Between tasks, the contestants had a little time to relax in the suite we shared during the taping of the show and get to know each other. It was like a big slumber party at times. But we were all mindful of the fact that we were still adversaries: anything you say can and will be used against you in the boardroom. Also, the cameras were always on us, even while we were sleeping. At first it was a bit unnerving, and I played it a little safe; I wasn’t going to let my hair down with all of America watching. I just focused on meeting deadlines, and eventually I got comfortable with the cameras. In fact, when I got home, I had to remind myself there were no cameras anymore–I could do whatever I wanted.
We all reconvened for the final (live) episode in December. Mr. Trump hired me, but then asked whether I thought the other finalist should be a cowinner. That question had never been posed to a previous winner, so I suspect Mr. Trump was going for the water-cooler effect. But he picked the wrong person to try it on. The proposition of a tie was, to me, unacceptable. If our performances had warranted a tie, I’d certainly have been willing to consider it. And if he wanted to hire the other finalist the next day, he could. But as I told him on the air, the show is called “The Apprentice,” and I believe that I earned it. He agreed. As his apprentice, I’m now managing renovations of three properties in Atlantic City, overseeing an IT project, and helping with community relations for a development project in Philadelphia.
Mr. Trump is not that different as a real-world boss from the way he is on the show. He’s tough when he has to be tough, but he’s also got a witty side. It’s been fascinating to be at the table where million-dollar decisions are being made, and to see how particular he is about how he allocates his time. Watching him in action is a good lesson in how to set priorities and be realistic about what you can’t get done. If you’re not happy in life, you have nobody to blame but yourself.