Mavs owner faces competition for Kwame

Updated: April 17, 2004, 12:47 PM ET
By Darren Rovell | ESPN.com

Donald Trump didn't hire "Apprentice" finalist Kwame Jackson on Thursday night's finale of the NBC reality show, but Mark Cuban just might.

Cuban defends 'Benefactor'
Mark Cuban
Cuban
Mark Cuban's new reality television show, "The Benefactor," will not be a rip-off of "The Apprentice," Mark Cuban exclaimed on his Web site Friday.

On blogmaverick.com, Cuban takes issue with comments Donald Trump made to the Chicago Sun-Times.

"Because of the success of 'The Apprentice,' you'll have 100 people trying to do shows a little bit like us, but we have a very unique show and I have a very unique guy in [producer Mark Burnett]," Trump said to the newspaper. "I'll tell you something, it's not going to be easy to duplicate what we've done as a team."

Cuban responded on his Web site with the following: "Let's get some things cleared up in case anyone is confused. 'The Benefactor' is going to be nothing like 'The Apprentice.' Why? Because, Donald, we are not alike in any way."

Cuban discusses Trump at length on his Web site, even poking fun at his office. When Cuban met with Trump at The Donald's New York office, he noticed the office was "covered, literally, every inch of every wall with pictures and magazine covers of you [Trump]."

Cuban also writes on his Web site: "After leaving your office, I promised myself that if I ever got liquid and had an obscene amount of money in the bank, I would make a point not to remind myself and everyone else around me of it every minute of every day -- unlike you. I guess our definition of success is just completely different."

Cuban also said that he likes Trump, and that when "The Benefactor" was announced, Trump was one of the first people to call him.

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The Dallas Mavericks billionaire owner -- who is also co-founder of HDNet, a high definition television company -- was at a party for Jackson on Thursday night after the 29-year-old Harvard Business School graduate lost the chance to work for Trump and receive a $250,000 salary. That prize went to Bill Rancic, the owner of a multimillion-dollar cigar company who will now oversee the contruction of the Trump International Hotel and Tower in Chicago.

The Donald's loss might be Cuban's gain.

"I told him I would definitely hire him to evaluate the business proposals I get every day that I can't get to," Cuban said on Friday. "And potentially run a business."

Cuban said Jackson, a former Goldman Sachs investment manager, actually made out better by not being selected.

"He knows that he was the lucky one by coming in second," Cuban said. "Bill gets up and goes to work on a construction job. Kwame gets to be the celebrity, have a great time and look over all the options he has. I told him to take his time, have fun and decide what he wants to do. We can talk more and if he wants a job, I have one for him."

Cuban did not say how much he would pay Jackson if he were to accept a job, but the Mavericks owner might have some serious competition in bidding for his services. Jackson already has been offered a $150,000 job from magazine publisher SYS-CON Media, and Kentucky Fried Chicken has offered him $25,000 and a year's supply of KFC products to work for one week on the launch of the company's oven-roasted chicken line.

Perhaps Cuban can beat the competition by giving Jackson restaurant chain managing advice. In January 2001, after saying that he wouldn't even hire the NBA's head of officials to manage a Dairy Queen, Cuban was challenged by the franchise to manage for a day. Cuban, who was fined $500,000 by the NBA for the remark, accepted and served up the company's Blizzards to approximately 1,000 people in two hours.

Cuban will get his shot at reality television soon, as he will be the star of ABC's "The Benefactor." Earlier this month, more than 500 people attended a casting call in Dallas for the show, in which 16 people will live in a house in Dallas for three weeks and try to impress Cuban for a $1 million bounty. The show is reportedly scheduled to air in August or September.

Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at Darren.rovell@espn3.com.

Darren Rovell | email

ESPN.com Sports Business reporter