Carey Sherrell, <EM>The Apprentice</EM> Carey Sherrell, The Apprentice

When How I Met Your Mother's Barney tells a guy to "suit up," he probably doesn't mean for a fella to pour himself into snug, pink Spandex swimwear. Alas, that is precisely what Atlanta marketing whiz Carey Sherell did on NBC's The Apprentice, resulting with Donald Trump declaring his taste in fashion a total wipeout. But is the Donald's gaydar simply out of whack? And was Carey edited to look like more of a diva than he actually is? spoke to him the day after his ouster. Nearly none of it made it through editing, but there was reference made in the boardroom to your tailoring the pink suit to Trina Turk's gay customers. I was wondering if you could elaborate on that strategy.
Carey Sherrell: We were at the Trina Turk boutique, where we had a chance to speak to one of her assistants, and we realized they had a store in Palm Springs. Well, like 70 percent of the male consumers who shop in Palm Springs are gay, so in designing the concept for the swimwear line, we knew we had to do something that appealed to all her consumers, and not really appeal to the mainstream buyers [who decide the task's outcome]. You did seem a bit stubborn in fighting for the suit you wound up modeling. When all was said and done, you didn't change the cut or the color....
Carey: That's bad editing. You can talk to anybody who was there. I was just on the phone with James, and he was like, "Man, they made it look like you just went with the suit," and that's not the case. In the end, as Nicole said, we all took a calculated risk, and everyone was involved in that. But the editing made me look like I was saying, "We're doing the suit no matter what!" I was surprised at the minimal airtime given to the actual strategizing and preparation. They made it seem like you spent 45 minutes designing the suits, and then put them on the runway show.
Carey: I know! It was about 30 hours of work, and we didn't really go to sleep. We were working on a really crazy timeline, so once a suit came out of production, the choice was to either stick with it or not have a suit [to show]. If we wanted to change something, we had little or no time to do it. Did you really think you could sell Michelle as the one to be fired? Or were you grasping at straws?
Carey: No, you'll see. It has yet to be proven, but Michelle is a disaster. Really? I've seen truly destructive team members over the past seasons, and I'm not getting that vibe from her.
Carey: She has this ability to stifle creativity, and she's negative.... It will come to pass. She's not going to last long, I don't think. Now, does she look as much like Jaime Pressly in person as she does on TV?
Carey: She really does! [Laughs] Everybody kept saying Jaime Pressly, and I had never seen Jaime Pressly before. But then I caught My Name Is Earl, and she definitely looks like Jaime Pressly. In retrospect, what would you have done differently?
Carey: Nothing. The fact of the matter is that [the gay consumer] is a market, and no consumer should be overlooked. If that's the kind of people who shop at a store, then they need to be respected and offered something that they want. I'm not in the business of overlooking people — I'm in marketing, and if the demographics say something, then that's what we do. We had that information, but you didn't see that. It looked like, "Gay guy goes crazy and designs a crazy suit," and that's sad. We acted on the information we had. Again, we took a risk, but if you've been to a Trina Turk boutique, you'll see that her clothes are risky. They're not clothes you'll see in mainstream America. Who would you say is a player to watch?
Carey: James is stellar. He's the one I first got to know, and we became really great friends. I think he will go far. Lastly, what's next for you?
Carey: We are going head-to-head with Trump by showing him that there is a marketplace for that "loser bathing suit," as he called it. We're designing some suits right now, and is the name of the line. We're going to show Trump that we are a force to be reckoned with. Feb. 1 is the launch date, and it will be really cool stuff, with cool people behind it.

Reality-TV fans, Justin Guarini previews the new season of American Idol on this week's The 411, airing on TV Guide Channel. Click here for days and times.

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