Each year, a new generation of practitioners enters the fields of sports, entertainment and business. Everyone is looking for that golden opportunity of mentorship from someone special, someone who cares and someone who is willing to take you by the hand and potentially lead you to greatness.
By chance, retired Indy 500 driver Sarah Fisher's dad, Dave Fisher, found me at the go-kart track as a 12-year-old kid and helped to start refining my craft as a racing driver. Not three years later, I was taken under the wing of Michael Andretti, a former IZOD IndyCar Series driver with the third most Indy car race wins (42) in history. He signed me to his team, Andretti Autosport, where he is the chairman, president and CEO.
Signing with Andretti Autosport was beyond my wildest imagination because as a young kid, I used to play with my Hot Wheels in my bedroom and pretend I was racing Michael [Andretti] in the Indy 500. Never did I think I would one day be driving for him.
And just like Michael and even Mario Andretti have taken me under their wing, Donald Trump's annual Apprentice show has the same line of thinking. The show, which has evolved into Celebrity Apprentice, is part of a so-called apprenticeship under Mr. Trump.
I couldn't help but wonder, as I was watching Michael on Sunday's season premier, who had been his mentor growing up. But with a dad like Mario Andretti, he probably didn't have to look very far.
Michael didn't join the other 17 celebrity's on the show till about 40 minutes in as he missed the first part of filming due to replacing his son Marco [Andretti], following the death of our good friend, two-time Indy 500 winner Dan Wheldon.
Mr. Trump was quick to point out that he was a good friend of Mario Andretti and that he always thinks, "If I drive like Mario, I'll get there pretty quick."
Even though Michael was starting the show a bit late, I'm sure he got right to work on the sandwich-making task at hand to help lead the team to the win. As athletes, and especially racing drivers, we hate to lose at ANYTHING! I think this competitiveness is instinct and spills over in every facet of our lives, and the boardroom will be no different for Michael.
Motorsports is as much about the racing as it is about raising the money to be on the racetrack. Corporate sponsorships are the very thread that keeps the sport going, so being in a boardroom will be no unfamiliar territory to Michael as he competes for the title of Celebrity Apprentice this season. As a team owner, Michael is the winningest team owner in IndyCar history, which is a direct testament to how successful he has been as a business owner.
As the only athlete in the field of 18 total contestants on the show this season, Michael is sure to continue to fight as hard as he once did on the racetrack for a trophy as he'll fight for contributions to his favorite charity, Racing for Cancer.