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American Chopper’s Paul Sr. Outsmarts on Celebrity Apprentice

When it was announced in January that Paul Teutul Sr. would be part of the 2012 Celebrity Apprentice cast there were more than a few curious comments posted online. How well could Paul Sr. do when much of his managerial style seems to involve yelling and screaming?

Now several weeks into Celebrity Apprentice and the strange news is that Paul Sr. is not only holding his own, he appears to be among the top players. Those who thought he would be quickly out of the game have been proven wrong.

Celebrity Apprentice

The Celebrity Apprentice includes individuals who have been in public view for some reason, usually for show business exposure, and then asked to handle a business task — typically a marketing effort to showcase an advertiser. In each weekly test the apprentices are divided into two teams, at the moment one male and one female, and led by the task manager. At the end of the show the efforts of each team are compared, often by the amount of money they took in from sales and contributions. The winner gets money for his or her charity while the loser — often the team leader — gets fired.

“Paul Sr. was the guy on a stupid show that just yells a lot and meant nothing to me,” magician Penn Jillette told TheDeadbolt website. “And he turned out to be a very good friend, really smart and savvy, and really kind and measured. I appreciated all of those things. That was kind of a shock.”

Jillette also told Deadbolt that “a lot of the other people on the show, I knew before and a lot of the people on the show acted in a way I could have predicted. But Paul Sr. was a surprise.”

How To Succeed

There are several tricks to success on the Celebrity Apprentice. First, you have to be a team player — at least initially. Then, each week, as a player is lopped off the show you can be more critical of your competitors.

Second, if possible, you hope that a potentially strong competitor is eliminated early. The reason is that strong competitors can cause you problems down the road while weak competitors will naturally fall by the wayside.

Third, each season presents a different set of group dynamics because new personalities are involved. In the early stages of the season it’s necessary to figure out the strengths and weaknesses of other players and to see where they can help you — and how they might lead to a firing.


There’s a lot of risk in being the project manager and so it was something of a surprise to see Paul Sr. unanimously selected as the men’s leader in the first episode. The task was to operate a delicatessen and sell as many sandwiches as possible. The team that sold the most sandwiches and raised the most money would be the winner and the team leader’s charity would get $35,000.

Tuetel’s charity was the Make-A-Wish Foundation and it had a very big evening. If you look at the task it was to sell sandwiches, but more importantly the task could be won by amassing the largest number of dollars. Tuetel got $35,000 from celebrity chef Rachael Ray, raised money through actual food sales and had an unnamed donor contribute $305,000. In total, Teutul took in $494,082 — a show record — and won the episode. On the losing team, model Cheryl Tiegs got tossed off the show.

In effect Paul Sr. outsmarted everybody. By becoming the manager on the first episode he took on the most risk for his team because when a team loses the manager is often the first to go. He was also very smart in lining up a massive donation to support him regardless of the task. The result was that no matter what the teams were required to do, if the men’s team performed even adequately they could succeed with a huge donation in hand.

The other thing that Paul Sr. did was to buy insurance and popularity for several shows going forward. He proved in the first episode that he could organize his team, that he could be successful, and that he could win. No other player on the men’s team would have that advantage in the second episode and going forward there would be fewer competitors on the men’s team as individuals were fired.

American Chopper

Did Teutul’s experience with American Chopper, his mortgage problems and the threatened OCC foreclosure help him win? Well sure. Paul Senior showed good organizational skills and had been successful enough in the past to know someone who would commit to a $305,000 donation. In other words, he went into the show with a plan and with the resources that no one else had.

You could also see this in Episode Three. Here the task was to design window displays for retailer Lord & Taylor. Paul Sr. was not into fashion, but he did have his Orange County Choppers machine signage that was so good Ivanka Trump wanted to keep it. This is the same equipment used to make custom motorcycle parts. That’s a smart use of resources unavailable to other players.

One of the questions that you come away with was whether Paul Jr. with Paul Jr Designs would have done as well. Imagine having the two of them on the same show. Imagine having the two of them on the same team. You can imagine a lot of yelling — and maybe a chance for them to re-establish a better relationship.

You can also see Paul Jr. as an easy team player but whether he could pull a $305,000 rabbit out of a donor’s hat is an open question.

Who will win this season? Penn Jillette has a good shot and so does Arsenio Hall. And after his performance so far, Paul Jr. remains in the game.

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