Giuliana Rancic and her husband are no strangers to the public eye. If you watched even a couple episodes of Giuliana & Bill, you may have heard the story of how E! reporter Giuliana DePandi met Bill Rancic, the first winner of The Apprentice. How she would watch the show weekly and, as she told HuffPost, say, “I do need to marry him.” How she jumped at a chance to interview Bill Rancic in 2005. How they hit it off. How they got married. And how the rest became reality TV history.
But Bill Rancic is a lot more than one well-dressed half of one of TV’s most celebrated reality TV personalities. There’s also a lot more to his career in business than the time he spent working for Donald Trump. Bill Rancic has been an unrelenting entrepreneur from a young age, doing everything from washing boats to selling cigars before making it big.
The native Chicagoan is the picture of a strong work ethic, and he gives endless praise to his hometown for making him the man that he is. Bill Rancic has more layers than most people realize. Here’s a look at some of the things that make Giuliana Rancic’s husband such a renaissance man.
This was Bill Rancic's first-ever business
Even before we made a name for himself on The Apprentice, Bill Rancic had found success as an entrepreneur. His business-hustling ways were evident early on, when, as an enterprising 10-year-old, he found he could make money by selling pancakes to his grandmother’s friends.
In an interview with the New York Post, Giuliana Rancic’s husband recounted how his business career began one weekend after his parents dropped him off at his grandma’s while they took a weekend away. “My grandma decided to teach me how to make pancakes. Afterward, I invited all the old ladies from the neighborhood over to her house, and I cooked them pancakes,” he told The Post. “When they left, they all put five-dollar bills underneath their plates.”
His mother soon found the fat stack of fives hidden in his room, and, like any parent would when they found inexplicable money in their child’s room, she was concerned. Bill came clean, but that was the end of pancake breakfasts at Grandma’s. “They knew I was kind of a different breed early on,” he said.
Giuliana Rancic's husband was the last person chosen for The Apprentice
Though he’d found success in business, Bill Rancic really made his name in the industry when Donald Trump selected him as the winner of the first season of The Apprentice. For that initial season, over 215,000 people applied for the show, as Bill told Lubbock, Texas radio station KFYO. Of those near-quarter-million, only 50 were selected to fly to Los Angeles for testing, from which a final 16 were picked. Bill was the last one to make the cut.
“When you were a kid and you were the last one picked on a baseball team, it didn’t feel good,” Giuliana Rancic’s husband said in the radio interview, “and I was the last one chosen and low and behold I won the darn thing.”
He said he attracted the interest of the Trump team by running a sort of Cigar of the Month Club out of a tiny apartment. His success apparently led to them approaching him to apply for the show.
Why Bill Rancic, Giuliana Rancic's husband, wrote a children's book with his sister
Bill Rancic grew up in the Chicago suburbs with his parents and three older sisters, Beth, Katie, and Karen. And as adults, Bill and Karen teamed up to put together a 2006 book of business advice for children, titled Beyond the Lemonade Stand: Starting Small to Make it Big. Though it’s not marketed as a children’s book per se, it includes things like ideas for kid-friendly businesses, a “build-your-own-business worksheet,” and stories from child entrepreneurs.
The idea all sprung from a guest speaking role Karen wrangled Bill into. “Karen asked me to speak at her son Zack’s elementary school,” Bill told MyCentralJersey.com. “I broke the kids into teams and gave them a little project: Come up with a business and a plan, make a list of 20 different things you need to do.”
When a team shared they wanted to “open up a cash casino” and realized they needed waitresses, security staff, and a location, Giuliana Rancic’s husband was impressed. He recalled, “Walking to the car, I said to Karen, ‘These kids need an outlet. We should do a book.'”
Giuliana Rancic's husband, Bill Rancic, has written multiple books
Bill Rancic’s not just an enviable head of hair and a charming TV entrepreneur. He’s also an accomplished author, beginning his literary career shortly after winning The Apprentice with the memoir/self-help book You’re Hired: How to Succeed in Business and Life from the Winner of The Apprentice.
After that book’s success, he went on to give children’s business advice in Beyond the Lemonade Stand: Starting Small to Make it Big and then co-wrote I Do, Now What? Secrets, Stories, and Advice from a Madly-in-Love Couple with wife Giuliana Rancic in 2010.
Bill’s first dabble into fiction came in 2018 with First Light. It tells the story of a young Chicago couple whose plane crashes in the Yukon and chronicles husband Daniel’s search for help. Bill said the idea came to him on a flight from Alaska. “I started thinking, ‘What would happen if this plane went down?'” he shared, as reported by the Chicago Tribune. “In my mind, I outlined the whole scenario for what turned out to be First Light.”
Bill Rancic has helped out in Haiti
Bill Rancic is involved in charitable organizations, most notably the Mercy Home for Boys & Girls in Chicago. In addition to Mercy Home, he’s also made repeated trips to Haiti to deliver disaster relief and build houses, an endeavor he discussed at length with MyCentralJersey.com.
His first trip to the island was in the wake of the 2010 earthquake, which is thought to have killed hundreds of thousands of people and decimated the country. Bill flew to Haiti with Sara Lee executive Jon Harris and delivered thousands of pounds of food. On that trip, he met a boy named Didi Vladimir Thomas pierre-Louis. “He was in dire need of medical attention and I flew him and two other children to a hospital in Chicago to get the care they needed,” he said in the interview. “Didi didn’t survive, but I made him a promise before he died, to build another home for his mother Josette.”
In 2011, Bill returned to the island and kept his promise, building a home as part of World Wide Village in 2011.
Giuliana Rancic's husband is an avid marathon runner
Bill Rancic has been running marathons since his 20s, and it’s helped keep him in shape well into marriage and parenthood.
According to an interview with the Chicago Tribune before the 2015 Chicago Marathon, Bill’s goal is to run a marathon in his 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50s. He’s completed the Chicago Marathon three times and the New York Marathon once, and his best time is “a little over four hours.”
Bill’s interest in marathons started, as most guys’ extreme goals do, when another guy called him out. In 1999, his then-roommate bet Bill he couldn’t run the race. He accepted, trained for only ten weeks, and ran as Billy “The Kid” Rancic. He finished in 4 hours and 34 minutes. “It’s a great way to test yourself and push yourself to the limits,” Giuliana Rancic’s husband told the Tribune. “I find that when I’m training for these, every other aspect of my life becomes more focused.”
Bill Rancic is the co-owner of three restaurants and is a decent amateur chef
Perhaps Bill Rancic’s most recognizable business is the RPM family of restaurants in Chicago, which are part of Lettuce Entertain You. The company developed a $50 million space along the Chicago River that’s now home to, in part, RPM Seafood, as reported by Eater Chicago, and it’s the third in the RPM portfolio of restaurants, joining RPM Italian and RPM Steak when it opened in 2020.
But Bill’s food prowess isn’t limited to being a restaurateur. He’s also a pretty decent home chef, telling Food Network, “My kitchen skills are pretty good. … Our chef partner, Doug Psaltis, has certainly shown me some skill in the kitchen.” Giuliana Rancic’s husband continued, “I love cooking Italian food and I also love to grill.”
He’s not just talking himself up, either. In a 2015 story for ABC News called “Giuliana Rancic: 44 Reasons I love Bill on His 44th Birthday,” she lists for No. 9, “He is an amazing cook and a grill master.”
This was Bill Rancic's first business venture as an adult
Bill Rancic was labeled the “Cigar Salesman” during his time on The Apprentice, but his cigar company wasn’t his first-ever business as a professional. According to an interview with Buildings.com, Bill’s first business was a high-end boat washing and waxing service in New Buffalo, Mich. He and his friend Jerry Agema started Elite Boat Wash and Wax to raise money for tuition at Loyola University in Chicago, and it led him to realize becoming a massive success in business didn’t require any supernatural abilities.
“[Agema’s] parents owned a condo in New Buffalo,” Bill told ThePlumbingInfo.com. “We saw all of these boats coming in and decided to work for ourselves and started a boat washing business.” Giuliana Rancic’s husband shared that he ran the business for “two or three summers,” meeting “successful business owners” along the way. “They worked hard but they weren’t magical by any means,” he said. “I took the ‘Why not me?’ approach.”
Giuliana Rancic's husband was a spokesman for Rogaine
Bill Rancic’s million-dollar head of hair is as much a part of his image as his sharp suits and winning smile. And he owes much of that mane’s robustness to his steadfast use of Rogaine. He even served as a spokesman for Rogaine in the mid-2010s.
“One day I was looking at a picture of myself, and I almost didn’t recognize myself, and I thought, ‘That’s not me,'” he said in a 2014 interview. “I could have gone one of two ways: I could have thrown my hands in the air and said, ‘I’m gonna give up’; or I’m gonna fight like heck and make sure that I do everything possible to not lose my hair.” Giuliana Rancic’s husband continued, “And that’s what I did, and that’s when I started using Rogaine, and, lo and behold, look at that mane of hair on me now.”
According to an interview with AskMen, Bill began noticing this problem in his 20s and started using Rogaine. Which means had he not been a client, he might have a markedly different look than the one he has today.
Giuliana Rancic's husband oversaw the construction of the Trump Tower in Chicago
After Donald Trump selected him as the winner during the first season of The Apprentice, Bill Rancic was given two choices: open a golf course in Palo Alto, Calif. or oversee construction of Trump Tower in Chicago. The choice was not a tough one for the Chicago native. “I didn’t have to consider my options,” Giuliana Rancic’s husband said in a HuffPost piece written to the city of Chicago. “A lot of people thought I was crazy to head your way, but I knew I could hit the ground running at home.” He has referred to the building he helped create as “my beloved Trump Tower,” and his name is inextricably linked with the building.
When asked about his time working for the now-president, Bill is consistently diplomatic, saying he was treated “very fairly” in an interview with Us Weekly.
Bill Rancic has a deep love for Chicago
Bill Rancic was born in Chicago in 1971, and he has lived there most of his life. When we won The Apprentice, he famously passed up the chance to run a sunny golf course in order to oversee the building of Trump Tower in his hometown. And he talks up the city and its people every chance he gets.
In a Food Network interview promoting the show Kitchen Casino, he said, “My favorite food city is clearly Chicago — not only because we have two restaurants there, but it’s a town you can literally eat your way through, from Giordano’s deep-dish pizza to the incredible independent-restaurant scene.”
Bill loves Chicago so much he wrote a beautiful love letter to the city for HuffPost in 2012. Beyond discussing what’s drawn him to the city and kept him there despite pulls from the coast, he told the city, “That is our future. You will help my wife and I raise our boy,” adding, “Like me, he will always call you home.”
Giuliana Rancic's husband has hosted multiple TV shows
Many people know Bill Rancic from his role on The Apprentice or from E! Network’s Giuliana & Bill. But he’s had a solid TV career without his wife or Donald Trump sharing the bill, beginning with We Mean Business on A&E in 2008. For that show, he teamed with tech guru Katie Linendoll and design expert Peter Gurski to “help struggling small businesses.”
From 2010 to 2014, he hosted America Now with former Entertainment Tonight correspondent and talk show host Leeza Gibbons. Bill said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter that the transition to anchoring was a tough one. “I look back to the first show I did with Leeza, and I’m shocked she didn’t walk off the set,” Giuliana Rancic’s husband said. “I was certainly a work in progress in the beginning. I like to think I’ve come a long way.” He added, “If that was my wife, she would have come home that night and said, ‘I’m not going back there.'”
In 2014, Bill hosted Kitchen Casino on the Food Network, where he “[doled] out gambling-themed games to chefs competing to win the $30,000 jackpot.” The show lasted one season.
Bill Rancic started a cancer research fund named after his father
To honor his father who passed away of kidney cancer only 18 months after his diagnosis, Bill Rancic founded the Dr. Edward T. Rancic Memorial Fund for Cancer Research at the National Institutes of Health. Bill told America’s Best that the fund “was started at the National Institute of Health, where my dad underwent experimental treatment for kidney cancer,” noting, “I want to help other people and their families going through kidney cancer. People can contribute through NIH.”
To that end, Giuliana Rancic’s husband also auctioned off the 2005 Chrysler Crossfire convertible he received for winning The Apprentice to raise money for the foundation. “Cancer doesn’t discriminate,” Bill said in an interview with Tulsa World about the auction in 2005. Of his father, Bill shared, “He worked out every day, never smoked or drank and was the picture of health,” adding, “He fought it for a year and a half.”
Giuliana Rancic's husband is an expert wake surfer
In an interview with Buildings.com, Bill Rancic described the summer he started his first professional business, Elite Boat Wash and Wax, as “an amazing life,” reminiscing about mornings spent waterskiing in New Buffalo, Mich. His love of watersports only progressed into adulthood, and judging by his Instagram, he’s turned into a pretty spectacular wake surfer.
If you’ve never heard of wake surfing, that’s ok. It’s a ridiculously hard sport where a wakeboarder surfs a boat’s wake without being pulled behind it, combining all the hardest parts of every watersport in one. But Bill’s gotten so good that he can toss footballs while doing it. Giuliana Rancic’s husband can even surf alongside two friends, as he showed off in one Instagram video.
The world of watersports took notice, and, in 2018, Bill and Giuliana became official ambassadors for Malibu Boats. According to the press release announcing the ambassadorship, the Rancics own a 2018 25 LSV. Notably, they almost “broke the Internet” when they posted a Facebook video of Bill doing the Kiki Challenge behind their boat.
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