It is difficult not to be taken in by entrepreneur and celebrity Bill Rancic’s charming good looks and attractive personality.
Dashingly dressed in a three-piece checked suit, he looked radiant despite being visibly tired, probably from the long flight a couple of hours beforehand.
He was in Kuala Lumpur earlier in April for The Business of Innovation forum organised by The London Speaker Bureau.
Rancic’s ability to still present himself well can most likely be attributed to his strict exercise and diet regiment.
“I go running, and baby Duke (his son) often comes with me in the jogger stroller. He also comes hiking with us,” Rancic says referring to his celebrity wife Guiliana.
He adds that he has completed a “couple of marathons and a few triathlons”. “I really enjoy just going out for a long run and losing myself in the run,” he tells StarBizWeek.
Although he eats healthily most of the time, Rancic admits that he does cheat a little on his diet every now and then. “I’ve got a real sweet tooth!” he admits.
His method to stop himself from overdosing on sweet foods is to go cold turkey. “I haven’t had any dessert in about a month and a half. My buddy and I made a bet where we’re only allowed to have four cheat days over the course of six months,” he says.
Rancic says it is important to keep healthy, especially with “baby Duke” in the picture now. “I’m an older dad. I want to be able to play catch and football and run after him when he’s a teenager. So I’ve got to stay in shape for him,” he says.
Apprentice No. 1
Despite his celebrity good looks, Rancic is known first as an entrepreneur.
He is best known for winning the first season of Donald Trump’s reality show, The Apprentice. He participated alongside other candidates with the goal of earning a place in one of Trump’s organisations.
“Winning felt great! For me it was an incredible life-changing experience. There was a lot of tough competition but in the end, it worked out great for me. It was an opportunity of a lifetime because I got to learn so much about business, and entrepreneurship. It was one of the best things that happened to me,” he says.
After winning the first season, Rancic elected to oversee the construction of the Trump Tower in Chicago. He was also involved in the strategic development of other Trump properties around the United States and in Mexico.
Rancic still has the opportunity of appearing as a judge on the show, which has been running for 13 seasons. “It’s such a good show and it’s amazing how long it has been going on. It gets better and better,” he says.
He and Giuliana watched the 13th season of the reality show, the All-Star Celebrity Apprentice on TV every Sunday, he says.
“It was an opportunity of a lifetime. He is one of the greatest entrepreneurs of our generation. And to be able to learn and see how he does business was absolutely spectacular,” he says in reference to working alongside Trump.
Rancic grew up with three sister, whom he says taught him how to be a gentleman.
“I would always hear stories about these different creepy guys that would try to hit on them or try to ask them out. I would never want to be that creepy guy. The guys they were friends with, and associated with, were always really good and honourable guys,” he says.
One of his sisters, Karen now works with him. “We talk on the phone at least 10 times a day,” he laughs.
Although he does not have the opportunity to see his two other sister regularly, Rancic maintains a good relationship with them.
Rancic is still very much involved in one of his passions: real estate. At the time of this interview, he told this writer that he was in the midst of completing a mixed-use project in Chicago. “I’m always looking for new and different real estate projects to be involved in,” he says.
Inspired by Giuliana’s mother’s delicious meals, Rancic and his wife decided to use some of her recipes and open up a restaurant. RPM Italian Restaurant is one of the few restaurants in Chicago that make its pastas from scratch every morning, Rancic says. “People come in at 6am, roll out the dough and get the pasta made. It’s a true southern Italian experience when you come to RPM Italian. And now we have RPM Steak opening up.”
The Rancic duo together with their partners currently have two RPM Italian restaurants, but have an aggressive expansion plan to open up more in the next few years.
When he was younger, he considered being a lawyer as well as a Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agent. “There were so many things I wanted to do. I had a very diverse field of interests.
“I think I like to be diversified and I think that’s important. I like to have a lot of things going on to help me deal with my limited attention span, I guess,” he jokes.
He is also the ambassador for hair-loss product Rogaine. “My hair was thinning and I started using Rogaine a log time ago, and it worked! So I’m a believer. It was a no brainer. I chose to have more hair. There’s nothing more to it than that,” he says.
But his priorities have now shuffled around, since he and his wife Giuliana welcomed baby Edward Duke into their lives in late August 2012.
The silver lining
After four years of struggling to conceive, Giuliana announced in October 2011 that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. She then underwent a lumpectomy followed by radiation before undergoing a double mastectomy.
“It was very tough and scary but we figured out a plan and we battled through it. She’s tough,’ Rancic says.
Although Giuliana has been cancer free for more than a year now, Rancic admits he still worries for his wife. But, he is reassured by her doctors. “I look at the odds, and the odds of it coming back are low. So thank God!
“She still goes out and encourages young girls to get checked. It’s all about early detection with breast cancer. If you catch it early, it is something that can be rectified and you can live a long, long life,” he says.
After multiple failed in vitro fertilisation attempts, as well as Giuliana’s battle with breast cancer, the couple were overjoyed when “baby Duke” was delivered via gestational surrogate.
Now, 10 months later, first-time dad Rancic jokes about getting up in the middle of the night to feed the baby, and how much he loves it. “It’s such a special moment. When he falls asleep in your arms you just want to melt. It’s just precious,” he says.
When he is older, Rancic wants to encourage his son to try different things, whether its in sports or instruments, or different courses in school. “I’m going to encourage him to have an open mind,” he says.
He also aims to teach his son a good work ethic. “If you want something, you’ve got to work towards it,” he says. It is also important to instill a sense of good sportsmanship in him, and how to win and lose properly, Rancic says.
When he was younger, his parents taught him that it was alright to make mistakes and to go through setbacks. “But it was never okay to not try,” he says.
Although Rancic and his wife are often lacking in sleep, they are savouring and cherishing the moments spent with their son. “We thank God everyday that we’ve got him in our life,” he says.
Building upon trust
Rancic and Giuliana are the executive producers for the reality TV show Giuliana and Bill on the Style Network. He admits the show was actually his wife’s idea.
“They (Style Network) had asked her if we would be interested and we thought we would do one or two episodes. But it turned out to be a success!” he says.
Their purpose for the show is to showcase a healthy marriage and a healthy relationship, Rancic says. “We said that we’re going to use the show for good and not evil. And so far, we’ve been able to accomplish that,” he says.
Rancic and Giuliana have been able to bring attention to several important issues such as infertility and breast cancer, as well as other challenges they have been through.
“A lot of people have appreciates us for what we’ve done, which is to turn the light on some important issues. We’ll see how much longer it goes (the show). I don’t know the answer to that yet,” he says.
The most important thing in any marriage is trust, he says. “It is your foundation. It’s just like in the construction world. When you build the Petronas Towers you’ve got to make sure the foundation is solid or else you can’t go up that high. And that’s how a marriage is. You have to have a solid bedrock foundation to build upon,” he says.
One of the proactive things he and Giuliana does regularly is something called “checking in”. Everytime they “check in” with each other, it is an opportunity for them to talk about what they would like to see different in their marriage.
“But it is also a time to say things we like about our marriage,” he says. An example is how each of them would compliment the other on simple everyday things that they do for each other.
“Hey I really love when you got me that coffee in the morning. It was so sweet of you or I love when you did this for me,” Rancic would tell his wife.
“Checking in” helps them maintain a good relationship with each other.
“We’re partners in every aspect. We’re best friends, we’re business partners, we’re husband and wife and we got lucky that we found each other,” he says.
Rancic often advices budding entrepreneurs to do what they love. “I hate to be all cliché, but when you do something you love, you never work a day in your life. That’s the old adage. But you know, there is truth to that,” he says.
BORN: May 16, 1971 in Chicago, Illinois
PERSONAL: Married with one son
HIGHEST QUALIFICATION: Bachelor of Science from Loyola University Chicago
CAREER: Entrepreneur and celebrity
NOTEWORTHY: Builds homes for the needy in Haiti. Also a die-hard water skier and scuba diver
FAVOURITE FOOD: Pasta, pizza and cookies
FAVOURITE PLACE: Chicago because it’s home
VALUES: Making the right decision eventhough it isn’t always the easy decision.
INSPIRATION: His parents because they did things they loved