“We kinda need somebody to do all of it,” he recalls. “Then we started speaking about whether we should and go and find someone formally educated, with the Ivy League degree, that is already going through their corporate training. Or will we go and grab somebody who just really had great instincts because they’re educated by the school of hard knocks?” Then T.I. had a realization: “Man, that would be a dope show.”
Starting July 19th, that’s exactly what it will be—in the form of the new reality program The Grand Hustle on BET. The 51 Minds-produced show will follow 16 contestants as they vie for a full-time gig working for T.I., complete with a six-figure salary, across a dozen hourlong episodes that take place in Atlanta. T.I. will serve as both a star and executive producer on the show, along with fellow EPs Brian Sher, Christian Sarabia, Vinnie Kaufman and Johnny Petillo.
If this sounds like The Apprentice, that’s because it is. Petillo served as a producer on Donald Trump’s former reality show, and on Survivor, the genre’s seminal series—created by Mark Burnett, the man behind The Apprentice. T.I. is well aware of the connections to the President, who is not exactly the rapper’s favorite person. In fact, when asked how The Grand Hustle will differ from The Apprentice, T.I. acknowledges Trump while refusing to use his name.
“I am probably the most approachable, least scary blue-collar multimillionaire mogul that you’ll meet,” he says. “The other guy, I think [he] led with fear and intimidation.”
This isn’t T.I.’s first reality rodeo. He’s been the focal point of programs including T.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle and T.I.’s Road To Redemption, both featuring many of the same producers set to work on The Grand Hustle. This is his first foray into a pure-play business reality show, though.
“As a champion of black entrepreneurship, T.I. is the natural choice for The Grand Hustle,” says Connie Orlando, EVP and Head of Programming at BET. “He’s made his mark in the music, film and fashion industries through several creative ventures and has built an empire. He truly embodies the ‘art’ of the hustle.”
T.I. says he’ll distinguish himself from Trump—and fellow hip-hop business reality show maven Diddy—by the way he interacts with the contestants. He emphasizes face-to-face, honest feedback and his plan to treat employees like family.
And T.I. can’t help himself from throwing in one last shot at the President’s communication skills.
“In each of these shows, you kind of have to list your perspective of how you want things done, why you want them done that way—so you can communicate that to the group, so they can take that and convey it in their execution,” he says, taking a very deliberate pause. “And you just kind of have to be articulate to do it.”
story via forbes.com