Former ‘Apprentice’ star dishes on God and getting fired

While Tarek Saab’s life has been less than predictable, there’s one thing he can always count on. Without fail, each time the former “Apprentice” contestant gives a speech, someone will ask, “Is Donald Trump’s hair real?” to which Saab will answer, “Yes, Donald’s hair is real, I believe. And it’s frightfully scary.”

Saab spoke to a modest-sized audience on Thursday night about his experiences as a contestant on the fifth season of “The Apprentice,” his personal journey in Catholic faith and how he constantly strives towards his vision of Catholic perfection.

Saab said that remaining on “The Apprentice” was a constant challenge. “I was in the boardroom a lot; I was almost fired often in the beginning of the show,” Saab said. “So I was a focal point of almost every single episode.” But Saab recovered his footing and he managed to last for a while until he was the 12th contestant to be fired.

“The most challenging thing about being on ‘The Apprentice’ was the criticism,” Saab said. “When people watch the show, they don’t see me as a person; they see me as a character.”

Reality TV characters are the people audiences love to hate, especially fiercely competitive “Apprentice” contestants. Not everyone on the show could take the negative press and audience reactions. “It was a crumbling experience for other cast members, because often you walk away from the show as public enemy number one,” Saab said.

But Saab on the other hand was well aware of the negative aspects involved with being on “The Apprentice” beforehand. Although Saab had recently renewed his spiritual direction in life, he was still afraid of looking like a fool on national television. “I had gone through a spiritual battle of sorts, and came out on the other end,” Saab said. “But it is still difficult to be on reality TV; you still have your pride. When you’re on camera, I don’t care who you are – you are going to do something stupid. And it’s going to be on TV.”

Saab was quite suddenly thrust into the spotlight because of “The Apprentice.” “When we were at the grocery store, my wife picked up a magazine and said ‘Look, this is interesting, 61 percent of women think Orlando Bloom is better looking than you,’” he said. But the Orlando look-a-like has put his fame to good use. He is currently giving speeches across the nation and working on his book Gut Check.

Both Saab’s speeches and his upcoming book focus on his personal Catholic transformation. “My story is of a battle of the ordinary; I had to choose whether to put importance on family and faith, or business,” he said. Saab argued that this simple change in priorities can make all the difference in achieving happiness. When Saab’s career was going strong and he was making money and getting promotions, he realized that he was not happy. “I had everything I thought would make me happy, but it wasn’t all there,” he said. “Sometimes God gives you everything you want at a young age to show you that it is not what you wanted.”

Saab fortified his identity and decided to orient his life towards achieving Catholic perfection after spending a lot of time alone reading and figuring himself out. “I read a lot of books, and began to sort out my identity,” Saab said.

He realized he was mistaken in valuing material possessions and popularity over pursuing a fully Catholic life. “I knew I couldn’t identify with ideals I have no intention of living up to,” said Saab. He decided to embrace all aspects of Catholicism. “Catholic perfection is following all Ten Commandments, not just seven or eight,” said Saab.

Saab did acknowledge that achieving perfection is not likely to ever occur. But he does advocate for everyone to constantly make decisions that will bring them closer to their own concept of perfection. “We can strive for perfection,” Saab said. “I don’t expect Michael Jordan to have made every shot, but I can expect him to try to make every shot.”

Looking back on his own life, Saab had advice for students on how to orient their lives towards achieving their own conceptions of perfection – for one, Saab said he realized that knowledge really is power. “Educate yourself, when you have questions, seek out the answers,” Saab said. And he advocated choosing friends wisely.

“Let some friendships fall away,” Saab said. “If you are not close to people on any meaningful level, and you just party, they have more of an influence on you than you would like to admit.” But above all, Saab said that if people use their time meaningfully, their lives will be much more fulfilling.

“Take control over your own life, you will experience inner personal strength when you replace wasted time with activities that will benefit yourself,” Saab said. “Orient all your activities towards an end goal, and you will be a much happier person.”

After renewing his Catholic faith and being on “The Apprentice,” Saab was eager to share his experiences and faith with many. His current company, Lionheart Apparel is the fastest growing Christian apparel company in the nation. His company makes t-shirts and hats with Christian symbols on them.

Saab cited his inspiration as sports team apparel. “People wear sports team apparel because they identify themselves with that team,” Saab said. “I thought; why not wear something more similar to my own identity. It’s better than the Jesus is my homeboy shirts.” At the very least, they are certainly more encouraging than the best-selling “You’re Fired!” t-shirts.