Stefanie Schaeffer trumps the competition
Oak Park resident wins 'Apprentice'
By Stephanie Bertholdo

Whether Stefanie Schaeffer purposely devised a strategy to fly under the radar of her fellow candidates on this season's "The Apprentice" and away from the firing squad in Donald Trump's board room, or is simply a poised, behind- the-scenes business professional who knows how to get the job done without ruffling any feathers, it doesn't matter. Schaeffer, a resident of Oak Park, was named Trump's sixth apprentice Sunday in a live production at the Hollywood Bowl.

The 32-year-old attorney made Apprentice history. Schaeffer never served as a task project manager during the course of the 13-week progrram, nor was she ever sent to the boardroom to face barbs from her fellow candidates vying for the same dream job or criticism from the Trump clan, that is until the final episode when the four finalists were paraded on stage and critiqued by "The Donald."

When it was over, Schaeffer was the only candidate not to hear those famous words: "You're fired."

A project manager is a leadership role on the show that allows Apprentice candidates to strut their creative, tough-as-nails stuff. Project managers, however, often are targeted with the most criticism from fellow candidates and often blamed for the group's failure. When Ivanka Trump asked Schaeffer whether she stayed out of the fray because it was "genius strategy or fear," Schaeffer answered, "I am fearless." "Behind every great director there's a great producer," Schaeffer said to Trump, who also worried about her low-key style. "You need someone sort of behind the scenes, moving everything along, making sure the whole big picture comes together, and that's where I come in," Schaeffer said.

Schaeffer was surprised at her victory "I was hopeful, yet I had no idea who would be the next Apprentice," Schaeffer said. "Actually, I sensed that Mr. Trump was leaning toward James." When the final "you're fired" was aimed at Sun, Schaeffer said she was stunned. "I was shocked, then ecstatic.. .sheer joy," she said. Schaeffer paired off with James Sun in the final challenge. The duo produced a 60-second ad for Renuzit air and fabric freshener. Ousted candidates Kristine Lefebvre and Heidi Bressler gave their vote of confidence to Schaeffer when Trump asked for their opinion. "I love a strong woman, and Stefanie is the epitome of a strong woman, Bressler said. "You don't have to scream the loudest to be the strongest," Lefebvre said of Schaeffer's low-key business style.

As Trump's newest apprentice, Schaeffer will oversee Trump at Capcana, a new luxury resort being built in the Dominican Republic and earn $250,000 per year in her new role.

Before Schaeffer heads out to the Caribbean, she was whisked to New York for a glitzy media tour only "The Donald" could command.

AFTER THE SHOW - Stefanie Schaeffer, above left, with Donald Trump Jr., Donald Trump and Ivanka Trump, the stars of this year's "Apprentice". Schaeffer wins $250,000 first-year salary with the company.
Photo courtesy Craig T. Mathew/Hollywood Bowl