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NIU business alum DeBiase will appear Sunday on NBC’s ‘Celebrity Apprentice’ reality TV show

April 5, 2012
Dean DeBiase and Donald Trump

Dean DeBiase and Donald Trump

Northern Illinois University College of Business alumnus Dean DeBiase will appear Sunday, April 8, on NBC’s “The Celebrity Apprentice.”

The last time DeBiase was connected with “The Apprentice,” he was the one at the head of the table telling contestants, “You’re fired.”

That was in 2004, when he and two other alums filled the role of Donald Trump as part of The NIU Marketing Apprentice. That class, based on Trump’s hit show, had teams of students competing against one another for scholarship money.

On “The Celebrity Apprentice,” DeBiase will play himself – the chairman and CEO of, which recently launched a mobile phone app that allows members to find and take advantage of discounts, promotions and coupons at participating businesses.

He will be tasking the teams of celebrities with creating a 60-second commercial for his company, and will ultimately choose the winner of that competition.

One reason he agreed to appear on the show, he says, were his memories of the NIU competition.

That class got headlines around the nation, and Trump used his weekly radio spot to praise the program. The Donald even took the time to speak with participants of the class via conference call to encourage them in their efforts.

DeBiase graduated from the NIU College of Business in 1980 with a degree in marketing.

He has been chief executive of more than a dozen private and public corporations and Fortune 500 subsidiaries, including TNS Media, where he orchestrated a roll-up of advertising, entertainment, digital media and social networking groups that was subsequently acquired by WPP. He also has served as CEO of Autoweb, which he took public, and built into one of the top web brands and merged with Autobytel.

In addition, DeBiase was CEO of The Imagination Network, a social media games company that was acquired by AOL.

“The Celebrity Apprentice” airs at 8 p.m. Sundays on NBC.