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‘Apprentice’ finalist gives Chesy teens business tips

CHESAPEAKE — Maybe the message wasn’t of Biblical proportions, but the way Troy McClain ended up sharing his business acumen with some Chesapeake teens Tuesday morning did follow one of the instructions in that good book.

It’s the one about asking and seeking, because seeking McClain, one of the first participants in the popular “The Apprentice” television show, as a speaker for his class is just what Chesapeake High business teacher Terry Kimball did.

Using Donald Trump’s show as a teaching tool over the past three years, Kimball saw how the students in his marketing class reacted to McClain who went far on the first season before Trump issued those infamous words, “You’re fired.”

“I’ve always believed in doing things with applications. Theory is great but if you can’t put it into application, what good is it,” Kimball said.

That’s why last week the marketing teacher emailed McClain asking if he would consider speaking via Skype from his home in Boise, Idaho, to his class. Within the morning McClain gave Kimball the nod and the technical details were all that was left to work out. McClain even waived his usual $17,000 fee for the school.

“He could do business in New York City, Atlanta, Chicago, but he chose to go back to Boise,” Kimball said. “If we could teach our kids that they can have a great education and then come back to the community.”

Growing up in massive poverty, knowing what it was like to be evicted seven times by the time he was a teen, McClain turned his life around, now running a multi-million consulting corporation.

Much of his early business philosophy came from reading Trump’s “The Art of the Deal,” where he learned the importance of MVP or mission, vision and purpose, he told the teens.

“You guys need to define that going forward,” he said. “It was a message. A guy with a hairdo like that. If he could make money why couldn’t I. I wanted to get myself out from where we were at. There had got to be a better life, something passed working at a 7-11. If I could ever aim that high. If I aimed for the sky and hit a skyscraper, I’d be doing okay.”

What he learned from the school of hard knocks has become his mantra: Look beyond the obvious.

It was a lesson he gained from his mother after she adopted his younger sister, who is profoundly deaf and developmentally disabled. She told him that the child would add more to their lives than they ever would to hers.

“It took me 33 years to realize what she was talking about,” he said.

Today by taking a new slant on existing problems, McClain can tout a list of consulting clients from Trump to Beyonce to Bill Gates.

“There is no secret portion, no magic sauce,” he said. “Just set a goal and stay on task.”