Fervent fans waved his name and picture on banners. But after besting 16 others over 15 weeks, Cornell alumnus Lee Bienstock '05 lost his bid Monday, June 5, to become millionaire uber-celebrity Donald Trump's next apprentice.
Still, he has "a lot to look forward to," said Bienstock the day after his loss -- including dozens of job opportunities and a televised offer from Trump to "reach out and give me a call."
Bienstock's ultimate rival, Sean ("The Apprentice" prefers first names only), won more online votes from viewers of the job-interview reality show on NBC. It didn't hurt that Sean also went public about his plans to marry an attractive teammate on the season finale and also successfully managed his final assignment, a concert by the rock group Bare Naked Ladies at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, N.J., to benefit the World Wildlife Fund.
But Bienstock did well, too, with his task, a celebrity hockey match to raise money for the Leary Firefighters Foundation. The event featured such television stars on ice as Denis Leary of "Rescue Me," who founded the charity, but the match lacked the glitter of a plush Trump property in the background.
In the final round, the two contestants defended their backgrounds, performances and decisions before Trump, who praised them both and spoke of the difficulty of choosing between them. In the end, however, the 22-year-old Bienstock's youthful optimism and energy (he volunteered as a project manager four times during the 15-week show) were less persuasive than Sean's age (he is 33) and claim to experience.
"I am proud of everything I was able to accomplish over the course of this past year," said Bienstock. "Everyone has been supportive, and I look forward to my future." Prior to his season in the limelight, he was a business analyst with Accenture, a global management consulting company.