The former nightclub owner gets the ax for his lousy negotiating with music stars

By Stephen M. Silverman
Updated March 11, 2005 08:00 AM

Telling John Gafford of the street-smart Net Worth team, “You let me down,” Donald Trump said in his accusatory manner, “You just did a terrible job of negotiating.”

So it was curtains on Thursday night’s Apprentice for the former nightclub owner, 32, who’d talked up his self-professed rapport with recording artists – until he botched a series of negotiations with such top music stars as Barenaked Ladies, Gene Simmons, New Found Glory, Simple Plan and Fat Joe.

The episode’s challenge – to raise money for the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation with an on-air auction over cable’s Fuse music channel – followed Trump’s reorganizing the two teams, which swapped two members each. (Five on each side.) This way the street-smart got to mix with the book-smart Magna team.

The teams negotiated with each group or artist for a personal experience to be auctioned off on the air – and whoever raised the most money for the charity would win.

When the dust settled, Net Worth brought in $11,325. But Magna made $21,654, attributed largely to the week-long experiences the team managed to secure.

Back in the boardroom, John said that the other team won because it was lucky. Then came the complaints about him. George said John didn’t ask for big enough personal experiences – and blew a great opportunity with Simmons. Erin and Stephanie also said John wasted time with artists by talking about himself.

Trump didn’t need to hear much more. He told John, “You’re fired.”