Randal Pinkett

Randal Pinkett

In 2005, Randal Pinkett SM ’98, MBA ’98, PhD ’02 won season four of The Apprentice. So how has his life changed as a result? And what was it like working for Donald Trump for a year? Read on to find out.

Love it or hate it, reality TV has become a new way to gain notoriety, both positive and negative, in America. For Pinkett, the gamble to appear before millions of viewers as he vied for a six-figure, one-year contract working for Donald Trump paid off, partly because he clearly defined what he hoped to gain from the experience. “I wanted to build a platform for my speaking and writing and build my company,” he says. Four years later, he still needs the business affairs manager, PR professionals, book agent, and speaker’s bureau he initially hired to handle the opportunities presented to him.

He’s attracted more private-sector clients to the Newark, New Jersey-based management, technology, and policy consultancy, BCT Partners, he cofounded and leads; published books; appeared as a correspondent for PBS’ CEO Exchange show; and serves as a national spokesperson for numerous causes, including Autism Speaks, a nonprofit he worked with during the show’s final episode; the National Visionary Leadership Project, founded by Dr. Camille Cosby (wife of comedian Bill Cosby); and the United Negro College Fund, for which he’s headlining the Empower Me tour.

Randal Pinkett at a speaking engagement

Pinkett maintains a busy schedule of speaking engagements for a variety of causes and events.

These days, he spends 80 percent of his time drumming up business for BCT Partners and 20 percent on his personal brand, a split he’s perfectly happy with. “I try to manage my speaking engagements and appearances,” he says. “At the end of the day, I’m a full-time entrepreneur.” Learn more about Pinkett.

On the big decision
If you watched The Apprentice finale, you know that at the end, Trump offered the job to Pinkett then asked him if he should also hire Rebecca, the runner-up. “There is one and only one apprentice, and if you’re going to hire someone tonight, it should be one,” Pinkett said. “It’s not The Apprenti [sic], it’s The Apprentice.”

The decision earned him some critics, an admittedly difficult experience for Pinkett. “I had to do a lot of soul searching [after the show]. It boils down to, do you want to be principled or popular?” he says. “I believe I found a certain grounding and strength in my faith to believe in who I am and what I stand for.” And in the end, he knows he made the right decision. “I would regret it to this day if I had caved in to that,” Pinkett says. “It was an insult for him to ask the question”—one Trump hadn’t asked before and hasn’t since, he points out. “It was a clear victory, and I earned it.” (more…)