TV Squad Interview: Kendra Todd
We promised you an up close and personal look at The Apprentice winner, Kendra Todd, and here it is! Kendra's schedule is really packed these days, between running her own business, My House Real Estate, and working for The Trump Organization. TV Squad managed to catch Kendra in a brief downtime between meetings, to talk to her about her business, The Apprentice, and what comes next for her. Kendra talks candidly about that Pontiac brochure, what she really thinks about Craig, and why she didn't give Tana the smackdown in the finale.
TVSQUAD: Can you tell us a little more about your own business, My House Real Estate?
KENDRA TODD: We're not real estate agents. We market real estate - second homes and investment property. We help investors evaluate and select properties with a high resale value. I've seen a lot of people change their lives by making secure real estate investments. It's a beautiful thing about working in real estate - being able to really help people make a difference in their lives.
TVSQUAD: Let's talk a little about The Apprentice now. At 26 years old you were already highly successful in the real estate field, with your own business. What made you decide to audition for The Apprentice?
KT: Well, what happened was, my business partner called me and said they were having open auditions for The Apprentice in Miami. So we decided to go down there and recruit employee prospects from the candidates. We printed up a bunch of fliers that said, "You're Hired!" and went down there with them and started talking people up and recruiting. I thought they might kick us out, but they didn't (laughs). I always like to push the envelope. Since we were already there, we decided to audition, just on a whim. And I made it.
TVSQUAD: Were you already a fan of the show?
KT: Well, I don't watch much TV, I'm just too busy. But The Apprentice was one I was immediately drawn to, I mean - it was a show about business and strategy, it was a business-savvy show. Nothing like it had ever been done. I watched the first season and I was hooked.
TVSQUAD: Did you study the earlier seasons and try to learn from them?
KT: I don't watch TV for entertainment much at all. I watched the show from an educational standpoint, to learn from it. I was the same age as the contestants, I was just starting my own business. I learned a lot from watching the show and from the advice Mr. Trump gave the contestants. Like, I remember one time Nick was in the Board Room and he was talking about how he's such a good salesperson, and Mr. Trump said to him, "To be a great leader takes more than just sales". I really took that to heart.
TVSQUAD: Let's talk about the finale. A lot of our readers were surprised you didn't give Tana the smackdown about that Pontiac brochure. She kept going on about the shape, but the success of that brochure was much more about marketing. You understood that it was all about the emotional impact of the car; it was your idea to use that photo shoot to get marketing data from real people; you knew how to use that data in creating the right brochure. And twice Tana tried to take credit for it.
KT: You know, when Tana started going off about the brochure, I made my point - I said that it was about a lot more than just the shape, but I gave her credit for coming up with the circular design - that was a good idea. Look, I value the input of my team members - that's why I tried so hard to get her (Tana) and Craig to stay up instead of going to bed. It's not like they crashed early - it was 3AM - but those five hours that I worked alone, that did make all the difference in the final product and in winning that task.
But I wasn't going to get into some big fight then (at the finale). It would have looked ridiculous to start arguing back and forth about that one task. This was a 16-week job interview, that was one task. And you know, Mr. Trump is an intelligent man. He saw all the tapes of every episode. They all (Trump and George and Carolyn) did. And anyone who is reasonably intelligent who saw that episode can look at the whole picture of that task and see how it all came down.
TVSQUAD: So you decided to take the high road?
KT: It just would have looked bad, and that's not the kind of person I am. I didn't need to get into it with her, it wasn't that big a deal. I beat Tana head-to-head as project manager on the t-shirt task, I succeeded at other things. The brochure was just one task.
TVSQUAD: Let's talk about the t-shirt task. You were assigned to work with Craig on that task. Probably not your first choice.
KT: Yeah. (sighs)
TVSQUAD: Now, obviously, you and Craig did not get along so well. But you had to work with him on this critical task. And you hit a home run with that task, you beat Tana, because you really got that it was all about marketing the artist, not about t-shirts. How did you succeed at that task while working with someone with whom you had a major personality conflict?
KT: Craig and I had some...issues communicating. He's a nice guy personally. That task was all about the artist. I knew who that artist was, I've seen his work in a gallery in Miami. Craig did not really understand that it was about the artist - if he had, look, he would not have been arguing with me about stars on the shirt instead of hearts. Because that artist, if you look at his work, what he's known for is hearts, hearts, hearts. Hearts had to be on that shirt.
TVSQUAD: You and Craig had some personality conflicts. But I heard from some of your staff that Craig was the nicest guy at the viewing parties. They were surprised.
KT: I think Craig is an outstanding person. He has great moral character. Craig was just difficult to communicate with. But I'm one of those people, I can separate the business from the personal. And I think Craig finally realized, at the end at least, that people can have different ways of doing things than just his way. It doesn't matter so much how you get from Point A to Point B, what matters is the end result. We can both take different paths and end up in the same place, and that's okay.
TVSQUAD: One of the things that both Carolyn and George dinged you on in the Board Room was "flying under the radar" - that you didn't step up soooner to be project manager. In one of the episodes, you started to defend yourself, saying it was your strategy. Would you care to elaborate on that?
KT: First of all, viewers don't see everything that happened. It's three days worth of work edited down to 40 minutes. I happened to be the last project manager on Magna. The way we did things on Magna, and I'm not sure if this is true of other teams, but with each task we sat down as a team, and people who were interested in managing that project would say why they should lead.
Typically there would be 2-3 people who were up for the job, based on their skills and experience. They would say why they should get to lead, and then we would all vote as a team. And I supported my team's decisions in that regard. The thing is that some of the early task were not as marketing-oriented. The golf task, that one went to Stephanie because she loves golf so much and she really wanted it, but that task - I knew it was really was all about marketing, not golf. But I respected my teammates decisions and supported them; you have to do that.
It's a dangerous thing to take on managing a task with a team you don't know well. And if you look at the results, the first five or six people who got fired were project managers on losing teams. So it ended up working out for me.
TVSQUAD: Let's talk about the jobs you and Tana were offered. A lot of our readers have commented they though the jobs were too "girly", at least compared to the jobs Bill and Kelly were offered.
KT: Look, I work in the real estate business, and let me tell you something. Renovating a $100 million, 43,000 square foot property is not a small undertaking by any means. It's a very different type of job than supervising the building of a high rise, but renovating and converting - there are many people in the real estate business who do that. There's a lot to it. It's not an easy job.
The Miss Universe Pageant, that was geared more to Tana's interests, the Mansion was toward mine. But the Pageant - Mr. Trump owns lots of different types of businesses besides just building tall buildings. He's into books, he's into other types of real estate - converting commercial properties into expensive residential properties, he owns the Pageant. Does anyone call Mr. Trump "girly" because he owns the Miss Universe Pageant? Why would it be "girly" to manage it, if it's not "girly" to own it?
TVSquad: Because of The Apprentice, you're suddenly in the spotlight. Media interviews, lots of pressure, working for Mr. Trump while managing your own business and keeping it going. You're being talked about as a role model for girls. How do you handle all that pressure while still staying grounded?
KT: I haven't really changed. I'm a very grounded person. I feel sorry for people who are "superstars", people like Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. You look at them - people put them on a pedestal and expect them to be perfect people, to have the perfect marriage. My parents instilled values in me. They taught me that I could do and achieve anything I wanted.
My business is about education, I've traveled around the country giving seminars, teaching people how to use real estate to make a better life for themselves. The best part of The Apprentice is being able to spread the message to more people that you can do whatever you want, you don't have to just dream the dream - live the dream.