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November 10, 2004
From Entrepreneur to Apprentice: Rancic Reflects on HR, Compensation

Bill Rancic says he had "probably one of the most elaborate interviews in the annals of human resources," when he beat out the competition on Donald Trump's reality show, The Apprentice, to be hired for the Trump organization. Yet Rancic, as an entrepreneur, has himself been an employer who had to make hiring and compensation decisions at his company, Cigars Around the World.

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In an exclusive interview with Business and Legal Reports, Inc., Rancic took time out from a hectic schedule that includes overseeing a multimillion-dollar construction project in Chicago, traveling the country for speaking engagements at colleges and corporations, and promoting his new book, You're Hired: How to Succeed in Business and Life from the Winner of The Apprentice (HarperCollins, 2004).

The Apprentice, Bill Rancic

The book describes how, at the inception of the cigar company, Rancic and his partner had to forego their own wages in order to meet unanticipated demands of a start-up--and even compensated an employee by buying him a new suit.

A glimpse into Rancic's own compensation philosophy is found in his admiration for Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield, of Ben & Jerry's ice cream, for their policy of keeping their own salaries, as well as those of their top executives, at a relatively modest level in comparison to the salaries of their average full-time workers. "Granted, it's a tough pill for some executives to swallow," says Rancic, "but it's a great way to boost the morale of your entire company and to increase productivity and enthusiasm in the workplace."

Rancic recently fielded questions from BLR on a number of topics, including:

  • Hiring
  • BLR: In the forward to You're Hired, Donald Trump says that: "the art of hiring is one of the most important parts of any large an successful business, and the least understood." What lessons did you learn on The Apprentice that a human resources manager could implement regarding interviewing and hiring?

    Rancic: During the interview process, a candidate needs to sell himself, be prepared, and gather all of the information about the job. No showing up late for an interview or grammatical errors on a résumé.

    As far as hiring, you also need to do your homework and find out all about the candidate, prior work experience, etc.

    BLR: What method(s) do you recommend for identifying the right person for a position?

    Rancic: The person has to want the job, be able to tell me why they want to work for my organization, and what they will do to improve it.

    BLR: What's the toughest question ever put to you in a job interview, from "The Donald" or anybody else?

    Rancic: I haven't been on a job interview (other that the one on The Apprentice) since right after college. However, if you are prepared, the questions shouldn't be that tough.

  • Management Practices
  • BLR: While you have managed the day-to-day operations of your own company, Cigars Around the Word, what is the single most important management lesson you've learned from Donald Trump in working for him since winning The Apprentice?

    Rancic: The most important management lesson that I have learned from Mr. Trump is that you have to be able to adapt your management style depending on the situation.

    BLR: What types of warning signs or "red flags" should an employer look out for that might indicate a poor performer or difficult personality?

    Rancic: Some warning signs are that a difficult employee is never willing to take the blame for anything and is always saying it was somebody else's fault that this or that happened.

    BLR: You, yourself, are an entrepreneur. How do you recommend institutionalizing entrepreneurial spirit in an organization?

    Rancic: You can do this by being open to suggestions and not stifling creativity among employees.

  • Compensation
  • BLR: Would you do it all for free (i.e., work for Trump, gain valuable experience on one of Trump's projects, etc.)?

    Rancic: I have learned so much in the past 6 months from Mr. Trump and the people at the Trump organization. I would do it all over in a second. But for free? I'll have to think about it.

    Bill Rancic's book, You're Hired: How to Succeed in Business and Life from the Winner of The Apprentice, with a forward by Donald Trump, is available at bookstores and from online booksellers.

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