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Rancic: Successful businesses convert risk into success

Lauren Abdel-Razzaq
The Detroit News

Grand Rapids — During his speech at the state’s largest tourism conference, Bill Rancic, the Chicago entrepreneur and first ever winner of the TV show “The Apprentice,” answered the question that’s been on everybody’s mind since Donald Trump first became a household name.

“Is Donald Trump’s hair real? It is,” said Rancic. “I’ve been on a helicopter with it. It didn’t go anywhere.”

Rancic was the featured speaker Monday at the Pure Michigan Governor’s Conference on Tourism at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids. He shared his tips for success with the hundreds of business owners representing the hospitality, marketing and lodging industries in the audience.

Rancic said his first real business was in Michigan. During college, he spent his summers in New Buffalo on the shores of Lake Michigan with his friend running a boat buffing and waxing business. There, he said, he was inspired by meeting the successful people who came from Detroit and other parts of the state to vacation.

“It changed my life,” he said. “I realized these people had achieved great things, but they weren’t any different than me.”

Rancic first achieved success by starting the first Cigar-of-the-Month Club in the early ’90s. He talked about how he struggled to market himself and how one of the first radio stations he was ever featured on was the Paul W. Smith show in 1994.

“I saw him here today,” said Rancic. “I went up and thanked him because I always remember the people who helped me along the way.”

In 2003, Rancic was just getting into real estate when he was cast on the Apprentice, winning a spot out of 215,000 applicants. Weeks later, 28 million people watched as he won the show and a position as Donald Trump’s right-hand man.

Not only did the win thrust him into the spotlight, Rancic said it gave him connections in the high-powered world of real estate.

“Trump upheld his end of the bargain,” he said. “He took me under his wing and showed me what business is like at that level.”

Rancic also gave his advice on what successful people do, versus unsuccessful people.

Those who fail in business are unable to make timely decisions, surround themselves with negative people and they are reactive rather than proactive about problems, he said. The successful people don’t talk a big game, but let their actions speak for themselves, they can adapt and they understand risk and convert it into success.

“When we’re born into this world, we’re born with only two fears: a fear of falling and a fear of loud noises. Every other fear is learned,” he said. “So many people are afraid to fail, afraid of what their friends and family will say, and they never even try.”

Rancic said Michigan has become a success story as the state continues to recover from the tough times of economic recession.

“You guys don’t quit. You fight,” he said. “When you get kicked down, you get back up.”

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