‘Apprentice’ winner advises students on entrepreneurship, getting rich

By Mike Devine

Students received first-hand assurance Thursday that Donald Trump’s hair is real, in addition to tips on entrepreneurship.

Dr. Randal Pinkett, who is best known for being hired by Donald Trump on the fourth season of NBC’s The Apprentice, spoke to students and faculty Thursday about his experiences with entrepreneurship and gave advice to those considering starting their own businesses. Pinkett is also the author of “Campus CEO: Student Entrepreneur’s Guide to Launching a Multi-Million-Dollar Business.”

“The ability to see opportunities others do not and seizing these opportunities is what sets entrepreneurs apart from everyone else,” said Pinkett, who has five degrees including a Ph.D. from MIT and is a Rhodes Scholar.

He said four factors help college students become successful entrepreneurs: expansion of courses offered at colleges; current students are offspring of a generation that faced major layoffs and job insecurities; students are proficient in technology; and many companies, especially online ones like YouTube and Facebook, are being created by college students.

He said his interest in business began as a kid when he ran a lemonade stand that failed because it was located on the side of the highway.

Pinkett’s first successful entrepreneurship experience began the summer before his senior year at Rutgers University in New Jersey, when he and his friends started an “underground” record store in their dorm, since there were none near campus.

“It was my first experience running a business, and I loved it,” he said.

The record store business eventually morphed into BCT Partners, a multi-million dollar business Pinkett still owns.

Although he had little interest in applying to be on The Apprentice, Pinkett said his wife pushed him. He was selected to go through a series of pre-show rounds of interviews and evaluations before he was chosen as one of 18 contestants on the show’s fourth season.

In addition to giving speaking engagements and running his own company, Pinkett remains involved in Trump’s organization as a faculty member at Trump University, an online non-accredited university.

Working with Trump for a year after winning The Apprentice was positive for Pinkett, especially in learning to overcome failure.

“And yes, [Trump’s] hair is real,” he joked.

Students said they were impressed with Pinkett’s presentation.

“I thought the most important advice he gave was to be dedicated to your dreams, and to not let anything get in your way,” said William Gamble, a senior political science major.

Junior political science major Amanda Moninghoff was also glad Pinkett spoke.

“Since my dad owns his own business and I’m interested in becoming an entrepreneur, I’m always trying to hear advice from those who have succeeded,” she said.

Pinkett spoke as part of the “Meet the Author” series co-sponsored by NU Libraries and the NU Bookstore.

“We thought Randal would be a great author to have for the series because there are many business students and entrepreneurs at Northeastern, and they are his target audience,” said Maria Carpenter, library advancement and communications officer .

Leave a Reply