Book: "Take Command"
"10 Leadership Principles I Learned in the Military and Put to Work for Donald Trump"

Kelly Perdew
Winner, "The Apprentice 2"
Monday, January 23, 2006 11:00 AM

"The Apprentice 2" winner Kelly Perdew was online Monday, Jan. 23, at 11 a.m. ET to discuss his new book, "Take Command: 10 Leadership Principles I Learned in the Military and Put to Work for Donald Trump," his new business ventures and his life since the show.

Audio: Perdew talks about life after "The Apprentice."

The transcript follows.

In "Take Command," Perdew highlights ten principles he learned at West Point and as an Army Ranger that have served him in his business ventures and most recently helped him succeed on "The Apprentice." Perdew, who is currently at work on a new business venture with Donald Trump, describes how adhering to concepts like duty, passion, perseverance, planning and teamwork helped him beat out stiff competition on "The Apprentice." Contributors from Ross Perot to Roger Staubach add insights on parallels between military leadership and business success.

Find out more about "Take Command," on sale Jan. 23.

Read more comments on Kelly's forum


Topeka, Kan.: Now that you have spent some time in the Trump organization, what areas of the business would you like to gravitate toward?

Kelly Perdew: I'm an entrepreneur at heart and love starting and growing businesses. That's what I'll always do!


Arlington, Va.: On a personal level, was it hard to move from San Diego to New York City? Is the business atmosphere different on each coasts? Do you plan to stay in New York for a long time?

Kelly Perdew: New York is a great city and the people have welcomed me with open arms. I don't know how long I'll stay here, but I definitely miss the beaches and the weather!


Harrisburg, Pa.: Many private organizations have found benefits from a military style of organization. Chains of command and flow of information are clear. Yet, a complain in the private sector is these military type models can be too rigid and that the private sector demands more flexibility and thinking outside of the box. How would you recommend reconciling this?

Kelly Perdew: I disagree. All good plans (including military plans!) have flexibility built into them. You can call it scenario planning, contingency planning or whatever, but every good military planner includes this. In fact, "Flexibility" is one of the key leadership principles I discuss in my book, TAKE COMMAND.


Silver Spring, Md.: Do you keep in touch with any of your cast mates?

Kelly Perdew: I do keep in touch with many of them. I'm good friends with Ivana and with Kevin. I went to both of their weddings. I also see Andy, Maria and Sandy a lot.


Alexandria, Va.: Hi Kelly. I hope your book does well.

You probably won't say, but I just have to ask: Is Trump's hair real?

Kelly Perdew: Ha! Everyone asks me that question...and I never answer. :)


Washington, D.C.: How much interaction do you have with Donald Trump on a weekly basis?

Kelly Perdew: Donald has a VERY open door policy. I see him every couple of weeks, but could see him on a daily basis if needed. I work very closely with George and communicate with him at least every week. It is a great organization.


Arlington, Va.: Any thoughts on Randall's decision not to share his win with Rebecca? Do you approve of his choice?

Kelly Perdew: I would have gone the other way. Rebecca wanted to work on the other project and you could tell Mr. Trump liked her a lot. Besides, based on the show, it appeared that they both had a lot of respect for one another.


Arlington, Va.: You haven't appeared much in The Apprentice since winning. Why is that? Will you be showing up more often in the upcoming season?

Kelly Perdew: I've learned a lot from Donald and have been thinking BIG! I've been very busy working on a lot of great things. My book, TAKE COMMAND, launches today. I'm hosting a show on the Discovery Channel called "GI Factory" that premieres in March. I'm raising a VC fund to help entrepreneurs finance their ventures. I'm getting a new business off the ground with Donald. And I'm spending some time helping some very worthwhile charities. Big Brothers/Sisters (, The National Guard Youth Challenge Program (, and I'm donating a percentage of my book proceeds to the USO (


Washington, D.C.: What role does "luck" or "chance" play in your success?

Kelly Perdew: I think it was Thomas Jefferson who said, "I find the harder I work, the luckier I get." :) I feel incredibly fortunate to have the opportunities I do and I also work very hard. The trick is to combine something you love to do, with something that you can make a living at. Once you understand what you really want in life and combine those two'll be successful (however YOU define success). The chapter on "Passion" in my book covers this!


Alexandria, Va.: Many people have the impression (rightfully so, I think) that Donald Trump is very arrogant and self-promoting. Is this all an image he tries to give off, or is he really that self-confident? What is he like in person, without any cameras?

Kelly Perdew: Donald is extremely confident and passionate about everything he does. And he is also very funny. He actually makes fun of himself a lot and I don't think that comes across on the show. I've enjoyed working with him and have learned so much about real estates as well as marketing and branding.


Maryland: Do you think winning the Apprentice and the things that the contestants to through on that show are realistic examples of how people make it in today's business world? How real is reality TV?

Kelly Perdew: The Apprentice definitely tests many facets of a candidates business savvy. The one thing that is not wholly accurate is the zero sum game aspect. Although we do compete on teams throughout the show, there is only one winner. That sets up a little different dynamic than you normally have in a business environment. But make no mistake, what you saw on the show is what actually happened. It is "real" as far as that goes.


College Park, Md.: Do you do motivational speaking?

Kelly Perdew: I very much enjoy speaking to large groups. One of the things I got very comfortable doing in the military! My speaking bureau is Greater Talent Network and you can find them on my Web site in the TEAM section.


Fairfax, Va.: You're a former military man, what do you think we should do in Iraq?

Kelly Perdew: That is a very tough question for a "chat." My youngest brother deployed with the 3rd ID as a scout platoon leader and completed over 150 missions including 20+ in combat. I have to say it was a very scary time for me and my family and I know many families are going through the same thing today and I feel for them. I've also visited the wounded soldiers at Walter Reed with the USO and it affected me deeply. It was very humbling. But I believe that we can accomplish some great things for the people of Iraq (with their assistance) that will eventually be very, very good for them and for the US.


Washington, D.C.: Kelly, I work as an undergraduate admissions officer in Washington, D.C. and speak to a large number of high school students who are aspiring to do undergraduate business studies and to enter the job market. What advice would you give 18 year olds who aspire to go into business? In your opinion, how can they maximize their undergraduate education both inside and outside the classroom to prepare themselves for the business world?


Kelly Perdew: That's a great question and would take a lot of time to fully answer. Without sounding like I'm selling I'd urge them to read my book. I wrote the book for three reasons: 1. Educate corporate America about the valuable leadership skills that vets can bring to their organizations. 2. Help reassure the thousands of service men and women exiting the military every year that they have the skills to pay the bills. 3. (And this is to your point) Assist everyone out there (not just ex-military) in developing and augmenting their existing leadership skills. Probably the most important thing for kids entering college to do is learn as much as possible and start planning early.


Washington, D.C.: Please tell us more about your new show on the Military Channel. What is it about and when did they approach you to do it? How many seasons are you signed on for?

Kelly Perdew: Here is the link to the GI Factory site:

We travel all over the US and go into the factories where they build the weapons, vehicles and equipment for our troops. I get to meet and interview all the hard-working factory workers that take so much pride and passion in what they are doing. It premieres on March 24 at 8 p.m. on The Military Channel.


Sterling, Va.: If you feel you have the work ethic, ambition, the right attitude, and some brains to be successful, to what end does this really fulfill you in life? It seems people who are successful want to be more successful and there doesn't seem to be an end. Your thoughts?

Kelly Perdew: Great question. Every person has to define their own success. Always reaching and never being fulfilled doesn't = happiness, does it? There is a great Web site where my blog is located that focuses on just these issues. The company is called Zaadz and my good friend founded it. Here is my blog link:

You have to answer the question about what makes you happy and then figure out how to get there. Be careful not to let others define your happiness!


Washington, D.C.: When does your contract end with Trump and do you expect to stay on past the one year mark?

Kelly Perdew: My contract ended on Dec. 16 when Randall was hired. However, Donald and I agreed that I would stay on board through the end of March to get the new company launched that I started with him -- I'm also raising a Venture Capital Fund called Angel-Led Venture Partners ( where we co-invest with leading angel groups across the US in early stage ventures. I love helping entrepreneurs. You can learn more about all of this on my Web site


Bristow, Va.: Do you think Army will finally beat Navy this coming football season? From an USMA '89 classmate

Kelly Perdew: Ouch! Now why would you bring that up? We just beat them in basketball so I'm looking forward to making it happen on the gridiron next December!



Alexandria, Va.: Kelly, How did you like filming the "Today's Military" commercial? How important do you think your military service influenced the "Kelly Perdew" we see today?

Kelly Perdew: The commercial was a lot of fun. I got to get back in the mud, a zodiac raft and a blackhawk! More importantly, Donald and I delivered a very important message..."Once you serve in Today's Military, you can handle anything." I really believe that. Obviously, it is a tough recruiting environment, but I believe strongly in all that the military has done for me, 3 of my 4 younger brothers, all the cadets I've seen make it through the National Guard Youth Challenge Program, and all the vets I've been lucky enough to work with.


Burke, Va.: Good morning Mr. Perdew,

Leadership is one of those terms that most folk think they know what it means until pressed to provide a definition. How do you define leadership?

Kelly Perdew: Pete Dawkins, one of the business icons I interviewed for my book TAKE COMMAND, summed it up best:

"Leadership is the ability to motivate others to action."


Fairfax, Va.: Of your ten principles, which three do you think are most important, in what order, and why?

Kelly Perdew: INTEGRITY is the most important leadership principle. It defines who you are, it is your character.

Three other leadership characteristics that I think are very important (no, critical) to a leader and especially for entrepreneurs are PASSION, PERSEVERANCE, AND PLANNING. Every successful entrepreneur I know has an abundance of all three of these.


Arlington, Va.: Have you encountered any resentment among the people who work for you arising from your Apprentice experience? I.e., people who gripe that you started at the top, without working your way up through Trump's organization?

Kelly Perdew: The Trump Organization has been very open in taking me in. In general though, I think any time you enter a new position you are going to have some challenges. If you have the right attitude, work hard, be respectful of those around you, and'll be on the road to success.


Falls Church, Va.: When did you first become interested in (or passionate about!) business after your military career (as opposed to law enforcement, etc.) Had this been a long standing interest for you? Is there a network of former military who now work in business that you keep in touch with?

Kelly Perdew: While at West Point, I worked as an intern for the House Armed Services Committee in DC and since I had a Top Secret Security Clearance I was able to sit in on the mark-up hearings. I witnessed how laws were actually made! That planted the seed for both law and business. Once I got out of the Army I went to the JD/MBA program at UCLA. (The Anderson School is a great school for anyone that wants to be an entrepreneur!) There I realized that my true passion was growing companies.


Washington, D.C.: What are your professional/financial goals for the next 5, 10 and 20 years?

Kelly Perdew: I'm very excited about Angel-Led Venture Partners (, my new venture capital firm. Before this venture fund, I have only been able to help one or two companies at a time. Now that we'll be investing in 30+ companies, I'll have the ability to impact and grow many. I'm very much looking forward to making those companies successful over the coming years.


Kelly Perdew: If anyone has any other questions or comments about my book, TAKE COMMAND, please visit my forums at I look forward to reading your examples (both good and bad!) of leadership.

Good luck!



Arlington, Va.: One of Patton's key leadership principals was "to surround oneself with talented people". Do you agree?

Kelly Perdew: Absolutely! TEAMWORK is one of the key leadership principles in my book and I always try to surround myself with people who are smarter than I am! You won't be able to grow a company if you can't count on your team.


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