Reality TV star talks serious business with students

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Bill Rancic spoke to a packed room of students in UIndy Hall about his rise to fame and how students can be successful, too. In his March 18 lecture, Rancic began by talking about his upbringing in suburban Chicago and said that he started his first business as an adolescent.

As a young entrepreneur, Rancic made pancakes and sold them to his neighbors. Rancic said he was making a fortune until his parents found out and made him stop.


Entrepreneur Bill Rancic speaks to a packed audience of students in UIndy Hall during his March 18 lecture. (Photo by Ben Zefeng Zhang)


Rancic described a time shortly after college when he was at work and witnessed a man getting fired. Rancic resolved never to let that happen to him and got an idea. He decided to start a cigar business with a friend. Rancic said that he advertised heavily, and, as a result, his business grew rapidly.

Rancic said that this made him dream of making it big and being invited to sit on Oprah’s famous couch.

“I just knew one day soon that I would be invited to the Oprah show, sitting next to her on the couch discussing my success,” he said.

Instead of making a guest appearance on the “The Oprah Winfrey Show,” Rancic said that he was on a show called “Dateless and Lonely for the Holiday.”

After seeing Rancic on “Dateless,” the producer of “The Apprentice,” Mark Barnett, contacted Rancic to ask him to compete on “The Apprentice.” Rancic said he was not allowed to tell his family where he was going for the 13 weeks. He said the production team told his family he was going to Cuba.

During his time on “The Apprentice,” Rancic said he experienced a high level of sleep deprivation and that he competed against some of the toughest competitors in show history­—Omarosa Manigault and Kelly Perdew.

“The show was something that I never would expect. Everybody seemed as if they were out for blood and were extremely competitive,” he said.

When Rancic quit his job to focus on his cigar business, he said his boss told him that he would keep his position available because he thought Rancic would be back.  Rancic said that his success partially stems from believing in himself back then.

“There will always be people that will say you can’t do it, and those are the same people that you must prove wrong,” he said.

Senior communication and experience design major Michele Bates organized the PRSSA event. She said that she was had a connection to Rancic through a friend of her father. He worked with Rancic’s manager to schedule the event.

Bates said that she was happy with the results and that she was excited to get to know Rancic on personal level.

“Everyone was so impressed with Bill’s speech and how down to earth he was.  After you speak with him, you honestly forget that Bill is in the public eye,” Bates said.  “He was so personable and seemed really excited to be at the University of Indianapolis.”


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