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"Apprentice" runner-up honored

By JERRY GLEESON, THE JOURNAL NEWS
(Original publication: November 19, 2004)

Kwame Jackson has a pricey retail and residential development project in the works in Maryland, and ambitious plans for a retail apparel line and a
television network production deal. But none of it would have happened if not for the insistence of his pal Dave Smith several years ago.

As Jackson recounted the tale at the eighth annual Awards and Scholarship Dinner of the African-American Chamber of Commerce of Westchester and Rockland Counties at the Hilton Rye Town last night, his friend had heard that a new reality TV show was in the works. It involved Donald Trump and entrepreneurship. Let's try
out, Smith suggested.

Jackson, a Harvard MBA, was busy at the time managing investments at Goldman Sachs. Life wasn't great on Wall Street at the time, given the collapse of the technology bubble. And Jackson, who lived in a studio apartment where his bed
abutted the oven, decided to take a little risk.
He and Smith wrangled a meeting with the casting director for the show.

"We know there is a one-black-guy rule in reality TV. We brought two, so you could pick one," Jackson recalled telling the director. They hit it off.

Jackson found himself on the show, "The Apprentice."

It drew tens of millions of viewers. He became runner-up in the program's contest for which the prize was a job with Trump, but his life worked out better in other ways.

As Jackson told the audience, he figured the maximum downside was going back to
work on Wall Street.

"The maximum upside was being here tonight, addressing you," he said.

Jackson received all sorts of job offers following the end of the show, but he decided to take another risk by forming his own company, Legacy Development Partners LLC. The attraction of a Wall Street paycheck had waned. Jackson, whom
the African-American chamber has named Business Leader of the Year, said the
recognitions the chamber awarded spoke to something bigger.

"Tonight is about betting on yourself," he said.


Reach Jerry Gleeson at gleeson@thejournalnews.com or 914-694-5026.Reach Jerry Gleeson at jgleeson@thejournalnews.com or 914-694-5026.

 

     

 

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