look for an interview from me as sanctioned by NBC abd ask yourself the question, If I am so inarticulate, why not showcase it. IF I wasn’t prepared, don’t you think I’d admit it? I’ll go you one better, I’d challenge ANYONE to put me at a podium and present, I will hold up the great tradition of being an outstanding orator. ANy questions, please feel free to contact me at genefolkes@gmail.com
      With all due respect to you..Gene

      • Alfred Edmond Jr.

        Gene;

        First of all, thanks for taking the time to respond to my performance review of Task 5 of The Apprentice, as well as for participating in the live chat with Kelly Beaty at BlackEnterprise.com earlier this month.

        I am the first to say that you EARNED your victory as PM on Task 1 (especially given the challenges presented by David Johnson, which you were the first to face); you did not win by luck. You’ve also made positive contributions on every subsequent task for Octane. In addition, as I’ve said in my earlier comments, I admire your refusal to make excuses and blame others and your insistence on being accountable for your performance. Also, despite your performance as emcee of the fashion show, I don’t think anyone really questions your speaking and communications skills; I certainly never have.

        However, I still believe it was a mistake to suggest to Trump that he fire you if he wants to. Until that statement, I thought your conduct in the boardroom was a great example of grace under fire, of toughness and self-discipline when the heat is on. Your refusal to make excuses did not mean you had to be fired.

        As for what I and all viewers of the show do not see (what ends up on the cutting room floor), I can’t take that into account in my evaluation of performance. I can only go by what I see and hear on the show, not by what I can’t see and hear, nor by hearsay after the fact from the candidates (or what they may have been told by an executive producer). Ironically, this is one aspect of The Apprentice that I believe is a true reflection of real life. Bosses who have to evaluate their employees rarely see every act and interaction of their staff from day to day, project to project, even among their direct reports. What they see counts, what they hear but don’t see counts less, and what’s neither heard or seen doesn’t count at all. For me, anything of The Apprentice that lands on the cutting room floor falls in the last category–it never happened.

        That said, my comments on your and all of the candidates performance is based on the premise that you really want the job, and that everything you do and say, including in the boardroom, is with the goal of becoming Trump’s apprentice. However, I totally respect that there are some things you or any other candidate would not do to land the job, whether you’d drawn that line going in or discovered it along the way. (Such was the case with Verna Felton, who made the decision to quit mid-task during The Apprentice 3, deciding it just wasn’t worth it to her). If you’d reached the point where you believed that your sense of integrity was being violated by the process of competing to become The Apprentice, then I certainly respect that decision.

        I hope that we get to talk soon and I look forward to learning of your current business and professional endeavors,

        Alfred

      • http://www.zaragreen.com Zara Green

        Gene, I think you should have left well enough, alone.

        Your rebuttal only supports your inability to receive criticism and while, not inarticulate – at all (I think you carry yourself very well and have style), reading your remarks (typo, subject/verb DISagreement and at one point I had to say, “huh?”) I am starting to understand why “writing” might not have been the task for you. Many people communicate well verbally but have trouble in other areas…that’s okay!

        As somebody below stated, I think you knew what a horrible job you’d done and it was easier to leave than to have to stay there and prove yourself, all the more. I think offering yourself up was the easiest thing for you. You said it; you wanted to go. But what a coward’s route!

        And to your question of admitting you were unprepared…”NO” I don’t think you would admit it, or you would have here. We saw that you were unprepared…there’s not enough editing in the world for you to have been THAT unprepared, so who’s making excuses now? And if things were happening behind the scene that Trump was aware of, it was all the more reason to SHUT UP and allow things to run the course. It would not have been “The Donald” to NOT rip you a new one for that performance, but if you’d not offered yourself up, you might have remained on. Offering yourself up was a sure slaughter.

        As for mentioning, Rosa Parks, MLK, Obama and whomever else as examples of those who didn’t “SHUT UP”…don’t even try it! There’s a time for everything and they chose to COURAGE UP and speak so that you could have opportunities like the one you were granted, hoping you’d have the character to SHUT UP with humility when you’ve missed it.

        That wasn’t a black/white thing. That was a Gene, you screwed up thing.

        So, Gene, instead of getting defensive …before you take the mic…COURAGE UP and really own that you missed it. And even if there were, as you say, “extenuating circumstances” for that, your performance WAS a disaster.

        I was pulling for you and until you offered yourself up still thought you had a chance of winning it. I respect your decision to leave, but not how you left.

        I’d respect you a lot more for just owning that as MC, you FUDGED UP, and at this point you need redeeming. Ownership, without excuses.

      • nhodge@spedient.com

        Gene,

        I believe you gave a response that was reflective of a bruised ego rather than a sound counter opinion to Alfred’s assessment. You are clearly reacting emotionally (much like in the boardroom) and a small part of me understands why. I have been among the more vocal in sharing my thoughts about your performance and I know that’s not easy to hear. But Gene, you had an opportunity (and still may have) to bounce back from a humiliating performance and prove yourself to be the professional that you have claimed to be. Instead, you respond with an emotionally charged, highly defensive post that did far more to discredit you than even your performance on last week’s show.

        You start off your comments by suggesting that you weren’t even going to comment and I have to say, in my mind’s eye, I pictured you pouting in the corner, looking sideways at the computer, until you just couldn’t take the criticism anymore and just had to jump on & reply… And then you end your comments with an even more ridiculous, “Im the King of all orators! I dare you… I dare you…put me on a podium!” claim. Now, I realize that I didn’t quote you verbatim, but you get the picture.

        If you were Nichole sitting in front of her television watching Gene’s performance last week, you would have given the same assessment. We don’t have the luxury of having all the details by which to draw a conclusion-and you know that. Alfred made an excellent point when he drew a parallel between the show and what an employer sees as the end result. Just like the viewers who watch the show, a “real life” employer doesn’t care that the customer didn’t sign the order, or the dog ate the P.O., or whatever. All that matters is the bottom line. The end result. But again-you know that.

        I have no doubt that “extenuating circumstances” transpired. But don’t they always? Isn’t there “task confusion” in the real world too Gene? I wouldn’t want to be known as the candidate that buckled under “task confusion” and needed apologies from the PM and executive producer. If all these “secret keep-Gene-from-being-successful” things were going on, then why were your teammates equally horrified by your performance…DURING the actual performance? Is that some real-time editing that we don’t know about?
        About the “Shut up” issue. I personally think that you could have (and should have) defended yourself without making excuses and without inviting Trump to fire you. As I stated before, you should have aknowledged your shortcomings on this task while defending your abilities overall. Oh and between you and me, I don’t buy for a minute that you were so fed up w/the lack of integrity that you decided to quit. With the exception of something criminal or unethical, most of us wouldn’t have companies or careers if we decided to exit stage left everytime we encountered the absence of integrity. Dont make me laugh.

        So finally Gene, just know that I for one am not questioning your overall talent. My criticism was based totally on my major disappointment with your performance. And if there was not an existing high expectation, there could be no disappointment. Gene redemption is a wonderful thing but YOU are responsible for redeeming YOU. Excuses and defensiveness just solidify the opinions about you. Hope you chime in. Be well.

        • http://www.spedient.com Nichole Hodge

          The above posting from me didn’t show my name, only my email address.

  • http://www.spedient.com Nichole Hodge

    Alfred you make a very strong point when you wrote, “Trump seemed more pissed at Wade for not pulling Gene off of the emcee assignment after the disastrous rehearsal, then he was at Gene for screwing up as emcee.” In fact, the inside info that we received from Kelly stating that Trump reached out to Gene afterward seems to support that.

    So my take on Kelly & Liza: I absolutely can’t wait to see Liza PM a task! She’ll have a lot to overcome as I don’t think that she has the respect of her teammates. I don’t know if she’s on Stephanie’s radar anymore but I doubt that they all have changed their view of her. Her non-strategic, shoot-from-the hip style seems to have even caused her to get on the bad side of Kelly (more inside info from the chat!). After trying to throw her under the bus with the leg scarring issue, I’m not sure who she has as an ally. Right now she’s not looking to promising but hopefully she’ll prove me wrong as PM.
    I’m glad Kelly is getting more time to showcase her skills. In my opinion, she was at least 75% responsible for the major win last week and had they lost, I guarantee she would have been given 100% of the blame. Kelly will have to prove that she can successfully lead a task that relies less on her creative skills, which are clearly stong, and more on her leadership skills & business acumen.

  • Sharon Jackson

    Not to belabor the point about Gene’s performance, but I see it from a different angle. Gene knew he failed and failed miserably while also disappointing Mr. Trump in the process. Gene fell on his sword seeing this as his way out and to save face. I do not think in that moment Gene thought he could recover from such an embarrassing defeat. His performance was cringe worthy. When you want out of a situation, the last thing you will do is fight to stay – even if fighting means shutting up. Gene gave Mr. Trump an out by suggesting Mr. Trump could fire him if needed, which was Gene’s way of exiting the process altogether.

    I was glad to see Kelly really step up! I was impressed especially after accusing her of possibly being just a follower in last week’s assessment (sorry Kelly). The devil is in the details and she covered the details extraordinary. What could she have done with more time?
    When Liza threw Tyana under the bus joining boardroom forces with Mahsa to save her own skin in Week 4, I lost all respect for her. This week, I saw Liza looking for that “gotcha” moment that she could use in the boardroom. Case in point: I do not recall Liza saying anything to Kelly about the model with the scratched up legs when preparing for the fashion show. Even Kelly said in the boardroom to Mr. Trump had Liza told her about that model’s legs, she would have replaced him because the scratched up legs went unnoticed to Kelly. Mr. Trump even commented to Kelly how could the model’s legs go unnoticed to her. Liza is busy trying to survive yet not by her own impressive performance. I look forward to Liza proving me wrong, though I doubt it.

  • Calvin J. Adolph

    Let me first say to Nichole that you scare me. I am in total awe that we share so many of the same thoughts concerning this show. That being said, keep being you! I just saw the Task 5 episode because The Apprentice is so pathetic. As stated in previous comments I have no sympathy whatsoever for any of the contestants. When I look at Stueart and Anand, I picture them as college frat boys who are capable of committing some type of sexual assault or harrassment (why are they never reprimanded? it’s pretty obvious that they would jump on anything that moves). As far as my take on both Kelly and Liza? I believe that Liza is one of the dead men walking because she has shown time and time again that she is willing to throw anybody under the bus. I believe that she is shooting to become the next Omarosa. Kelly was impressive during this task, and I believe her exposure on this episode was a direct favor to her being a former intern of Black Enterprise. I don’t think that her creative success will translate into a PM win if given the opportunity. I believe she has twice downplayed her mistakes on previous tasks and will never assume responsibility to them. That being said, let me finally start in on Gene. I don’t know if I think that the real Gene gave a reply on here (at least I hope he didn’t). Gene survived this long on The Apprentice because he is a relic of employees past. He represented the kind of person we read about in our textbooks. He is not comfortable or able to adapt to the latest needs of 21st century employers. I will watch The Apprentice (on Hulu) until both Kelly and Liza take each other out (it will happen and remember who told it to you first). The Apprentice has not been relevant for some time now.

  • KOAB

    Gene has a lot of potential. In despite of the criticism, Trump made on the Gene performance in Task 5 – initially, it did not appear Trump was going to fire Gene. Watch the show again, he initially had it in for Wade, if Gene was reserved not to speak, he would not have been fired. Also, since Kelly and Liza are African American, they should have tried to work together and move past snappy comments about each other. Looking forward and now talking about business settings, were AA are underrepresented. why battle each other. The world is too small for such bickering. Underrepresented AA in business face similar challenges, why pull each other down, when they can be a united force. The sum, is always greater than the parts.

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