Alumna Is Candidate on NBC® Television's "The Apprentice"
By Kayee Dooley
Behind The Scenes of "The Apprentice"
Tammy Trenta (Beta Epsilon-Arizona State) was one of five final candidates on season five of NBC Television's "The Apprentice." She competed with 17 other candidates for an apprenticeship and a six-figure annual salary with the Trump Organization during a 15-week interview process on reality television.
In the season premiere episode, the candidates were divided into two teams of nine members, Synergy and Gold Rush. Tammy was on team Synergy. Each week, one candidate from each team volunteered to lead as project manager in a competition assigned by Donald Trump. The team winning the competition received a special "reward," and the losing team was called to the board room, where one or more persons would be "fired" by Trump.
During one of the episodes, team Synergy won the assigned task and was escorted by Brinks Security to a secret vault that stored more than $100 million worth of diamonds. The team took home approximately $30,000 in diamonds as their reward. "It felt like going into a prison," Tammy describes of the search procedures arriving to and departing from the vault. But she says the experience is one she will not forget. She joked about feeling bad for the next guy who may give her jewelry since she is now a formidable expert on quality diamonds.
But the rewards of the interview process were matched by challenges along the way. One rule of filming, says Tammy, is that all contestants had to be in front of one of two cameras at all times. This proved to be a hindrance when one of her teammates refused to do the job Tammy assigned him as project manager and she was not able to remove him from the project. Conflict ensued among team members, and at one point there was a small confrontation. Team Synergy lost the challenge, but the rest of her teammates rallied behind her, and Tammy was not fired for her management of the project.
"In life, you will always have one person who will be difficult to manage. If they fail, you as the manager is responsible," says Tammy. "As a manager, you have to make decisions that are not going to be liked by all. It wasn't personal, just business."
Tammy's team went on to win subsequent tasks and enjoy numerous rewards. A white truffles dinner valued at $4,000 a pound was flown in from Italy. Her team partnered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation® and Toys 'R Us to take an eight-year-old girl on a shopping spree. She also enjoyed breakfast with New York Senator Charles Schumer, composing song lyrics with Burt Bacharach and making her own signature bottle of wine at a Long Island winery.
Tammy held on for 12 weeks of the interview process before being fired for failure to motivate her teammates during the Xbox 360/Walmart promotion task.
As a collegian at Arizona State University, Tammy worked as a waitress, served as Gamma Pi chapter's house manager and tried to be involved with the chapter as much as possible.
"When I went to Arizona State, I did not know a soul. I came from Edison, N.J., wanted to join a sorority for a support system and found Alpha Phi. The process of having my sisters available was a good transition for me to become an independent person," says Tammy.
The importance of philanthropy from her collegiate years helped shape her persona on "The Apprentice" and in her life. Tammy credits Alpha Phi for helping her become a better and stronger role model for women. She even founded the Theresa Kathryn Foundation, a public charity supporting women and women's causes, which hosted its first charity event in June 2006. The foundation was named after her late grandmother. Five "Apprentice" candidates attended the event in support of Tammy and the foundation.
Tammy's life is intricately entwined with Alpha Phi friendships. Her best friend Amy Block (Gamma Pi-Arizona State), sister Suzanne Trenta Rispoli (Theta Theta-Michigan State) and a few other friends are members of Alpha Phi.
While in college, Tammy developed a kidney stone, and it was Amy who rushed her to an emergency room. During the entire ordeal, Tammy recalls Amy trying to cheer her to take her mind off the pain. Amy even took rubber gloves and blew them up like balloons to decorate the hospital room, Tammy says. The two women were laughing hysterically when the doctor came in and did not appear to notice what they had done. Amy also stayed up and waited by Tammy's side the entire night and then drove her home.
During filming, Tammy found that she could not confide in anyone on the show, so she kept quiet and wrote her thoughts in a journal. "You start on teams, but it's really every man or woman for him or herself," says Tammy. "The more you talk, the more airtime you get on the show. Contestants will be very manipulative just so they can get through to the next week."
Tammy, however, chose not be vocal. Sisters have supported Tammy throughout her nationally-televised job interview by sending her e-mail expressing how she set a good example for women on the show.
Late in the season, television audiences were thrown a plot twist: love on The Apprentice. Teammates Sean Yazbeck and Tammy were caught on camera holding hands and hugging while walking through New York City during one of their tasks. Sean even publicly declared his adoration for her in one episode saying "Tammy baby, that was for you, darling," referring to his desire to win The Apprentice to get back at two former teammates who had ganged up on Tammy to get her fired. In a video commentary, Sean had indicated hope of "[having] a lot of 'Apprentice' babies" with Tammy. He was very vocal about his feelings toward her and eventually gave her the diamond he had won earlier in the season.
During the live season finale, Donald Trump asked Tammy whether Sean, who was one of the two final candidates on the show, was going to marry her. Sean had replied "yes" on her behalf. Trump then joked about Sean having gotten a new job and a fiancée in the process. The morning after the show aired, journalists bombarded Tammy with phone calls to confirm whether she and Sean were indeed engaged. "Things were blown out of proportion," says Tammy. "We see each other whenever we can. Sean just moved to New York from Florida [for his apprenticeship], so we don't spend much time together. He has been to L.A. twice, and we have had dinner together and hung out."
Monday Morning Test
Tammy is vice president of wealth management for AG Edwards in Beverly Hills, Calif., focusing on high profile clients. Additionally, Tammy is founder and CEO of Theresa Kathryn, Inc., a company that designs stylish briefcases for women. The company donates a portion of the proceeds to the Theresa Kathryn Foundation. She co-owns the family-run operation with her younger sister, Suzanne, who Tammy says shares her same level of passion, commitment, trust and motivation, and that makes their business successful.
Tammy is also a certified financial planner and has made educational and inspirational speaking appearances at professional, non-profit and business conferences.
One of the experiences Tammy took away from "The Apprentice" came during her team's breakfast with Sen. Schumer. The senator had explained that he gives himself a test every Monday morning to see if he is truly happy and passionate about his profession by asking himself if he is excited about getting up and going to work. If so, he knows he is on the correct path.
"I believe in the Monday morning test," says Tammy. "Even on Sunday night I'm excited about what I do, and I can't wait to get up in the morning."
For more information on Tammy, visit www.tammytrenta.com.
For more information on "The Apprentice," visit www.nbc.com/The_Apprentice_5/.
Sisters of Alpha Phi receive a 20% discount on Theresa Kathryn products by entering discount code "Alpha Phi" at checkout on www.theresakathryn.com.