We thought since Bill Rancic is from Chicago and develops real estate here, coming to speak at the Club Industry show would be a piece of cake. Not so.
Rancic is currently on the talk-show circuit promoting season three of "Giuliana and Bill" which begins Monday on the Style network. He and his wife also have a new book out called "I Do, Now What?" (We mentioned the book several months ago right here on this blog.)
So Rancic got in late last night from New York, then after this morning's presentation, he had a limo waiting for him to take him back to O'Hare for a 12:30 p.m. flight back to New York to do more press with Giuliana. (We hope he made that flight!)
If he was nervous, you could never tell it by being around him this morning. He was accommodating with his time and greeted every attendee who wanted a photo or an autograph with him.
Rancic, the first winner of "The Apprentice," started off by answering a question he often gets at speaking engagements: Is Donald Trump's hair real?
"Of course I have to say that it is," Rancic said before receiving his first big laugh of the day from the audience.
Rancic recounted his days as an early entrepreneur, all the way back to his boyhood when he ran a makeshift pancake restaurant out of his grandma's house.
Later on, he had an idea to open up a bar and be the next Sam Malone from "Cheers," only to find that the bar, called The Aftermath, was actually a bondage bar, complete with a dungeon room.
"I really would like to start a business where my family can help me," he said about why he didn't buy that bar.
Then, Rancic thought of an idea that would change his life: the first-ever cigar of the month club. He got support and free advertising from local radio stations in Chicago and later from radio stations in New York, Los Angeles and Detroit. TV exposure wasn't as good, as the only show that would have him was the short-lived Danny Bonaduce talk show.
"I got on that show twice in six weeks," Rancic said.
A talent agent, who was also the mother of a friend of Rancic, later got him an appointment to interview for a spot on a new show called "The Apprentice." Once the producers picked him to be a contestant, they didn't want him to tell his friends anything about the show, so they had him tell them that he had to go to Havana, Cuba, to scout out tobacco fields and he could have no contact with the outside world.
"These are best producers in Hollywood?" Rancic thought about the cover story they wanted him to use. But his friends, amazingly, believed him.
Well, from there, you know the rest of the story. Rancic got on the show, survived the 13-week ordeal with little sleep or food and was hired by Trump to be the first "Apprentice."
Rancic shared a few key messages with attendees: He won "The Apprentice," he says, because of practical execution, agility and risk. He also cited Trump, Ted Turner and Mark Cuban as entrepreneurs who, Rancic says, are all good decision-makers, are all creative and they never quit or make excuses.
Traits to avoid, Rancic said, are to be reactive rather than proactive, to surround yourself with negative people and to not maximize your potential.
"Take that rear-view mirror off the car," he said.
Rancic took a few questions from the attendees. When asked what's up with Omarosa from "The Apprentice," Rancic said, "She's a little bit out there, man." Also, Rancic said Trump would make a good president, but he doesn't think he'll ever run.
After that, it was time to head back to New York.