Lee Bienstock ’05 has made it to the final two on season five of The Apprentice, the NBC reality TV show featuring billionaire Donald Trump.
The 23-year old Brooklyn native will vie against 34-year old Sean Yazbeck, from London, for a coveted one-year, $250,000 contract to run one of Trump’s companies.
On Monday night’s episode, Bienstock and Yazbeck, of the show’s “Gold Rush” team, defeated Allie Jablon and Roxanne Wilson of “Synergy” on the night’s task of designing uniforms for Embassy Suites. As members of the losing team, Allie and Roxanne were sent to the boardroom, where Trump fires usually one candidate. After the two former allies turned on each other, however, Trump decided to fire them both for their disloyalty, only the third time this season he has fired two candidates on one show.
On next week’s episode, Monday night at 9 on NBC, Bienstock and Yazbeck will each be joined by a team of helpers from the 16 “fired” Apprentice candidates to aid them in their final task.
The hour-and-a-half season finale will air live from the Orpheum Theater in Los Angeles at 9 p.m. EST on Monday, June 5th.
And starting May 30, Cornellians and other Apprentice fans will have the opportunity to weigh in by voting for Bienstock or Yazbeck in a poll at the NBC Apprentice 5 website, the results of which will be presented to Trump at the final boardroom. People will also be able to submit questions for Trump to ask the candidates on the show.
“It’s really important that we get out the vote for Lee,” said friend Sima Greenbaum ’08. “Lee is a loyal guy who always stands up for his friends. It’s time for us to stand up for him.”
“Lee’s a competitor, but he also has a personal side,” added former roommate Jeremy Nikfarjam ’05. “I know that he still gets together with several people on the show, including Sean. What I admire about Lee is that he hasn’t let this experience go to his head. He’s still the same guy I knew at Cornell. I’m really proud of him.”
Bienstock’s friends haven’t been his only local fans.
“It’s ironic, because I always used to joke that our PAM students should be on The Apprentice because they are a lot more on the ball than most of the previous candidates,” quipped Prof. Kara Joyner, policy analysis and management, with whom Bienstock took three courses. “So, I’m not surprised at all that Lee has done as well as he has. He always went way beyond the assignment for me. He gives 150 percent every time. And he works really well with teams of people. I think he has a great shot in the finals.”
“We’re all very excited for Lee,” said Prof. Sam Beck, who taught Bienstock in the College of Human Ecology’s Urban Semester Program. “Lee is just innately intelligent. But unlike many smart people, he uses his intelligence wisely. And he also benefits from a golden personality. He’s very honest in a disarming way. Lee must have a wonderful family to have produced somebody like him.”
Bienstock’s family, of course, is elated.
“We’re so proud of him,” said mother Flora Bienstock. “We always knew he had these amazing leadership qualities and that he would do great things because he’s a hard worker and always looks at the grand picture. And from a young age, he was very understanding of people who needed help and wanted to do whatever he could to make them feel good about themselves. I think Lee has shown what a powerful candidate he is. But we really need everyone’s help. We’re urging everyone to vote and not to take anything for granted. I’ll tell you: I’m a nervous wreck right now.”
Bienstock earned a 4.0 GPA in the College of Human Ecology and graduated with a degree in Policy Analysis and Management. He currently lives in New York City, where he works for Accenture, one of the largest management consulting firms in the world.