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Trump's next CEO?

by Brian Walker
| November 30, 2010 8:00 PM

POST FALLS - Eight months ago, Clint Robertson was staring at bankruptcy after the recession zapped his real estate title company.

Today, a lucrative gig awaits the 40-year-old who lives in Post Falls.

If he doesn't land the $250,000 a year job as Donald Trump's next CEO, he has several offers on the table for being in the final three on "The Apprentice," Trump's reality business competition series on NBC that airs on Thursdays at 8 p.m.

"Win, lose or draw, I'm going to be very busy after the show is over (in two weeks)," said Robertson, adding that he has had several job offers and invitations to be a guest speaker from being on the show.

Robertson said he doesn't know who will be named Trump's apprentice.

"Nobody on the show will know who the apprentice is until the finale," he said. "We'll learn that with America on Dec. 9."

The field will be cut to two early in the show on Thursday. Robertson said he knows who the final two are, but couldn't say who.

The other finalists are Brandy Kuentzel and Liza Macheru-Wisner, both 30.

Robertson, his wife, Sandy, and their sons Jake, 14, Eli, 12, and Daniel, 10, have been living in Post Falls for the past year.

Regardless of what happens on the show, Robertson said his schedule will force them to move. But he said he's not ruling out spending time here in the future, especially with the friends they've made and the beauty.

"I hate to think that we have to leave here because of the remoteness of the location, but our days here are numbered, which is sad," he said.

His business in Weatherford, Texas, has picked up some business from the TV exposure to stave off bankruptcy.

"The good thing is that we're not going into winter wondering how we'll pay our employees," Robertson said. "We're not close to where we were three years ago, but I've seen the Lord use the show to allow our business to grow. We've really been blessed."

The 16 candidates in Season 10 of the show have been hit hard by the recession and are trying to rebuild their careers or have recently graduated from college with no job prospects.

Robertson said he could only comment on what has been aired on the show so far. For making the top three, he has won a $5,000 gift certificate at Pier 1 Imports and a cell phone with paid service for a year.

"I believe most of the compensation - if there is any - will come after the finale," he said.

Robertson sold his Texas home last year, lived off the equity, downsized his business and held an estate sale before moving his family to a leased home in Post Falls. They had been paying the lease and planned to use it as a vacation home.

"But because of the economy, it became our permanent home," he said. "I was really scratching my head because, at the rate we were going, I wasn't going to make it another three months (without filing bankruptcy). This show came at just the right time."

Times changed on a dime for the Robertsons on April 1 in Las Vegas when Clint was chosen from thousands of people during a casting call for the show to be among the 16 candidates.

"I know it sounds crazy to pay for a hotel and round trip, but my wife and I knew (being selected) was going to happen," Robertson said. "Call it epiphany, providence, or otherwise, we knew the moment we saw the ad that (being selected for the show) was our answered prayer."

During the taping of the 13-week show, from April to mid-summer, Robertson was only able to have phone contact with his family for 10 minutes a night with a monitor present.

"That was the toughest part for me, but I realize they want to protect the integrity of the show," he said. "I have a new appreciation for what military families go through."

The Robertsons have used the time since the show was taped to have family time in North Idaho and do some public relations work for the show. All of the boys are home-schooled.

Clint gets stopped almost every time he's in public, and the family has taken the attention in stride.

"This is right up Clint's alley," Sandy said. "He was made for this. I'm the photographer who takes people's picture with Clint."

She said their boys have also had fun blogging about the experience with their friends.

Robertson said being on the show was a pressure cooker, even more so than what's shown.

"You have to think so quickly that you forget the cameras are even there," he said. "But you see the very essence of who people are."

Robertson said he has even more respect for Trump than before the show.

"He's exactly what everybody sees on TV," Robertson said. "He doesn't have an air of arrogance or pride. It's an air of confidence. At the same time, I see him as a man you like to be around who is down to Earth."

Robertson said he believes his honesty and respect for others helped keep him on the show this long.

"What you see with me is what you get," he said.

In the boardroom last week, Trump said he is impressed with Robertson's educational background, which includes a doctorate degree in law from Southern Methodist University.

Steuart Martens, Robertson's business partner before he got fired last week, said Robertson lacks "metropolitan savviness."

But Trump said he has businesses in cities of all sizes so the argument didn't hold.

"I know a lot of guys like Clint, and they're really successful," Trump said.

Trump called Robertson "very entrepreneurial."

Contestants last week were required to write, direct and produce segments selling Isaac Mizrahi products for media retailer QVC.

"I'm a CEO right out of the box," Robertson told Trump during the show. "I'm a Renaissance man that can take over any business."

This week one finalist runs a golf tournament featuring Kathy Griffin the other plans a Liza Minelli concert.

Regardless of the outcome, Robertson said he plans to use his experience on the show to speak about how faith in Jesus Christ can pull you through tough times. Living in North Idaho has been a part of Robertson's story.

"We want to maintain some roots here," he said. "It fits like an old pair of boots. We want to have ties here no matter what happens because it will always be a part of me and my family. Of all the places I've been on God's Earth, this is the most beautiful. I hope people never take it for granted what they've got here."

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