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Companies cash in on 'Apprentice'
Winner of Trump show getting a Chrysler roadster; KFC has post waiting for the runner-up.
April 20, 2004: 6:44 AM EDT

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - The first season of "The Apprentice" may be over on NBC, but the game is just getting started for other companies that are trying to cash in on the popularity of the hit reality show.

Chrysler Crossfire Roadster  
Chrysler is giving Rancic a new Chrysler Crossfire Roadster.

Show star Donald Trump, who fired the various apprentice contestants throughout the 13-week show, chose Bill Rancic over Kwame Jackson in a two-hour finale on Thursday.

More than 29 million viewers tuned in at some point during the show to watch Trump hire Rancic, 32, making it the most watched program of the evening, according to NBC citing early Neilsen numbers.

On top of a one-year, $250,000 contract for winning the show, Rancic also received a 2005 Chrysler Crossfire Roadster for being the last man standing.

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A look at the success of Donald Trump's branding versus his failing business and what the show has done for him. CNNfn's J.J. Ramberg reports.

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Throughout the season, NBC ran ads urging "Apprentice" viewers to sign on to its Web site and choose one of four Chrysler vehicles for the winner. Chrysler, a unit of DaimlerChrysler (DCX: down $0.20 to $40.44, Research, Estimates), said the new Crossfire Roadster received 291,000 votes as the favorite after nearly 350,000 viewers voted online.

The automaker exposed and promoted its new product -- the new Crossfire Roadster -- in the right setting, said John Allen, brand consultant at Lippincott Mercer.

"If you think about who Donald Trump is and what the show is all about, Chrysler really got involved with the show to rejuvenate itself as being young, hip and aggressive," he said. "It was a great fit."

Internet entrepreneur vs. Harvard graduate

Rancic, founder of cigarsaroundtheworld.com, had edged out Jackson, the laid-back Harvard MBA, for the final spot on the first season of "The Apprentice."

Four of the contestants -- (1) Katrina Campins, (2) Amy Henry, (3) Ereka Vetrinifrom and (4) Kristi Frank -- on 'The Apprentice' appear in the May issue of 'FHM' magazine.  
Four of the contestants -- (1) Katrina Campins, (2) Amy Henry, (3) Ereka Vetrinifrom and (4) Kristi Frank -- on 'The Apprentice' appear in the May issue of 'FHM' magazine.

In the final episode of the reality show, Rancic was assigned to run the Chrysler Trump Golf Tournament at Trump National Golf Club as his final task, while Jackson, a former investment manager at Goldman Sachs, was asked to coordinate a benefit concert for Norfolk-based charity Operation Smile by blond pop sensation Jessica Simpson at one of Trump's casino hotels in Atlantic City.

Thanks to Jackson's teammate Omarosa Manigault-Stallworth, Jackson's team lost Simpson, who is also a reality show star on MTV's "Newlyweds," twice during the two-hour season finale.

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But being the runner-up isn't all bad news to Jackson. The 29-year-old New Yorker was offered a one-week stint as Chief Sales Officer at fast-food chain KFC. The company was not immediately available to say if Jackson would take the job.

If Jackson accepts, the company said he will be involved in the launch of the company's Oven Roasted chicken product line.

Jackson would actually be paid more than Rancic, at least for one week. KFC, a unit of Yum Brands Inc. (YUM: Research, Estimates), said it would give him $25,000 for the one-week job, along with a year's supply of KFC products.

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Jackson also said, during a TV interview, that he was approached by Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks, after the live "Apprentice" broadcast on Thursday about a job opportunity. But he declined to further comment on his next move.

The men's magazine FHM already had cashed in on the show's popularity by running a lingerie photo of four of the female contestants -- Kristi Frank, Ereka Vetrini, Katrina Campin and Amy Henry -- who had been eliminated in earlier episodes.  Top of page




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