By Chris Michaud
Real estate mogul-turned reality TV star Donald Trump hired his fourth apprentice on Thursday, choosing consulting firm CEO Randal Pinkett during a live telecast of the finale of NBC's "The Apprentice."
Trump chose Pinkett over financial journalist Rebecca Jarvis on a Lincoln Center stage that was outfitted as a mock-up of the boardroom in which Trump aims his weekly "You're fired" at one of the contestants vying for a six-figure job with the Trump organization.
Trump offered Pinkett, the first African-American to win the apprentice job, his choice of supervising either the construction of a luxury condo complex in Jersey City or the expansion and renovation of his three Atlantic City casinos. Pinkett, 34, chose the latter job, which will last at least one year and possibly longer.
For their final tasks, Pinkett had to coordinate a celebrity softball game to benefit autism, while Jarvis took on a comedy fund-raiser for pediatric AIDS.
Both suffered personal hardships during the course of the show, filmed over several months. Pinkett's grandmother died suddenly early in the series while Jarvis broke her ankle while skating with professional hockey players and had to use crutches for the duration of the filming.
Pinkett, who lives in Somerset, New Jersey, was a popular choice among the other contestants who backed him strongly and spoke of his amiable management style and proven record in the show's weekly competitions. The more aggressive Jarvis, 23, also had supporters who praised her determination and focus.
Trump appeared highly impressed with both the semifinalists, and after telling Pinkett "You're hired," appeared to waver and asked him whether he should hire Jarvis as well, which would have been a first for the show.
But Pinkett responded that the show was called "The Apprentice," which was a sole designation and there should only be one winner. "Let's leave it at that," Trump said, although he added that he could have been convinced to take on the runner-up.
More than 1 million people tried out for the fourth season of the series, which was a surprise hit when it premiered in 2003. The next "Apprentice" is expected to run in late winter or early spring, sometime after the Winter Olympics wrap up.
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