Excellent Apprentice

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On Thursday, December 15, NBC aired the final episode of Donald Trump’s The Apprentice live from Lincoln Center in New York City. In the interest of time and space, I won’t give you the blow-by-blow details of the finale except to say that the decision came down to two extremely talented candidates, Rebecca and Randal.

Randal took the prize - the opportunity to work for a year in the Trump organization - but not without a sucker punch from the Donald who had the unmitigated gall to ask the winner if he, Trump, should hire the other semi-finalist as well.

In the interest of full disclosure, as folks like to say these days, I must admit that I have not been following the show. I am not a fan of so-called reality TV shows, but I took an interest in this finale because Randal is a brother from my home state of New Jersey and runs a business—BCT Partners—in my hometown of Newark.

First of all, well into the program, I knew something shady was about to go down. Trump was hemming and hawing and sounding really indecisive throughout the infamous boardroom session, even mentioning that he had two stars on his hands. Well, no doubt, every finale comes down to two stars if the competition is worth its salt. What was so putrid about this episode is that never before in the history of the series has the winning candidate been asked to share his prize with his opponent. My question is, why now?

Randal holds five degrees from a B.S. from Rutgers University to a Ph.D. from Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He’s also a Rhodes Scholar for whatever that’s worth. Rebecca is a financial journalist from Chicago who, according to the NBC website, was named “One of 20 Teens Who Will Change the World� by Teen People magazine in 2000. As a youngster, she formed a non-profit organization that raised $750,000 to benefit underprivileged youth. Both are undoubtedly talented individuals but, as far as I could determine by last night’s finale, Rebecca could not hold a candle to Randal’s business acumen, educational background, as well as his performance on the series. Now let me get down to what I really want to talk about and that is how brothers are given a hard time no matter what their achievements. If you didn’t believe what your parents told you about having to work harder than your white peers to achieve the same recognition, believe it now because it is oh so true. If any of those other excellent Apprentice candidates walked into that boardroom with the credentials that Randal has as well as his record of achievement on the show, there would have been no question who the clear winner was—the clear winner and only winner.

Let me give you another recent example of how brothers are unfairly perceived and mistreated and how the media help to promote the disparities between them and their white counterparts. Earlier that same week, Today show co-anchor Katie Couric was chit chatting with her colleagues, Matt Lauer, Al Roker and Anne Curry, about the passing of the legendary comedian, Richard Pryor. Lauer praised Pryor for the legacy he left in not only the comedy world, but the entertainment world in general. Couric mentioned more than once that Pryor was no role model. Now, true enough, without enumerating his many faults, Richard Pryor did not lead a pristine existence and I’m sure he was the first to admit it, but neither did Elvis Presley, for example, who ended up dead on his bathroom floor from an apparent drug overdose but he still got a postage stamp.

The very next day, it was reported on the Today show and every other network news program that Lehigh University sophomore Greg Hogan, the son of a Baptist minister, robbed a bank in Pennsylvania. The kid was obviously from a well-to-do family having attended a prep school in Ohio that reportedly cost $19,000 a year. Suffice it to say that his folks were not poor, but he allegedly robbed the bank to settle some gambling debts. Why he chose to rob a bank instead of going to his daddy for the $5,000 is any body’s guess. Couric’s response was classic. She said she felt sorry for Hogan because “obviously� to use her word, he was desperate. Now, Couric, let me ask you, if Randal had robbed that bank would you have thought him desperate or a felon—as in desperate felon?

But I digress. From my observation of  the Apprentice finale—and I admittedly was flipping channels—Randal won that competition hands down and he, nor any past or future candidate who goes through 13 weeks of rigorous business exercises, not to mention all that time away from family and friends, should not have to share the coveted prize with anyone. Randal, I like how you handled yourself. You said, “It’s not The Apprenti, it’s The Apprenticeâ€? and you’re it, my man. Congratulations!

Black Star News columnist Bateman is the CEO of Bateman & Associates also found at www.celestebateman.com

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