Stacie J, Beyond Apprentice

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Stacie Jones (a.k.a. Stacie J) seldom watches television so she never even considered the possibility of auditioning for a reality show. One night, while bored, she watched one episode of The Apprentice while in Miami on a modeling assignment. The show sparked her interest especially when she realized it was taped in New York. Having always admired Donald Trump, for the first time she considered the prospect of auditioning for a reality show; especially since it offered the opportunity to work with Trump, whom Stacie considered to be a business mastermind and genius. Little did she know that her joy at winning a spot on the show would change by the third episode as would her starry-eyed opinion of Donald Trump.

Stacie J has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. At 16 years old, she sold rock candy with her sister Michelle while living in Colorado where she grew up, although she was born in Omaha, Nebraska. Stacie attended Emory College in Atlanta and holds an MBA in marketing. At age 20, the enterprising student established a telemarketing company and ended up employing 17 staff members. After graduation, she opened a jazz club and restaurant called Jazzmin’s, located in downtown Atlanta.  Eventually she sold the restaurant to the Shark Bar in Atlanta.

Stacie, who believes in diversification, also started a modeling career after having been chosen as one of two people to model for Elite NY. She modeled in Miami, Europe and Africa, eventually returning to Atlanta to finish her education and pursue her interest in business. Currently juggling a modeling, acting and business career, Ms. Jones is with Ford Model Management in New York. She also works with Model Management (Miami, Los Angeles, Chicago and Atlanta). She has posed for campaigns such as Revlon, Clairol, Avon, and others, and performed catalog work for department stores such as Lord & Taylor, Macy’s, J.C. Penney, Sears and K-Mart. She has appeared in magazines the likes of Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Essence, Redbook and Marie Claire. The budding actress has also appeared on “As the World Turns;â€? “Guiding Light,â€? “The Dave Chappelle Showâ€? and in a short film entitled, “Who is Cinderella.â€?  She was involved in the Def Jam Production of “This is How We Do Itâ€? and she continues to secure both acting and modeling work.

Pursuing her love for business, Stacie took advantage of what she learned while operating her restaurant in Atlanta and decided to open a Subway Sandwich franchise in Harlem. So, is it any wonder when the young business dynamo saw the opportunity to audition for The Apprentice show she jumped at the chance. “I had a lot of respect for Donald Trump and viewed him as someone at the top of his game. Also, I am very interested in the real estate business," she says, in the interview. "I looked up NBC on the Internet and saw the application for The Apprentice show was due in three days. I figured if I got the opportunity to work for Donald Trump that would be wonderful and if nothing else, I could put myself on The Donald’s rolodex in terms of his network of people.  I thought who better to have as a mentor in the real estate business than Donald Trump. As an African American, I feel that I have only had one serious mentor. You know, Black people are only a couple of generations out of college. It’s always been hard for me to find someone who would say 'Let me take you under my wing and teach you how to go to the next level.' Although, I have achieved a lot in my life, it has been primarily as a result of book smarts, my intuition and hustle. My ultimate goal is to build my empire."

Stacie’s stint on The Apprentice was short lived. “From the first meeting of my Apprentice peers, I found the men to be nice and the women rather catty. The living situation with the women was difficult because they were into that girly sorority behavior. I have never been into that. So, while I was off in my room doing business they were conspiring. It was clear that I wasn’t someone that would fit into their inner circle. Already, by the second time in the boardroom, I saw the women were out to get me, especially the Asian girl Ivanna, who actually saw herself as white. She was very crafty and knew how to manipulate the weaker ones. And like life, the weak ones always ban together to get rid of the stronger one. I guess I didn’t really take them seriously and thought Mr. Trump would see right through them. There was no way I thought I was going to get fired� claimed the young business exec. However, during her third trip into the boardroom, Trump bought the ‘crazy’ hype that had been perpetrated against Stacie and fired her."

Stacie adds:  “I had put Mr. Trump up on a pedestal but I found through my firing, that Mr. Trump has flaws just like the rest of us humans. I lost a lot of respect for Mr. Trump as a result. I felt my firing was not based on merit but rather complete slander and defamation of character. Like most African Americans, I have worked extremely hard for every single thing I have. Having entered the show at one level hoping to rise to another only to end up at an even lower ebb, was disappointing. What happened to me on The Apprentice, no person should have to endure. People who wonder whether reality shows are contrived can rest assured that everything that happens on these reality shows does happen. While the producers may not be telling contestants what to say, manipulation is certainly part of the game. This is how they script the reality show,â€? explained the former Apprentice star. “All of a sudden they take you off to the side and ask you questions. For example, in my case, everyone was playing with the 8-ball. Unexpectedly, the producers started asking me: 'What’s up with the 8-ball?' They asked whether I was nervous that the team members didn’t like that I played with the 8 ball.  And, they mentioned to me that I was getting excited. I was amazed and started wondering 'What are they talking about! The 8 ball was nothing! It was stupid. Everyone was playing with the 8-ball. Yet, that issue kept being pressed. I wondered why they were even talking to me about such a trite matter. Now, that I look back at it, I see they were coaching a storyline along and were trying to invent character. So to anyone doing a reality show, especially an African American, I warn you to be very, very careful because they can take your personality and switch you around 360 degrees," cautions Stacie.

“When you go on these shows, you are put through a hard core audition process; mental tests, IQ tests, therapist tests, emotional tests, background checks…everything. I beat out a million applicants.  What ended up happening to me as a result of that whole 8-ball thing was I got the stigma of being crazy. And, that is absolutely not true! That is why I say its slander and defamation of character. All these lies were being told. I can guarantee had they had any footage of me lying they would have aired it. People like Ivanna, the Asian woman, lied consistently on camera. If you compare her to Omarosa, she lied way more than Omarosa. But because race is deep in America, and because of the color of her skin, people aren’t even saying 'Ivanna is far worse than Omarosa' continued," The Apprentice ingénue.  “I think where Omarosa messed up and lost support was the situation with Kwame. She should have rethought that one. Omarosa got a lot of people upset with her so she ended up coming out with a negative. I think in my case, I came out with sympathy. I think people actually liked me. However, my being smeared by the women as being crazy has labeled me. Can you imagine how that feels to be slandered like that in front of the entire nation with people continually wondering about my sanity? Although the intent may be to make The Apprentice a #1 show they are doing it at anyone’s expense and I guess I was a product of that. Although, Trump, did apology to me on the 9th show,â€? recalls Stacie.

Though Stacie J feels she was slandered and definitely experienced some negative repercussions as a result of the show, she does acknowledge the positive side. “I wasn’t known all over the United States prior to going on the show. I didn’t have the endorsements that I now have before the show.  I didn’t have the exposure. I now have more of an opportunity to build on my recognition. Media is powerful in that way. I could allow myself to be defeated because of what happened to me or I could make the best of this opportunity.  I plan to make the best of it. I may even do a book down the road.  However, since the show I have won 3 endorsements. I am shooting two pilots right now. I have a few show ideas and I plan to use my business opportunities to build my empire." 

“Right now, I am going to seize all the opportunities available to me," she concludes. "Life is good. I am learning that when you have a lot of choices, make sure to make the right ones. I am living and I am learning. I am learning to have a couple of good friends, have a couple of good enemies, keep my enemies close and my friends closer. I am learning to have fun in life, work hard and always stay close to God."

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