Summer 2004
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TCU Magazine "Purpectives"


Fresh off hearing those two little words ("You're Fired!") on spring's reality TV hit "The Apprentice," Amy Henry '97 (MBA) has been flooded with newfound fame and job opportunities. Whatever she decides, one thing she knows for sure -- she is ...

Holding the Trump Card

You have been swamped with job offers and media interviews since the show ended. Tell us what you've been doing.

Well, I have been hopping back and forth between New York and L.A. doing public appearances and talking about the show. I have been writing a women's business book which will be out in September and I've also been working with CNBC doing business commentaries. Additionally, I've also been taking meetings with people who are interested in hiring me for new business opportunities from regular desk jobs to TV show hosting opportunities. It's run the gamut from back-to-business to entertainment.

How has the show changed your life?

I can't walk down the street these days without people shouting my name. It's really funny. People come up to me and hug me like I'm their best friend. But it also has opened up many fantastic opportunities that I would not have had otherwise. I am able to get into doors and talk to people that never would have seen me in the past. The show took off far more than I ever expected, and the beauty of it is that it is not "The Bachelor" or "The Bachelorette." But it actually gave each contestant the ability to demonstrate legitimate business skills. Even though Donald Trump terminated me on national television, a lot of people across the country looked at this show as an interview. I think the character that I displayed on the show was somebody who is a hard worker and a good team player. I get job offers on a daily basis via e-mail from across the country from all types of businesses.

How many job offers have you had since the show ended?

Not all have been offers, but people expressing interest. It's in the hundreds. I get hundreds of e-mails every day, and half of those are people saying, "Hey I'm starting this company and I think you'd be a good fit," or "I have a business plan -- would you take a look at it? I'd love for you to start this with me." I've even gotten ones saying, "I have a well-established Fortune 500 company and we're looking for someone with your skill set." So it's all kinds of situations. I've read for different hosting positions for business news shows and daytime shows. There's no one industry. It's all across the board. I think people look at the show and the candidates on the show and they see the raw talent. They see that the personality, the energy and dedication that we exhibited on the show can translate into just about any industry.

So job-wise what are you going to do?

You know, I have been so busy I haven't had a chance to sit down and evaluate all of them, but I plan to do that soon. My plan for the next six months is to promote my book and continue speaking at business seminars.

Do you feel you are a celebrity now? And if so, do you enjoy it or is it a hassle?

Being on a show that was watched by 30 million people, you are thrown into this instant celebrity status. But I look at it as being a fantastic experience because I know now what it's like being in the public eye. It's a double-edged sword. Anyone on reality TV goes there because they think, "Oh it will be fun to be on television." So you briefly get to experience the life of being in the public eye, but the beauty of it is that it only lasts for a short period of time and you can go back to your normal life.

Why did you apply for the show in the first place?

I was working in a job I was not so passionate about, and I didn't necessarily know where I was to head next. And I really think it was fate. I just happened to be in Dallas visiting my family and one of the producers recruited me. I thought, "Oh what a perfect fit." It was perfect for me because of the timing and it was related to the business world. And I didn't think there were many people out there that the job would be a better fit for than me. I'm a tough businesswoman but I've got a little sassiness. At the end of the day, they're looking for people who make good TV. Every single person on the show had a legitimate resume. After the resume, the next thing they were looking for is a unique personality that will make good TV.

Do you think the show honed your business skills or was it just a bunch of stunts?

There were no stunts on the shows. They showed a lot of our good ideas, but they didn't show all of them. People ask me if it was edited well. I think overall they portrayed me very well, but there were a lot of ideas I contributed that weren't shown for the purpose of creating a story. But yes I think it showed our business acumen. It also showed humanness to everyone's character, which is what made it such a great hit. Everyone in America can relate to some of what we went through. Everyone in America knows what it's like to have a job, or get promoted, or try to win a job or keep from getting fired. Everybody has had to work with people they don't like and yet figure out how to work with them to accomplish a goal. It's very real. This was more real than any other reality show. "Survivor" is interesting but not many of us live off bugs and water for six weeks. "The Bachelorette" is entertaining but I don't anybody who is dating 25 people at the same time. This show was very real.

Did the show have lessons for the business world or was it purely entertainment?

The entertainment was the dysfunction of 16 people living together, working together and competing against each other for the same position. But every single episode, I think, had something to be learned and taken into the business world, whether it's how to deal with people, how to negotiate, thinking outside the box, being a risk-taker.

Small business owner Bill Rancic of Chicago won. Do you think he was the best candidate for the job?

Between the final two, yes.

But you would have like to have won, right?

I'm so happy that Bill won, and I think he was definitely qualified. But I think there were a lot of other people who could have done the job. There were some people who got terminated earlier that may have been equally qualified. Don't get me wrong. I am Bill's biggest fan. He's the only candidate on the show that I would enjoy working for. But that said, he was a CEO coming into the show. I look at the apprentice role almost like an internship, in which you look for someone with raw talent that you can mold and create. Is he that person? I don't think so. You didn't see this on the show because they edited it out. But in the episode when I was fired, I told Mr. Trump in the boardroom that Bill was overqualified for the job. If you're looking for a true apprentice that you can mold and groom, he wasn't the right person. Consider the job itself. If you take away the title of CEO and the salary, basically what you have is an internship. That is not a good fit for Bill Rancic. He's been there, done that. If that's what Mr. Trump wanted -- someone like Bill who's been there, done that -- then they should have had 15 other candidates that currently serve in a CEO capacity competing against each other. The experience levels of the candidates varied drastically.

How disappointed are you that you didn't get the job? Or was the experience of it enough?

The experience was such a reward. I consider the show an accelerated MBA program. There truly are a lot of valuable things I learned while I was there, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. It was a blessing in disguise that I didn't get the job. I still have the ability go back to work for Mr. Trump if I want to. I was on every single episode, and I have so many other opportunities that may be a better fit for me than that one. To me it's a win-win.

What was the most difficult task?

Planet Hollywood and running the casino event. Both were extremely long and it required us to be on our feet all day. They also involved a mass amount of people. Also, luck played into those tasks more than the others. With Planet Hollywood, it was a matter of what night you ran the club. We had Friday night. The guys had Thursday night. We had the advantage. We had the bigger crowd. With the casino task, you don't know if there are going to be big winners or big losers that night.

What was the best reward?

Flying to Mira Lago. Not because of getting on the plane and flying there. I fly all the time for work. It was having my sister with me. We were living in such an insane situation and such an insane lifestyle. We had hundreds of production staff and 20 cameramen and helicopters following us. It was great to have a family member experience that with me.

What did you learn about yourself having gone through the show?

I always consider myself a good team player, but I didn't know that other people really consider me one as well. Not only a team player but also a strong contributor and as a respected businesswoman. I've always thought that I do a good job, but sometimes in the hustle and bustle of the real world, your boss doesn't have time to recognize your performance. It was nice to have my peers show me that. Every single time there was a shakeup of the team, I was drafted. That was really flattering to know I was highly respected by my competitors.

In the middle of the show when you kept getting picked to strengthen the losing team, did you think you were the favorite to win the job?

No. Actually, the second time I was drafted, I knew there was no way I was going to win. Yes it is a job interview, but also is a show about what makes good TV. When in the history of reality TV have you seen the favored contestant win? Never. Why? Because they want to create some twists. I was enjoying winning and getting to enjoy all the prizes. But in the end, I knew it winning 10 in a row would be my ultimate downfall.

Who was the most impressive contestant?


What's the most annoying thing Omarosa did?

The most annoying thing was the fight on the plane [between Omarosa and Ereka when the former accused the latter of uttering a racial slur]. The most annoying thing to me personally? I addressed the fact that she was causing a lot of conflict on our team. I was project manager of our team for the second task, and she laughed in my face and said, "I know you're really worried about me, but should really be worried about you." My reaction was to not say anything, but to just get up and walk away. Why would you ever fight back with her? Her goal was to get me upset and angry, and if I let her, then she wins.

Was Omarosa unfairly portrayed as a "villain"?

No. She was portrayed very accurately.

Was too much made of your relationship with Nick?

Yeah. It was show-mance. Innocent flirtation on the show. They were searching for storylines there. It was a case of what makes good reality TV. We actually did go out a few times after the show was over, but that was the extent of it.

What's the status with Nick now?

We're real good friends, but that's all. No romances.

One of Trump's advisers, Carolyn, warned that the women contestants were close to crossing the line in using their sex appeal in some of the competitions. Was that a fair assessment?

I disagree with it. The show cast eight women who are thin and relatively attractive. And then the show's producers look for ways to create storylines that show off these women contestants. Was some of the behavior appropriate for the office? No. But we weren't in a traditional office. We were at casinos and restaurants and bars on some of those tasks. On the tasks that were corporate environments, we responded appropriately.

At the end of the series after a series of interviews with Trump's CEOs, one of them referred to you as a "Stepford Wife." What's your reaction to that?

I didn't know what a Stepford Wife was. It's funny. People have asked me if there is anything that I would do different going into the interview and the only thing I would say is to prepare more. I didn't know whom I was interviewing with, what they did in the company or what the job was I interviewing for. These are situations that make it a little bit unrealistic. Usually, you would know these things and you can prepare better for an interview. None of us got to do that. My downfall was when I interview I act myself, which is energetic and vivacious. I think that's why I was drafted to go to other teams. I think it was the things that make me me are the things they couldn't identify with. They are very conservative. In the end, it wasn't something they felt aligned with my personality. In the real world, I am interviewing them as much as they interviewing me. And in this case, my background, my personality, my skill set was not such a good fit.

What's something about Donald Trump that might surprise me?

Well, one fact, he called me five minutes ago and offered me a job again and to make sure I am en route to New York. Another fact, he hasn't consumed an ounce of alcohol in his life. Doesn't drink and doesn't smoke.

So what job did he offer you?

It's in sales. Real estate sales. He has a couple of properties in New York, you know.

So are you going to take it?

Oh, I don't know. I am working on my book and have a lot speaking engagements I am doing at universities around the country and for conferences in women in business. And right now I am just going to enjoy that. When things die down, I may take him up on the offer.

Have you been surprised at the show's popularity, or did you know at the time it was going to be such a big hit?

It's been a surprise, but a pleasant one. If you choose to be on a reality show, which better one to be on than one that shows your business acumen to everyone in America? This reality show reaches CEOs that never watch television. We have professors at the top business schools across the country that followed the show religiously because there are true business lessons and value that can be learned. Not only was on a television show, but in essence, I was applying for jobs across the country.

Was there anything about the way you were portrayed or the way the show was edited that bothered you?

No. Not at all. Of course there are things I said I wish I hadn't. But at the end of the day it shows you're human. I think they portrayed me as pretty Southern -- you know sugar and spice and everything nice -- almost a little too nice and quiet in the beginning. The portrayed many of the good ideas I came up with, but not all of them. I have watched over the last few months and said, "Hey, you didn't show this good thing that I did!" But then they also omitted some of my more stupid moments, which I'm thankful for. When you sign up for reality TV, you have to know that they're going to edit as they deem appropriate.

What advice would you give the candidates for the next "Apprentice" show?

Be themselves. Don't over-strategize. And don't wear short skirts in the boardroom.

Uh-oh. Did Trump say something about that?

No. I just don't think it's a good way to earn points with Carolyn. She got on a couple of the women.

And yet you did decide to do a photo shoot in your underwear with FHM magazine. What made you decide to do that?

It was our first publication and we were all excited about it. And I made a bad decision. But that being said, I think the pictures were tasteful, and I don't think it undermines my credibility as a businesswoman. Anyone who meets me knows that I am capable, and I don't think there is anything that says successful businesswomen can't be sexy, too.

So do you regret it?

Yeah I do. But again not because it undermines my credibility, but primarily for the fact that we women on the show have the ability to be role models for young women who are watching the show. The reason that I regret it is that I don't want young women who are getting ready to go to college or considering a career in business to think that they can't be successful if they're not a thin size 4 that looks like an all-made-up Victoria's Secret model. That's the only reason. I'm not embarrassed by the pictures. I think they're nice. I have received a lot of fan mail from young women, and I want them to know that they don't have to bare all to be a successful businesswoman.

What do you remember about your days at TCU?

I spent a lot of time in the Center for Professional Communication. I remember enjoying helping undergraduate students with their presentations and written assignments. It was a good learning experience for me, too. It helped me with my communication skills. I think that my MBA at TCU was not really about textbook education so much as it was learning communication skills, interpersonal skills and teamwork skills. Those things are the most critical in the real business world and in the competition on "The Apprentice." I think the reason I fared so well was less to do with that textbook education and more about the interpersonal skills I developed doing the projects while getting my MBA at TCU. I have described the show as an accelerated MBA program because it is all about taking on challenges that have tight deadlines and high-pressure stakes. And you do them all with teammates you may or may not enjoy working with, and yet you still have to accomplish the task. Every challenge on "The Apprentice" was like that, and every task I had while getting my MBA was like that, too.

So TCU prepared you well for the business world and this show?

Yes, but less through the textbook. That program is exceptional because of the project work that requires teamwork skills. I was also a part of the Educational Investment Fund, which involved working with people, evaluating stocks, making recommendations and preparing reports. Those are all relevant for real-world business. It's not all understanding how to create a balance sheet.

To follow Amy's comings and goings or her new book, What It Takes: Speak Up Step Up Move Up...A Modern Woman's Guide to Success in Business, check out her web site: