Carolyn 101: Business Lessons from The Apprentice's Straight Shooter

Carolyn 101: Business Lessons from The Apprentice's Straight Shooter


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Known to the millions of viewers of the hit reality television show The Apprentice, Carolyn Kepcher attracted enormous media attention for her cool demeanor and her no-holds-barred assessments of the show's candidates in the boardroom each week. In Carolyn 101, the woman Donald Trump has described as a "killer" businesswoman reveals the secrets of her success.
Geared toward those just entering the workforce or seasoned employees looking to distinguish themselves, Kepcher's book provides readers with guidance for their professional lives. Illustrating her advice with examples taken from her own career, she shows them how to:

  • ace an interview
  • deal with a difficult boss
  • maintain a healthy balance between work and home life
  • spot potential business opportunities
  • be a strong team member or team leader

Straightforward and inspirational, Carolyn 101 shows ambitious professionals what they need to do to get ahead and take their own careers even further than they had imagined.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780743270342
Publisher: Touchstone
Publication date: 09/20/2005
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 240
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.43(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Carolyn Kepcher is an Executive Vice President with The Trump Organization and the COO of Trump National Golf Clubs in New York and New Jersey. She has worked for The Trump Organization for nearly ten years and costars with her boss, Donald Trump, on the hit reality television series The Apprentice. She lives with her husband and two children in Ridgefield, Connecticut.

Stephen Fenichell is the author of Plastic: The Making of a Synthetic Century and Other People's Money, as well as the coauthor of Passport to Profits with Mark Mobius and A New Brand World with Scott Bedbury.

Donald J. Trump is the very definition of the American success story, continually setting the standards of excellence while expanding his interests in real estate, sports, and entertainment. He is a graduate of the Wharton School of Finance. An accomplished author, Mr. Trump has authored over fifteen bestsellers and his first book, The Art of the Deal, is considered a business classic and one of the most successful business books of all time. Mr. Trump has over eight million followers on social media and is a frequent guest across a variety of media platforms.

Read an Excerpt

from Chapter One: A Foot in the Door

To: Carolyn Kepcher [E-mail]

My friends have just been watching The Apprentice and when it ended I made a comment, saying that you seemed to be a real smart lady and I said I was sure that you were very aggressive in the business world, and that I'm sure that you worked for many top companies. My friend responded that he thought you were probably related or connected personally to Trump and that's how you got the job. How did you get the job? Please explain.

My personal agenda, going into the meeting, had just one item on it: Impress Donald Trump.

I had about thirteen minutes of face time at my first meeting with him in which to accomplish that task, make my pitch, and get out. After that, I knew the chips were going to fall where they may. Looking back, I don't recall that going to work for The Trump Organization was a serious consideration at that point; the prospect seemed too remote to contemplate. Still, in light of my brush with celebrity since my TV debut on The Apprentice, the irony hasn't been lost on me that I owe my current high public profile to the fact that ten years ago, in my mid-twenties, I was lucky enough to land a job strikingly similar to the one nearly 215,000 young Americans competed for in the spring of 2003, during the casting call for the first season of The Apprentice.

Since The Apprentice I have become "Carolyn," as in "Don't Cross Carolyn!" To my husband's distress, public opinion has seen fit to chop off my last name for simplicity's sake. Often these days I'm stopped in the street or in hotel lobbies by people who profess to know me, which in a sense, I guess they do. I have earned a reputation (justified) as a straight shooter and a tell-it-like-it-is kind of woman. That's not an act, by the way, that's who I am. But I have also earned a fearsome reputation as a starchy hanging judge, as Donald Trump's "Ice Queen," or another personal favorite, "Donald Trump's stern taskmaster."

Some people have even charged me with being tougher on the female contestants than on the men. In a later chapter, I intend to plead not guilty to that charge — with an explanation. But my main reason for writing this book has nothing to do with softening, straightening, or correcting my image. I'm more than happy with my reputation as a businesswoman and a professional, and even happier that we at The Trump Organization have been given an opportunity to show millions of viewers that we are not just about constructing and managing glamorous commercial buildings and exclusive residential developments, spas, and golf courses. Like every true visionary I've ever met, Donald Trump is both a talented teacher and a talented student, as I think is obvious from his conduct and character on the show. Under his tutelage, I have learned to sharpen my skills as a negotiator and a deal maker, although the negotiating and deal making I do as executive vice president and senior manager of two of The Trump Organization's premier golf properties is, I admit, on a much smaller scale and lesser plane than Mr. Trump's.

I'm writing this book mainly because a number of fans — mostly but not all of them women, mostly but by no means all of them young women, and mostly but by no means all of them women in business — have inundated me with mail in recent months, asking me a variety of questions about how I got to my present position, what I think of the evolving role of women in business, how to negotiate some of the simplest yet toughest aspects of getting ahead and succeeding in professional life. We'll discuss writing a winning résumé, making a successful presentation in a job interview, dealing with bosses, good and bad, employees, good and bad, and colleagues, good and bad. We'll talk about how to dress for success, how to manage a meeting, how to ask for a raise or a promotion, how to manage work and family, and how to play with the big boys (and rarely, if ever, lose).

Rather than answer all my questioners individually — although I've tried — I'm writing this book to convey in print some of the messages I've sought to communicate by both my words and my behavior on the show. My personal values, if you will, can be summed up in one sentence: Whatever you do, always remain a lady.

And for the guys, I think the same rule (with one word switched) applies nearly as well: Whatever you do, always remain a gentleman.

I also believe in leading by example. This is why rather than merely laying out a long list of rules of conduct, I've included lessons and experiences from my own career as a way of showing you, as opposed to telling you, how best to handle oneself when confronted with the wide variety of problems, challenges, and opportunities that typically present themselves in the workplace. I believe the best way to understand career success is to look carefully at the people who've achieved it.

Being the tell-it-like-it-is type, I plan to tell it like it is. I'm not planning to hand out savvy advice on how to make money (for that, see Donald Trump's Trump: How to Get Rich). Forget about getting insights here on where to invest, or how to become a millionaire in five seconds, five minutes, or five years. I'm thirty-five and have been working steadily since I was twelve, with a little time out, of course, to finish high school, college, and one year of graduate school. I've been on the job ever since and have risen to a senior executive position in an organization dominated by men in an industry — the golf industry — likewise dominated by men.

I'm often surprised to find very bright and well-educated people who don't have the faintest idea of how to get ahead or move to the next level of their careers. We will be training our sights on sharpening skills such as sizing up a situation, spotting opportunities for advancement, and anticipating your next move. This book is for all of you looking to push onward and forward and upward in your careers.

In preparation for The Apprentice's second season, Donald Trump, George Ross, and I went down to 40 Wall Street — a Trump Organization property — to sit in on some of the casting and screening discussions. Now please bear in mind that 215,000 people applied to become contestants for the first season, and more than one million applied for the second.

On the day we went to Wall Street, it was snowing and cold. An estimated two thousand people had been standing in line since three or four in the morning, dolled up in their best business attire. I saw young women in high heels with their toes showing, half frostbitten. Once they made it into the lobby, they had to wait in another long line, before — if they got lucky — they joined the few to be plunked down at a big round table where Donald, George, and I were sitting. Once they joined us, in groups of ten, a topic would be thrown out and they would be given, at the most, ten minutes in which to respond — to show us their stuff.

I knew it was possible that the contestants facing me, confronted with stepping up to the plate and making their pitch to be cast, had flown in from some distant city or small town. Maybe they had hired a babysitter, skipped a day of work, risked losing their jobs, risked freezing to death, in the cold, all for the sake of grasping this golden ring, gaining this great opportunity, one moment of face time in which to impress us.

Carolyn 101:

Opportunities tend to be one-time shots; if you don't take them that instant, you lose them forever.

I was shocked at how many of those contestants, who had put so much of themselves on the line to get that far, and who probably had impressive work experience and résumés, totally blew that opportunity. It's not that I wanted them to make fools of themselves, to jump up and down on the table screaming, "I'm over here! Come and get me!" But come on, at least demonstrate some smarts, show us some pizzazz, open your mouth, make sure we remember you when we leave this table. Granted, it can be tough for ten people to have a real conversation in ten minutes. But I can remember one young person (I can't even recall if it was a man or a woman) reaching over the table so that he or she deliberately blocked a rival from saying anything. And you know what? The woman being blocked out of the game didn't do a damn thing about it. Which one was worse? The rude one who shoved the rival aside, or the passive one who refused to defend herself? I'd have to say I wouldn't have hired either of them to paint my house.

Curious about this phenomenon, I asked this young woman point-blank, "What do you have to say about what just happened here?" This was at least, you'd have to admit, a germane topic of conversation. You know what? She didn't say anything. She couldn't say anything. She was just so embarrassed to be put on the spot, she choked under the pressure.

This book is for her.

Copyright © 2004 by Carolyn Kepcher

Table of Contents


Foreword by Donald Trump


A Foot in the Door


The Bad Boss


The Good Manager


The Good Employee


The Managerial Mother


The Woman in the Workplace


The Good Team


The Good Company


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Carolyn 101: Business Lessons from The Apprentice's Straight Shooter 3.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'A vast wasteland.' The excessive usage of cliches becomes quite irritating after a while. Personally I felt the book attempts to emphasize on the fact that most if not all bosses are ireverent, and falls under a false inference implying a pretense. If not one of the most boasting,prosaic,dilatory cinderella stories I have ever read. Although this time we found a few gambling chips in the glass slipper.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Pretty decent read. Carolyn's business perspective and life lessons are pretty straightforward and refreshing. I would have preffered more insight on specific dynamics as opposed to sweeping examples. If you are as fortunate as her to be involved with a supportive staff and work for a top organization, then this is a good book for you. For the practical business manager who has either the execs or shareholders have a gun pointed at you if you don't deliver results, then this book does not describe your environment. I would recommend this book for undergraduate business students as opposed to seasoned professionals.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Ms. Carolyn has contributed advise to the genral pool of business knowledge that can awe the average mind such as my self, and yet she teaches lessons on how to become a better person. She really opens up in a professional manner to show the what and what not to do's... over all its one of better Trump line books. Mr. Trump could learn a thing or two from Ms. Carolyn. 5 stars!
Guest More than 1 year ago
Pure bloviating tripe. The only thing I learned is that people with instant fame have an overblown sense of self.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was thinking this might just be a cheap spin off book to make a quick buck because of the Apprentice brand name frenzy that is going on. However, I found the book interesting and informative and gained even more respect and admiration for Carolyn.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Carolyn is one impressive woman! As a businesswoman myself working in the business world with managers, co-workers and customers, I appreciate the gems of wisdom that Carolyn shares in her book. It's not rocket-science, just a lot of common sense ideas mixed with great values and leadership skills, tempered with experience. I aspire to be more like her - successful and determined, non-waivering, with the ability to quickly assess any situation and formulate a workable plan. I finished the book in two evenings, but this one is definitely a book where I'll re-read chapters to pick up on ideas that I perhaps didn't capture the first time. I loved how she related her path including family and work associates, and the lessons along the way are invaluable. I was blown away to learn that she has children! She gives me hope. The only downside to this book was that it should have been longer...I would have loved to hear more stories and learn a few more lessons. Now I am off to put what lessons I did learn to good use!