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Boardroom manner belies aide's warmth



Published: Sat, April 9, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



Carolyn Kepcher surprises people who only know her from the hit show.

BY TERRY MORROW

SCRIPPS HOWARD NEWS SERVICE

Carolyn Kepcher doesn't bite after all.

She knows that stony glare and buttoned-up style she projects on "The Apprentice" as Donald Trump's boardroom aide can be a little off-putting when she's in public. People are a bit intimidated about approaching her.

"I do get that," she says. "It's very funny. Most people, after they meet me, they say, 'Oh, gosh, you're nothing like I imagined.' People see me in one setting, in a very serious boardroom situation, so it's hard to see me in any other situation, I suppose."

Kepcher is 36, married and the mother of two. One child begins kindergarten soon. During an interview, she laughs and says "thank you" after compliments.

In other words, she's warm.

Manages golf courses

"The Apprentice" (which can be seen at 9 p.m. Thursdays on NBC) is only one of her jobs.

She is also the chief operating officer and general manager for the Trump National Golf Club in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y., and the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, N.J.

She has been with the Trump Organization since 1994, and currently oversees day-to-day operations of more than 250 employees at both golf properties. She is a key player in the development of future Trump golf properties in New York and California.

Somehow, she manages it all. But how does she find the time for her family?

"I do that on the side," she deadpans.

More seriously: "I try to set my priorities, and I have incredible people that I work with. I have an incredible family who allows me to do this.

"Sometimes I can go a little stir-crazy, but that's OK. I try not to let [the careers] get to me too much, and I mean that as a positive and a negative. I try to stay even-keeled."

On the hit reality show, Kepcher is The Donald's extra eyes and ears. She witnesses the ups and downs of contestants and reports back on what happened during challenges.

"It was a little intimidating at first [working for Trump]," she says. "I know I worked twice as hard, twice as long, just to prove myself. I put that pressure on myself, and that's OK."

Making decisions

And now? "I am a lot more confident of who I am and what I am doing. I have better management skills. I have better decision-making skills," she says. "A lot of things I learned not only through Donald but [just from] working the 10 years that I have.

"I have learned a couple of things from [Trump]. I have learned to be positive in decision-making. Sometimes, people need to make a decision, and they need to make it now.

"Some people are afraid to make that decision because they may be wrong, but I'd rather make a decision and be wrong than not make a decision at all. Or, I'd rather make a decision than decide by consensus."

When she started with Trump, she wasn't so sure about decisions. Kepcher says experience and time have helped her become more confident.

But still, working for Trump means "you've got to have thick skin."




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