If you wear gingham plaid shirts on TV, you will become famous.
GW Law School alum Martin Han Clarke did just that, and his trademark style helped him became one of the most memorable contestants yet to grace the screen on Donald Trump’s latest season of the hit NBC reality show, “The Apprentice.”
Even though Clarke was the first contestant to hear Trump’s famous catchphrase “You’re fired” on the show’s sixth season premiere last month, the media immediately took a liking to him, he said, propelling the 1994 graduate into reality TV stardom.
“Just after I was fired I went on a crazy media circuit,” Clarke said. “Everyone commented on the gingham shirts I wore while on the show.”
With the help of his wardrobe and his colorful personality, the 37-year-old half-African American, half-Japanese attorney has gone from pacing the courtroom to producing his own reality show in a matter of months.
Despite the recent hoopla surrounding Clarke after he got the boot from Trump, Clarke said being fired from the show’s very first episode was not the way he envisioned his run on “The Apprentice.” But ever the optimist, Clarke has decided to make lemonade out of “The Donald’s” lemons.
“I’d rather be kicked off first than third or fourth,” he said. “So far, I’m the most-watched firee of the season.”
Clarke said has no regrets about appearing on “The Apprentice,” where contestants live in a communal house and are placed on teams to complete a new task each week. The winning team gets a prize and continues on to the next week, while a member of the losing team gets “fired” and kicked off the show.
“What has resulted from the show has been mostly positive. I got a book deal, TV shows, I’ve been giving lectures . it never would have happened if not for the show,” he said, adding that seeing himself on TV wasn’t so bad either.
“Quite frankly, I looked smashing.”
Despite his positive feelings, Clarke said he’s still shocked that he was fired so early. He said he believes it was Ivanka Trump, Donald Trump’s daughter and season six judge, who swayed the vote against him.
During the boardroom meeting elimination round of the first episode, the tables turned on Clarke when Ivanka revealed what she thought of him. Clarke said Ivanka was adamant that he would not fit in well with the Trump business group, and didn’t seem to like him from the start.
“I don’t see you fitting in with our company,” Ivanka quipped to Clarke in the boardroom. “I don’t see you working side by side with me and my father.”
Clarke protested Ivanka’s criticisms, but she raked him over the coals.
“I don’t like the way you talk … the way you project yourself … I feel everything you say is rhetoric … (there is) no hunger, no passion, no fire,” Ivanka said, according to a transcript of the scene from the South Florida Sun Sentinel.
Clarke said he is sure “if it wasn’t for Ivanka, I wouldn’t have been fired.”
Nonetheless, season six’s first victim still tunes in to “The Apprentice” each week to see how the rest of his fellow contestants fare against Trump.
“I watch the train wreck every week that the candidates have to go through.”
The Man Behind The Suit
Like many GW students, Clarke was born and bred in Long Island, N.Y. He earned his Bachelor’s degree there at Adelphi University, but said he decided to relocate down to GW for law school because of the University’s credentials and its great location.
“GW has one of the best law schools in the country,” he said. “And it’s also in the thick of the political epicenter of the universe, which is Washington, D.C.”
The bar scene didn’t hinder his decision either, said Clarke, who now lives in Atlanta practicing law as the city’s senior assistant attorney.
“I really miss Adams Morgan, especially Heaven & Hell, the Bukom Caf? and Chief Ike’s Mambo Room,” he said.
Since graduating from GW, Clarke has practiced numerous types of law, including real estate, telecommunications, utilities and commercial transactions. He’s also worked as an adjunct professor at a handful of colleges, including his undergrad Adelphi, and New York University.
“One of the highlights of my life is being a mentor to hundreds of students I’ve taught,” he said.
One of GW’s law school faculty members played a similar role in shaping Clarke’s own teaching style. Professor Jonathan Turley, who still teaches at the Law School today, took a tough-love approach with his students.
“I did horrible in (Turley’s) class, but he was young, energetic and very interactive. I’ve borrowed from him a lot in my lectures,” he said.
Charity is also important to Clarke. He has repeatedly volunteered for the Make a Wish Foundation, serving on its board of directors. Clarke actually met “The Donald” working with him on a project at the Make a Wash Foundation years before “The Apprentice” brought the two together again.
And speaking of Trump – just what exactly is he like up close and personal?
“He is exactly as he is on TV. A very professional guy,” Clarke said, adding, “The hair is real! It definitely has its own personality.”
Clarke said if he had won “The Apprentice,” he would have expanded Trump’s businesses into bigger international markets, to help the real-estate mogul make “billions (of dollars) more.”
But in the long run, things seemed to turn out well for Clarke, who now has the opportunity to dip his hands in a number of careers besides law, all thanks to one episode of a reality TV show.
“It’s a really exciting time for me right now,” he said. “I’m working on a reality competition called ‘Celebrity Wingman,’ an amazingly witty and crazy show.”
With the help of his stint on “The Apprentice,” Clarke said he might now be able to achieve his ultimate goal: “To conquer the world and the universe beyond.”