May 31, 2006 12:13 AM by Joe Blackmon
NBC and Mark Burnett Productions announced today that 1998 gold medalist and three-time U.S. Women’s Ice Hockey Olympian and Harvard Graduate Angela Ruggiero will join 17 other candidates selected to ‘interview’ for the title of "The Apprentice" during season six of the hit show. NBC’s "The Apprentice" hosted by Donald Trump returns in January on Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT with new twists, new geography – shot exclusively in Southern California – new boardrooms and 18 new candidates.
This past February, Mark Burnett, creator and executive producer, opened "Apprentice" casting to the viewers to choose one of 12 U.S. Olympic athletes competing in the 2006 Olympic Winter Games. During NBC’s 17-day broadcast from Torino, viewers were given the chance to vote interactively on www.NBCOlympics.com for one of the 12 U.S. Olympians to become a candidate on season six of "The Apprentice."
Ruggiero out-skated her fellow competitors, which included: Olympians Allison Baver (short track speedskating/Reading, Pa.); Travis Cabral (freestyle skiing moguls/South Lake Tahoe, Calif.); Casey FitzRandolph (long track speedskating/Verona, Wis.); Todd Hays (bobsled/Del Rio, Texas); Chad Hedrick (long track speedskating/Spring, Texas); Danny Kass (snowboard/halfpipe/ Greenwich, Conn.); Joe Pack (freestyle skiing/aerials/Park City, Utah); Jeret "Speedy" Peterson (freestyle skiing/aerials/Boise, Idaho); Katie Uhlaender (skeleton/Breckenridge, Colo.); Seth Wescott (snowboard/snowboardcross/Carrabassett Valley, Maine) and Chris Witty (long track speedskating/West Allis, Wis.).
"The results are in and I’m thrilled with the viewers decision," said Trump, executive producer, "The Apprentice." "We’ll see if Angela can ice the competition as we take the boardroom to the West Coast."
"It’s an honor to have been selected by America – I’ll definitely be bringing my Olympic spirit and competitive edge to the game," said Ruggiero.
"I’m delighted to have an Olympian in our cast, especially one who went to Harvard," said Burnett, executive producer, "The Apprentice." "It’s a unique hiring opportunity for Donald Trump if she’s lucky enough to win. But in order to win, she’ll need to be the best of the best as she battles against many motivated and talented job applicants."
The current season of "The Apprentice" concludes this Monday, June 5 with a 90-minute live broadcast from Los Angeles’ Orpheum Theatre where either Lee or Sean will be told "You’re Hired."
In 1998, Ruggiero became the youngest member of the U.S. Olympic Team that won the first Olympic gold medal ever awarded in women’s ice hockey at the Olympic Winter Games in Nagano, Japan. She subsequently was a member of the U.S. Olympic team that won a silver medal in Salt Lake City in the 2002 Olympic Winter Games and most recently, she and her teammates took home a bronze medal in Torino in 2006. Ruggiero is a recognized team leader and is widely regarded as the top female defenseman in the world. At the 2005 International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship in Sweden, Ruggiero scored the shootout game-winner to lead Team USA to its first-ever World Championship gold medal.
Ruggiero was chosen to be one of eight athletes to carry the tattered World Trade Center flag into the Opening Ceremony of the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games. On the ice in Salt Lake, Ruggiero notched a goal and three assists in five games, leading the U.S. to the gold-medal game against Canada. Canada won, 3-2, to claim gold. Ruggiero was given the IIHF Directorate Award as the tournament’s top defenseman.
On Jan. 8, 2005, Ruggiero made history when she became the first female non-goaltender to play significant minutes in a U.S. men’s professional hockey game. She joined her brother, goaltender Bill Ruggiero, playing for the Tulsa Oilers of the Central Hockey League. She had one assist in 13 minutes of ice time. After the game, the Hockey Hall of Fame requested Angela’s and Bill’s sweaters, because they became the first brother and sister to play together in a North American professional game.
Ruggiero graduated cum laude from Harvard University with a B.A. in government in 2004. She was a four-time All-American and four-time finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, presented annually by USA Hockey to the top player in NCAA Division I women’s ice hockey. She won the award her senior year and was named one of the top 16 female athletes in the world by ESPN.com in 2004. She finished her collegiate career with 243 points (91 goals, 152 assists) in 127 games. For the 2000-01 and 2001-02 school years, she took a leave of absence from Harvard to concentrate on the Olympics.
Ruggiero is active in Right to Play, a non-governmental organization that aims to enrich the lives of children through sport. She traveled to Uganda for three weeks in 2004 for Right to Play, observing and helping to educate children at play around the country. For one week each summer, she teaches at her All-American Girls Hockey School at the St. Clair Shores Civic Arena in St. Clair, Mich. She started the school in 2002 to encourage girls to participate in ice hockey. Ruggiero also helped launch the website and raise funds for Teams of Angels and momsteam.com, charities that focus on creating a safer youth sports experience. In November 2005, she released her autobiography, "Breaking the Ice."
The hit reality show "The Apprentice," hosted and executive produced by Trump and created by Mark Burnett Productions, made famous the now infamous phrase, "You’re Fired." Candidates selected to be on the show vie for a yearlong $250,000 "apprenticeship" and a chance to work in one of Trump’s organizations. Each week the two teams are given a task – the winning team earns a reward and stands a week closer to becoming "The Apprentice," while the losing team faces Trump in the boardroom where someone gets fired. The multi-week interview continues to the final boardroom where Trump tells one lucky candidate, "You’re Hired!"
"The Apprentice" is produced by Mark Burnett Productions. Burnett, Jay Bienstock and Trump are executive producers. Conrad Riggs and Kevin Harris are co-executive producers.