NIU marketing alumnus Dean DeBiase and billionaire Donald Trump reminisced a bit over old times Sunday, April 8, when DeBiase appeared on Trump’s show, “The Celebrity Apprentice.”
DeBiase was there on behalf of Entertainment.com, where he serves as chairman and CEO.
The 1980 College of Business alum challenged the show’s contestants to create a 60-second commercial for the company’s new service for online and mobile couponing.
Before the cameras got rolling, however, DeBiase reminded Trump that the two had spoken before.
In 2004, DeBiase played the role of Trump in The NIU Marketing Apprentice, a class the NIU College of Business modeled after Trump’s show. The similarity was almost too much for Trump’s lawyers.
“We were nervous when they called,” said DeBiase. But the NIU Marketing Apprentice team sprang into action and talked to Trump directly about how they were thoughtfully adopting key components of the show into the new popular NIU class.
“Rather than jumping all over us for blatantly copying his brand and TV show, he instead told us that it was a gutsy move, and then agreed to talk to the class,” DeBiase said. “When he called, that was a pivotal learning moment for those students, taking ‘Where the Classroom Meets the Business World’ to a whole new level.”
Trump even spotlighted the class on his weekly radio show, propelling it into the national spotlight.
When DeBiase reminded Trump about their conversation, The Donald” recalled it well, saying, “NIU … terrific school, great kids!”
DeBiase’s challenge for the current cast of celebrity contestants helped to spark some fireworks of its own, prompting one of the most intense boardroom showdowns ever between teammates. The episode can be viewed online.