Kelly Smith Beaty recalls telling her parents she’d be so wealthy by age 30, she could retire.
Things didn’t quite work out that way.
Last year, she lost her job at Edelman Public Relations. Another job was not immediately forthcoming. So now at age 30, she is living in her childhood room at her parent’s home in Fayetteville.
“Very humbling,” she said.
But she is getting what is effectively a national job interview thanks to Donald Trump and the return of the regular “Apprentice” after a three-year hiatus. Even if she doesn’t win, the exposure could help her get another job.
The show is reflective of the times. Plenty of unemployed yet talented people are hungry for jobs and attention. Trump sought out some sob stories and created a cast of down-and-out white-collar workers who you’ll see for the first time Thursday at 9 p.m. The winner gets a job with Trump and a cash prize. (In the past, it’s been $250,000. I can’t find how much it is this time around.)
“My unemployment was unexpected and happened abruptly,” Beaty said. “I hadn’t planned on it. I didn’t see it coming. It took me into a place where I really had to question who I am. You can spend so much time building this life and then have it taken away from you in a moment. Everything you build up is gone. That’s what I had to deal with.”
“Now I have to do things like call credit companies and say I can’t pay a bill this month,” Beaty continued. “I have to defer student loans. I can’t move forward in life.”
I previewed the first episode, which was shot in New York City over the summer. Beaty doesn’t get a lot of airtme so it’s hard to say if she’s going to last awhile or get targeted early.
If anything, the tenor of the show is different from the early seasons. While there are a fair share of arrogant jerks, a necessary staple in this type of competitive program, the stakes seem higher. “Some have children to feed,” Beaty said. “Everyone knows there’s this big pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. The energy level is higher. We all want to get to the end. I know what I’m going home to. There’s not much there.”
She was not fazed by the long hours and lack of sleep. “The media never stops,” she said, referring to her old job in PR. “I’ve sat in my office at three in the morning. I’ve been on my way to lunch and the Blackberry goes off. I’m used to the 24-hour work cycle.”
One thing you don’t get on the show is privacy. If you’re gone for more than a few minutes, people wonder where you are and whether you’re slacking off, Beaty said. Some people have to make personal calls, especially if they have kids. Others have to call into their unemployment office to ensure they keep getting their checks. Beaty spoke to her family just twice to tell them she’s alive.
While shooting the show (which is supposed to be a secret), she said some friends got suspicious when she suddenly stopped using Facebook. Some people even called her parents to see if she was okay. They told her friends she was doing some sort of free-lance project.
Her parents, by the way, were split on her going on the show. Her dad runs a video production company and was all for it. Her mom is more private and was a bit more nervous. But Beaty’’s glad her parents have been able to help her out in her time of need.
And while they aren’t pressuring her to leave, she has her own internal pressure in her head.
“I have to get out of my parent’s house,” she said. “I need this job.”
“The Apprentice,” 9 p.m. this Thursday on NBC. Starting next week, it will air at 10 p.m. Thursdays.