In 2004, Donald Trump joined forces with NBC to produce and star in the TV reality show The Apprentice. Contestants compete for a dream job with The Trump Organization and a hefty six-figure salary. When the show premiered on January 8, 2004, it immediately became a cultural phenomenon. The fabled New York department store Bloomingdales almost immediately began marketing a "You're Fired" T-shirt line, attempting to cash in on the line that Trump delivers to one contestant at the end of each episode. In March of 2004, looking to gain a monopoly on this powerful catchphrase, Trump filed a copyright request with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Ironically, Trump was himself fired from the show in 2015 after making derogatory comments about Mexican immigrants.
Legendary business man and Hollywood producer Samuel Goldwyn was born in Warsaw in 1882, with the name Schmuel Gelbfisz. At age 15, after his father died, he left home, and when he emigrated to England, his name was anglicized to Samuel Goldfish. When, along with the famous theatrical Selwyn family, he formed Goldwyn Pictures in 1917, he liked the name so much that he legally changed his name to Samuel Goldwyn. He was instrumental in forming not one, but two of the largest Hollywood studios: Paramount Pictures and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. He was also a founding member of the Society of Independent Motion Picture Producers.
Texas billionaire H. Ross Perot ran for President of the United States in 1992 as an independent candidate and won approximately 19% of the vote, an impressive feat for an independent. He ran again in 1996 on the Reform Party ticket but was less successful, taking only 8% of the vote.
In 1976, Steve Jobs, along with fellow computer enthusiast Steve Wozniak, founded Apple Computer. With the launch of the Apple II and Apple Macintosh, the company would quickly become a major player in the personal computer industry. Jobs left Apple in 1985 to found NeXT Computer, and in 1986 he purchased Pixar from LucasFilm. Pixar would prove to be just as successful as Apple, producing such hits as Toy Story, Monsters Inc., and Finding Nemo. In 1997, Jobs returned to a floundering Apple and returned the company to prosperity, largely due to the introduction of the iMac, iPod, and iPhone.
On July 16, 2004, Martha Stewart, founder of Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc., was sentenced to five months in prison as part of a stock fraud case. She was also fined $30,000 and sentenced to two years supervised probation. Stewart had been charged with obstructing justice in regards to the government's investigation into whether she had inside information when she sold approximately 4,000 shares of drug-maker ImClone a day before the Food and Drug Administration rejected ImClone's application for a cancer drug.
In 1966, Howard Hughes reserved the top two floors of the Desert Inn Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas for 10 days. When co-owners Moe Dalitz and Ruby Kolad realized that they could make more money renting the rooms to gamblers, they asked Hughes to leave. The eccentric billionaire resolved the issue by purchasing the Desert Inn for $13.25 million -- about twice its market value. Hughes then went on a casino buying spree, purchasing the Sands, the Castaways, the Silver Slipper, and the Frontier. He attempted to buy the Stardust but was prevented from finalizing the deal by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission which was concerned about Hughes having a monopoly on Las Vegas hotels.
Celebrity investor and entrepreneur Warren Buffett began his illustrious career by collecting and selling lost golf balls. He also worked as a paper boy for the Washington Post. At the age of eleven he began playing the stock market with one of his sisters, and in high school he founded a pinball machine business that earned him about fifty dollars a week. In 1956, at the age of 25, Buffett started his own investment firm, the Buffett Partnership. His company, Berkshire Hathaway, has grown from about $8 a share when he began acquiring its stock in the 1960s to over $90,600 as of 2005 when he was ranked as the second richest man in the world. Warren Buffett is considered by many experts to be the greatest investor in American history.
In 1996, celebrity entrepreneur and talk show host Oprah Winfrey was sued by a group of Texas cattle producers after doing a show on the topic of mad cow disease, an illness in cattle that slowly destroys brain tissue, eventually causes death, and can be transmitted to humans who eat diseased beef. During the show one of her guests criticized the U.S. practice of feeding processed livestock to cattle, something which had been linked to an outbreak of the disease in Europe. Horrified by what she was hearing, Oprah told the audience that her guest's comments had "stopped me cold from eating another burger!" A Texas jury found Oprah not guilty of causing the cattle producers any harm and the charges were dismissed. After the trial, Winfrey told reporters, "Free speech not only lives, it rocks!"
According to Forbes Magazine, Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates was the richest person in the world in 2004 with a net worth of $46.5 billion. It was the 11th year in a row that Gates had held the top spot. Warren Buffett was right behind him with $44 billion.
As a young man, George Lucas aspired to be a race car driver, but a near fatal automobile accident days before his high school graduation convinced him he should seek his fortune in some other field. So he decided to attend community college where he developed an obsession with cinematography. He was eventually accepted into the University of Southern California's filmmaking school and the rest is history. Lucas went on to make such classic films as American Graffiti, Raiders of the Lost Ark, and of course Star Wars.