Successful ‘Apprentice returns to HHS

Randal Pinkett shares his secrets of success

By: Katie Jasion
   HIGHTSTOWN — From child proprietor of a fledgling lemonade stand to Donald Trump’s newest "Apprentice," Randal Pinkett has made it in the world of business, and is sharing his success story with others.
   Mr. Pinkett, a 1989 graduate of Hightstown High School, spoke at his alma mater Wednesday morning at an assembly sponsored by the school’s Future Business Leaders of America club.
   "What’s up Hightstown High School?" Mr. Pinkett yelled to the audience as he received thunderous applause welcoming him back.
   Mr. Pinkett’s accomplishments range much farther than his current reign as winner of the NBC-TV show "The Apprentice." He is the co-founder, president and CEO of BCT Partners, a management, technology and policy-consulting firm based in Newark. He also holds five academic degrees and was the first African-American to receive a Rhodes Scholarship at Rutgers University.
   "As Donald Trump put it, Randal has more degrees than a thermometer," said teacher Ray Clark, Mr. Pinkett’s former basketball coach, in a speech introducing the alumnus.
   Mr. Pinkett, who grew up in Twin Rivers, spoke fondly of his high school days. He joked about his winning performance in a lip-syncing contest, in which he performed a ballad by musical group New Edition. He also cited his favorite high school memory as playing for the school’s varsity basketball team during his senior year.
   "There was a great camaraderie amongst the members of the team," he said.
   Above all, Mr. Pinkett said he was most proud of his academic career at the school. He made the honor roll every semester and later obtained a full academic scholarship to Rutgers.
   "This high school was preparing me for experiences that I never could have imagined," he said.
   He urged students to find their passions and accredited his own success to his involvement in projects he was passionate about.
   Mr. Pinkett also warned students not to let prior experiences limit future experiences.
   "I once heard someone say failure is meeting the man or woman you could have been," he said.
   At the moment, Mr. Pinkett is co-writing a book about the experiences of black people in predominantly white institutions. As the new "Apprentice," he will be in charge of renovating three Trump casinos in Atlantic City and he also recently filmed a commercial.
   "I’ve been blessed with a lot of media opportunities," he said.
   He said he also has relished the many opportunities he has had recently to inspire young people through public speaking.
   "I think he’s an inspiration to everyone at Hightstown High School," said junior Amy Patel.
   Sumit Agrawal of the Future Business Leaders of America club enjoyed Mr. Pinkett’s speech.
   "My favorite part was when he said you’ve got to stick to your goals no matter how many times you fail," said Sumit, a senior who helped plan the event and plans to attend the University of Sciences in Philadelphia as a pharmaceutical marketing major next fall.
   After the assembly, Mr. Pinkett greeted his fans at a reception in the school’s library.
   "It’s one of the biggest things that’s ever happened to Hightstown," said Kim Connell, a junior, as she waited with a crowd of students to get Mr. Pinkett’s autograph.
   Mr. Pinkett’s former teachers also looked on in approval as he was bombarded by students.
   "He was always light years ahead, academically," said Mr. Clark.
   Mr. Pinkett said it felt "wonderful" to be back at his former school.
   "I couldn’t be prouder to be a graduate of Hightstown High School," he said as he left the reception.