Left as the last man standing on NBC's hit reality show "The Apprentice, "Gulfport, Miss.-born Craig Williams exited the show's location after a series of interviews that tagged him as having a lack of depth.
"What does that mean?" Williams asked. "I certainly have more business acumen than most of my competitors. I really think it had more to do with gender."
The married father of four daughters is quick to point out that he believes that this was the season of the woman, which left his last two female opponents holding the trump cards in the boardroom.
"You don't have to consider that, but it is a reality. We can't just overlook that. At the same time, we don't want to make that the excuse for why I'm not 'The Apprentice,'" he said.
Leading his "Street Smarts" team to victory on several projects, Williams bumped creative heads with a couple of his on-screen colleagues. He points out that the 15-week run was an experience of a lifetime, though, one he will never forget.
"For me it was character building. It was, in a sense, heaven," Williams said. "Since I was a teenager, I have been responsible for everything, from what I eat to what I wear. In a sense I gave up my ID and someone on the show was responsible for everything, leaving us totally focused on the creative side of things."
Williams, 37, has had to find true balance in his life. In Atlanta, he works as a firefighter and an emergency management technician 24 hours a day for three days a week. He also operates a highly successful shoeshine business, "Peaceful Feet Shoe Shine Inc." With all of that on his professional plate, the family man still manages to find time to act as a standing partner in the Pinnacle Entertainment Group (music, marketing and promotions firm), based in Nashville. He credits his earthly partner and his heavenly Father with making it come together. "I have to be led by the spirit, and I have a great partner in my wife," Williams said.
The gifted entrepreneur grew up in San Francisco. Williams' father was a member of the Air Force. There, he developed another gift—love and passion for music.
"I have played saxophone for a long time. Music is my first love," Williams said, adding that after returning to Atlanta, he played at New Birth Cathedral.
"In fact my business partner Marc Harris and I played in church together," he added.
Harris and Williams talked for years about working professionally together in music; it never really materialized. Harris eventually left for Nashville to produce for Be Be and Ce Ce Winans, Amy Grant and others. Four years later Harris called Williams again with another idea about another project. And once again, they were on the same page. The timing was perfect.
"I was excited to get that call. (Harris) had a vision about a compilation project and fully engulfing the church in the marketing, promotions and retail sales component," Williams said.
"I handle the marketing and promotions side of things," Williams said, adding that he is also deeply connected with the creative process of the business. But whether he is mulling over paper work or contemplating chords, the reoccurring theme is promoting the gospel.
"We try to get the good news of our good music out to good people."
Reading this article reminds me of when I had surgery on my hands while living in Brooklyn, New York almost 10 years ago. The doctors told me that I wouldn't be able to continue with my art--- or write for any length of time.
I couldn't afford to live where I as after being out of work for almost 6 months due to physical therapy everyday. I moved back to Mississippi, dejected. However, I received a letter after my return here from New York that really made me put things in perspective.
The letter from one of my christian sisters siad: "It's not WHERE you serve, but WHO you serve that is important."
I never forgot that. Great job Craig! And great writing, Otha!
- c a webb
I never watched "The Apprentice", but now I hate I missed seeing Craig in action. All I ever hear about is Omarosa (who is now on The Surreal Life, God help us), so I'm glad to hear something positive about an African American participating.