As I was about to ring up Katrina Campins at her Miami,
FL offices for her newly launched Real Estate Firm, The Campins Company, I had
what felt like first date jitters. From watching her on the first season of The
Apprentice, I got the impression that she was a no nonsense hard hitting
businesswoman who would scrutinize my every question, gesture, and comment. Our
phone meeting began as a comical game of telephone tag. This served to break the
ice, and when she apologized for it, I felt a sense of relief, as if the playing
field had been leveled.
During our lengthy conversation, I discovered a young woman who
is extremely bright and almost too driven for her own good. I also found her to
be very sweet and vulnerable, a quality that I didn't see on The Apprentice. We
bonded on several levels, and our interview transformed into a laid back
conversation about: work, relationships, family, ethnicity and expectations
about the future.
PR.com (Allison Kugel): Hey
Katrina Campins: Hey, how are you? I'm sorry about all the
PR.com: No, no, that's ok. So, how's the weather in
Katrina Campins: Beautiful, its 78.
PR.com: Oh, gosh. And you've lived there your whole life,
Katrina Campins: Yeah, born and raised. I just came back from
New York though, where it was freezing!
PR.com: I'm from New York.
Katrina Campins: You are? I love New York. But, it's so cold.
It makes you soooo lazy. I went up there for all these events, and it was so
cold that all I wanted to do was just curl up in bed.
PR.com: Yup! So… first of all, congratulations on the launch
of The Campins Company.
Katrina Campins: Thank you.
PR.com: In 2004, a lot happened to you. You got married, you
started your own real estate firm, and you became no longer an anonymous
Katrina Campins: Yeah. Last year was a crazy year. It was
insane. A lot of stuff went on.
PR.com: Has everything calmed down to status quo or is your
head still spinning in circles?
Katrina Campins: I'm spinning more now than ever. I thought
that once The Apprentice 2 and 3 came about, there would be less tension on us;
it's actually been the opposite. Because we were the first, and because people
see us as being a lot more genuine; being there for the right reasons. So, we're
getting a lot more opportunities that maybe would have been sent their way.
Katrina Campins: Yeah, it's quite interesting. When I embarked
on this venture, I thought that it would destroy everything that I tried so hard
to prove in the business world. Once the show became the big phenomenon that it
had become, I realized that I needed to use it as a stepping stone to something
else rather than just, oh ok, here are my 15 minutes of fame, and let me enjoy
it while it lasts. Kwame and I see eye to eye on all of these things, and we
really want to use this to become not Donald Trump, but even bigger than Donald
Trump! It's been phenomenal for my career. I had a strong clientele beforehand,
but my dream has always been to have my own real estate brokerage, one stop
shop, powerhouse… so, I decided that, although it was sooner than I had expected
to do it, it was the perfect opportunity for me to branch out. And it's been
PR.com: And you're only 25! So, you're basically the classic
Katrina Campins: I'm a perfectionist and I'm anal retentive,
and the tough thing about it is that I'm my worst critic. I'm so tough on
myself, so my husband constantly reminds me, "your 25 years old!" I'm constantly
thinking… "I can be doing this, I can be doing that, why am I doing this?" Also,
I'm just very competitive with myself more than anything. In turn, I drive
PR.com: Well, I've done research on you, and you went to the
University of Miami, where you had a 4.0 GPA throughout your college
Katrina Campins: And I studied International Finance and
Marketing. It's funny, 'cause I really wanted to go to New York to study, and I
got a scholarship to Cornell and a bunch of other schools up there 'cause I'm
Hispanic, and because I had a great GPA and I was involved with so many things.
But then I fell in love with the real estate market, so that's why I stayed here
PR.com: What drove you to get your real estate license at
the age of 18? You could have just kicked back and enjoyed your college
experience, and not had to worry about the business world quite so soon.
Katrina Campins: It's interesting because most of my friends, I
would say, had the whole college experience. And I can honestly tell you that I
didn't because I spent most of my time in the library. Looking back, I was never
interested in partying on Thursday night like most college people did, and I
never even went out on a Thursday night until after college. I was the biggest
PR.com: What do you think it is that drives you to be such a
perfectionist in everything that you do?
Katrina Campins: I think my mother instilled that in me at a
very young age. She would always tell me that education is the one thing that no
one can take away from you. And she always told me, "don't depend on a man for
anything!" She always pushed me. I don't think I would have been this obsessive
compulsive had she not pushed me to always strive for the best.
PR.com: Was it something that you appreciated as a child, or
was it something that made you feel pressured?
Katrina Campins: In high school I would say that we fought like
cats and dogs. I would come home with an A- minus and she would be like, "why
didn't you get an A?" At the time of course I didn't appreciate that, and we got
in constant fights about that. Then in college I found myself doing it to
myself. She never even asked [about it]. It was just something I did on my
PR.com: So then her voice became your internal voice as you
Katrina Campins: It's scary! I actually just convinced her to
come and work with me at the company, and it's really scary how much I resemble
her. You know, you always say you don't want to end up like your mother, but you
PR.com: Right. You follow the pattern that you saw as a
child as you get older…
Katrina Campins: It's insane, it's scary! I watch things she
does, and I'm like, "oh my god, that's so me!"
PR.com: Have you ever passed by a mirror making a facial
expression and you see that it's your mother?
Katrina Campins: You know what's scary? When I watched myself
on television, I realized, she realized too, how many of the same faces we make.
Watching myself on TV was definitely very humbling. First of all, we didn't have
very much time to get ready. I felt like I looked like a disaster. My
grandmother was sending moisturizing cream to me saying, "if you keep making so
many faces, you're gonna wrinkle up before your time."
PR.com: When you watched yourself on The Apprentice, did you
say, "Ok, that's Katrina," or did you look at the screen and say "Who is this
person that I'm watching who looks like me?!"
Katrina Campins: Exactly! The second thing that you said. And
it was tough at first. I would say the first few episodes… I remember the third
episode was the episode that I actually screamed at Omarosa and told her to shut
up, and that was before she became a villain. I remember calling up producers
and telling them that they had ruined my life and that I could no longer leave
my house, because I couldn't walk into a Starbucks or a CVS [drugstore] without
people looking at me like I should be in jail for screaming at her. People were
so quick to judge. Then she became the villain, and the next episode after that,
I started getting fan mail because of it. So, it made me realize that the public
switches so quickly and that your persona is completely up for grabs.
PR.com: Do you think that the other cast members, including
Omarosa, came off the way that they were in person, or do you think it was the
magic of editing that created a lot of those personas?
Katrina Campins: I think some people came off exactly the way
they were, and I think others didn't. Amy actually said, "I think everyone came
off the way they really were except Katrina and Kwame." And people asked her,
why do you say that? And she said "Kwame is such a bright guy but he's also so
much more fun then they portrayed him." Kwame and I are very close and I always
tease him because I say, "if people didn't know you, they'd think you're such a
straight arrowed boring creature," and really, he's intelligent, he's got his
head on straight, but he's also A LOT of fun and a caring, caring person. He
loves to have fun and party, which you would never know…
PR.com: No, I would never have known that. Also, I'm sensing
a warm soft side to you that I didn't pick up on while watching The
Katrina Campins: When I was on the show, the cutthroat
environment was just not my nature. So, the first three episodes I was actually
pretty silent. And one of the producers said to me "boy, we thought you were a
casting mistake there for a second, because you didn't say anything."
PR.com: Did that make you sink inside, when you heard
Katrina Campins: Oh my god, when he said that, I was like
"casting mistake???" Because I went to the audition and I was very outspoken,
but when they put me in an environment with so many type A personalities, my
defense was to just shut up. I wish I had continued to shut up, because I think
it would have been better in the end. But Omarosa evoked emotions in me that my
best friend said she's never seen [in me before]. And you know what else was
weird? I found that a lot of people were camera whores, like Omarosa. She had it
planned out from point A. She told me, "villains get the most publicity in every
reality show. I've studied my reality shows." She knew what her mission
was, and if anything, I congratulate her for achieving it. It's not what I would
have chosen to do.
PR.com: So people became very media savvy, very quickly?
Katrina Campins: I would say she (Omarosa) was media
savvy. And I think Troy was media savvy. Troy had all these canned sayings that
he knew would get him to be America's Golden Boy. I was very naïve. Ereka
(Vetrini) and I talk about how naïve we were. I mean, we just didn't know. There
were times when I would run from the camera because I didn't want to do another
PR.com: Did you ever stop and think to yourself, "wait a
minute, I'm not an actress, I'm a real estate broker. Why am I being put in this
type of position?"
Katrina Campins: The first few days I was miserable and I was
thinking, "what have I done to myself? What am I doing here? This is insane."
[Once I came to bond with people], we all got very close very quickly, and I was
having fun. After Ereka was gone and Heidi was gone and a lot of people I got
along with were gone, I no longer was really passionate about it and that's when
I felt that I would have to become someone that I'm not in order to win the
game. I would have to backstab, lie and cheat. That's just something I didn't
want. Not only did I not want to do that, but I didn't want to be showcased as
that on television. So, I really didn't put up too much of a fight towards the
PR.com: Well you got pretty far…
Katrina Campins: I remember when I left, the producers were
screaming at me like, "why didn't you fight?! You weren't supposed to be gone!
Why didn't you fight? We've never seen you so mellow!" But, I always tell
myself, when you're no longer passionate, it's time to step out. And that's what
PR.com: That seems to be a big word for you. I've been to
your website several times and I noticed that you use the word "passion" in
describing your company's philosophy a lot.
Katrina Campins: That's really my philosophy in life…
PR.com: What's your definition of "passion?"
Katrina Campins: I would say it's something that you feel
inside for something that you do, and you're having fun doing it and you don't
realize that money's coming in because of it. I did very well financially thru
real estate but, it was unbelievable… Sometimes I would forget to cash my
checks. It's not why I did it. Now it's important for the cash to be coming in
to build the company. It's determination and drive. I don't think you can teach
PR.com: Are you of Cuban descent?
Katrina Campins: My dad's family is from Spain and my mom's is
from Cuba. I'm the only Latin person who's ever been on one of Donald Trump's
shows, and I spoke Spanish on the show, but it was never shown.
PR.com: Yeah, I never saw it mentioned, ever, that you are
Katrina Campins: People always think I'm American, it's so
funny. My mother, if you speak to her, has less of an accent then I do. My dad's
the one who has an accent. [My mom] looks like a white Jewish woman. She wishes
she were too.
PR.com: I'm Jewish…
Katrina Campins: Oh my god, you don't understand! First of all,
I told my mom I was gonna convert to Judaism, and all her friends are Jewish.
She thinks she's Jewish! It's so funny.
PR.com: But aren't you guys surrounded by so much Latino
culture in Miami?
Katrina Campins: Most of my friends are American. People in the
Latin [community] don't think I'm Latin at all. It's really strange. So they
treat me like a Gringa. It's so weird. Now, I've been doing so many things with
charities with the Latin community and so many Latin actors and singers and so
forth. So now, people are beginning to realize. But before then, I would say
that most of the people around me are Jewish. Jewish people have a great outlook
on life, and I think that's why they're so successful.
PR.com: When did you and your husband, Ben Moss, get
Katrina Campins: We got married August 14 here in Miami,
actually at one of Trump's buildings, and we'd been dating since I was 16.
PR.com: You never dated anybody except for each
Katrina Campins: Yup. We basically grew up together, I mean, we
were sixteen years old. So, you don't really know too much about life when
you're sixteen, although you think you do. He's become my best friend, he's
involved in my business now.
PR.com: Do you guys talk shop a lot in your downtime, when
you're just hanging out?
Katrina Campins: Yeah. Maybe too much.
PR.com: Do you have to tell each other to shut up and just
relax and have fun?
Katrina Campins: We had that conversation yesterday. We decided
that we have to have certain days of the week where we just don't talk about
PR.com: Tell me about 605 Lincoln Rd. because I know it's a very
prestigious property in Miami, and The Campins Company has an exclusive to
Katrina Campins: 605 Lincoln is the Sony Music Building on
Lincoln Rd. [in Miami] and what we're all trying to do together, with the
Lincoln Road Association, is we're trying to make it the next 5th Avenue of
Miami. There really isn't a 5th Avenue type street yet. And a lot of big time
tenants are coming to Lincoln Rd., Starbucks, Oakley, Apple Computer…there's a
lot of big tenants who are actually coming on board. With 605 [Lincoln], the
developer acquired the building, turned it into office condos and we sold 95% in
4 hours. It was a great response.
PR.com: That's incredible!
Katrina Campins: Yeah, we did very well. Much better then we
anticipated. Office condos are the next big thing here in Miami. Sony takes up
the sixth, seventh and part of the third floor. I'm on the third floor as well.
I bought my office condo where the Sony offices are.
PR.com: On NBC 6 in South Florida, you are hosting a show
called "Step Inside". Tell me about that…
Katrina Campins: They are segments that come on during The
Today Show, and the goal is to de-mystify the South Florida real estate market.
So many people are so confused on where to invest and what to do. Our goal on
the program is to showcase certain developments that I believe in, and that I
think are going to be successful and have strong people backing it up. I'm now
working together with some producers to develop a real estate based show about
different hot spots throughout the country. It would be a national show.
PR.com: I have this theory that the American Dream as we
know it has shifted somewhat, meaning that the new American Dream is to obtain
celebrity in order to then generate income from the cache that that celebrity
brings. Basically, obtaining celebrity status creates many avenues for
generating personal income that the average person doesn't have…
Katrina Campins: I would say that's something that's relatively
new, because of reality television. And people have seen how successful others
have become in reality television; Donald Trump being a perfect example. Now
Martha Stewart seems like she's gonna be more successful after being in
jail then before. So it's kind of strange the way that our culture and society
PR.com: Have you found that to be your personal experience?
Has being on The Apprentice created income and other career opportunities that
you never would have had if not for the show?
Katrina Campins: Most definitely! And I didn't realize the
power [of it]. I never really knew what stars names were, I was never really in
tune with it. I didn't watch much television, and I would say, since then, it's
actually taught me a lot about how our society feels about celebrities, and how
we treat them and how powerful they really are. A lot of times it's just
perception. But I've learned that perception creates reality, and it's how you
utilize it as a stepping stone. It's incredible how powerful television is. Mark
Burnett (Producer of The Apprentice) told me that 1 in every 3 people in the
United States saw [The Apprentice] finale. I said to him, "your self promotion
is exactly like Trump. You guys are rubbing off on each other." When I went out
into the streets, I realized, "boy, he really was right." People still to this
day, come up to me and tell me how influential the show was. Kids come up to me
and tell me they want to start a business.
PR.com: What were the circumstances in which you first found
out about The Apprentice auditions?
Katrina Campins: I was representing and actually still do,
represent a lot of NFL Players with their financial needs. One of the players I
was representing… his girlfriend was there and they were trying to rip him off,
and my claws came out at the meeting. We ended up getting the exact deal that we
anticipated, and so right after this she said, "oh, there's this show that was
on The Today Show and I think you would be perfect for it. She sent it to me
three times and I deleted the email and told her "no, no, no, no." And then
another great friend of mine actually taped me the day of the deadline and sent
it in and they called me. She followed me an entire day and I told her "get out
of my face, this is ridiculous, I'm not doing this." And she just came along
with me an entire day and I was just laughing like it was a joke. I didn't
really think she was gonna send it in, and she did! They called me the next day,
and I went for an interview and the next thing you know I was in LA.
PR.com: So it's almost as if it was meant to be. You were
pushing it away like the plague and it followed you and caught you.
Katrina Campins: I think everything happens for a reason, as
corny as that sounds.
PR.com: What would you say is the biggest life lesson either
professionally or personally that you learned from Donald Trump?
Katrina Campins: To brand yourself, because your name is
everything and if you can create an empire around that, then you've really
achieved success. And so, I actually renamed my company after going on the show
[to The Campins Company].
PR.com: Although he is extremely successful, nobody's
perfect…did you see anything that you think can be improved within his
Katrina Campins: I would say that he is great at what he does,
and he's a great businessman; don't get me wrong. But I think that his major
expertise is marketing and branding. I think he is a master of branding before
being a great businessman.
PR.com: It would seem that that is what he enjoys more then
being a businessman.
Katrina Campins: I think he is a frustrated entertainer. He
wants to be an entertainer more then a businessman. He just doesn't realize it,
and I think that now that's he's seen a little bit of it, he's really, really
PR.com: I think he's loving every minute of the show and the
franchise that it created.
Katrina Campins: Mmm hmm!
PR.com: There's a quote I found when I did some research on
you and this is the quote, "A woman that claims she doesn't use her sex appeal
to sell, simply hasn't learned how to use it to her advantage."
Katrina Campins: I knew you were gonna say that quote. (We both
giggle) Cause that's the only quote that people use with me, and it was the last
thing that I said before being sent [back] to Miami. The reason I said that is
because they were filming an NBC commercial and I knew that they needed some
good stuff, and they wouldn't let me go until I said something that was good. I
was sick and tired of the cameras and I had had it. So, I was like, "you want a
good quote, I'll give you a good quote!" What I meant by that and what I
strongly believe is that a woman has a distinct advantage over any man if she's
able to strike a delicate balance between femininity and respect.
PR.com: So you don't mind that quote being super glued to
Katrina Campins: I don't mind it because it allows me to really
explain to people what I meant by that. I think that I get a bad rap before
people actually meet me. A lot of my clients are women, cause women are the
primary decision makers when it comes to real estate. Men want to keep women
happy and sometimes they just give their wife their wallet and let them buy
whatever they want to buy. Most of the time it's real estate, because that's
what makes them happy. So a lot of the times, the women are making the
PR.com: In any sales process I've ever been involved in,
it's always the wife making the ultimate decision…
Katrina Campins: Yup, exactly! And there's always a strong
woman behind every man.
PR.com: You turned down a quarter of a million dollars to
pose for Playboy.
Katrina Campins: Yes.
PR.com: And you posed for FHM for free. Did it sting to turn
down all that cash, or did you not even give it a second thought?
Katrina Campins: I always said beforehand that I would never do
Playboy. It was something that I've never believed in, and I think that that's
pornography. There's a distinct line between FHM and Playboy. FHM to me is not
pornography, you're not naked. But, when that money was presented to me and I
was sucked up in that whole…well it was just so crazy and everything happened so
quickly. I thought about it for a second and I decided that it wasn't enough
money. I was pretty difficult with them. I told them I would do it for a million
dollars and they were like "we're not even giving Britney Spears a million
dollars! We wouldn't give you a million dollars!" (We both burst out in giggles)
So I was like, "I'm not interested."
PR.com: Wouldn't that fall along the lines of women using
their sex appeal to sell?
Katrina Campins: I think that women should use their femininity
and when I say femininity, I don't mean your breasts or your legs. I mean the
fact that you're a woman and that, in my mind, women are more powerful then men.
They just need to learn how to really embrace their femininity.
PR.com: Do you kind of feel like if women organized, we
could rule the world?
Katrina Campins: Yes! There's so many stupid men that right
now, are so powerful. It's because they have either a secretary or an assistant
behind them that's a woman, that's really covering their butt. There are so many
people who are perceived to be so powerful, and when I meet them, I'm just so
PR.com: Well, that's part of the celebrity illusion that we
were talking about before.
Katrina Campins: Mmm hmmm.
PR.com: It's got nothing to do with the person…
Katrina Campins: Nothing to do with the person, you're right.
PR.com: What do you think of a man using his sex appeal to
Katrina Campins: I think that men use their charm all the time
but it's not really brought to people's attention the way that it is when a
woman does it. I think on the show, Troy used his charm constantly. But that
wasn't ever seen as a negative. It was always seen as a positive. I think it's
done all the time. It's just that women have just recently become as powerful as
they are, and I think that it's almost men trying to bring women down in a
PR.com: I don't want us to come off as "Thelma and Louise"
in this interview (we both break up laughing) …
Katrina Campins: I love men, don't get me wrong. I think that
men are awesome. I get along with them so much better then I do with women…
Katrina Campins: They're very cut and dry like I am. I get
criticized all the time for being too cut and dry and people tell me, even my
husband tells me, "show me a little emotion," because my personality and my
emotions are so in line with that of a man's.
PR.com: That's something we have in common. I feel that I
can let my sense of humor fly more around men. When I'm in a business situation
with women, I find myself saying a lot, "let's take the emotion out of it and
just try to fix the situation"… Women have a hard time getting past the details,
whereas men can just go right into fixing mode.
Katrina Campins: Exactly… and men forget about things so
[easily]. They can get into a big fight and in an hour they're fine and jolly.
I've become more like that now. I would say when I was younger that I would hold
something deep in… if I was mad at someone, I would really hold it against them,
but now, I brush it off, and I say, "It only makes me stronger."
PR.com: Plus, holding a grudge isn't healthy, because if you
think about it…you're the one who's holding it…
Katrina Campins: ...and it just brings negative energy.
PR.com: If you could wave a magic wand and erase one
decision in your life, what would it be?
Katrina Campins: The only thing I can think of that was a
tragic part of my life is when my husband and I got assaulted right before our
wedding last year. I wish that I had never even parked in that lot and …
PR.com: Yeah, what happened there? Because there were some
reports that made it sound like you and your husband attacked these two
toe-truck drivers and it just didn't make any sense to me…
Katrina Campins: And when people meet my husband, they're like,
"he's just the nicest person. He doesn't have a bad bone in his body." He's a
much better person then I am. When the state attorney met him she was like,
"they said that he beat them up?? Yeah ok (sarcastically)." Again,
it's the media that's creating something that wasn't there, strictly for their
own purposes to sell magazines.
PR.com: Well, I'm glad that you're ok, and that your nose
Katrina Campins: Thank you.
PR.com: So what decision in your life are you most proud
Katrina Campins: I would say I'm pretty proud of myself for
starting this business (The Campins Company), because I could have taken the
easy way out and I could made a good living doing other things and not really
taken the risk. But I'm really proud of the fact that I actually took the risk,
and at my age decided to go out on my own. To work my behind off to get this
company going. My goal is really to just keep my family name going.
PR.com: Hence the name: The Campins Company. If you were an
outside observer to The Campins Company, what advice would you give yourself to
improve and grow the company?
Katrina Campins: To keep a positive outlook on life. My husband
says to me, "remember why you started this company. It's because you love what
you do and your passionate about it and because you wanted to achieve something.
You don't need to do this." It's funny, because we all make our lives so hectic
and difficult, but it really doesn't have to be that hectic and difficult. I
know that I put more pressure on myself then I ever need to. It's self
inflicted. You always dream of having a white picket fence and the dog…and there
really is no perfect life.
PR.com: A year and a half ago I adopted a dog. I never had
an animal in my life before…
Katrina Campins: What kind? We adopted a dog too?
PR.com: Oh really? I have a Shih Ztu, a little boy
Katrina Campins: Awww
PR.com: He just changed my whole way of looking at the
world. I'm still very ambitious, but he re-focused my mind to appreciate
simplicity. When I'm really stressed, I'll play with him and it completely
re-focuses my mind and relaxes me.
Katrina Campins: Isn't that funny? We have a field at the
University of Miami, and we'll go out there and throw a ball and sometimes I'll
look at my husband and he'll look at me and we think, "this is so relaxing."
It's time that you take for yourself and just forget about the world. I never
understood it when people said that their dog's are like their children. I would
jump in front of a gun, if someone tried to shoot her. She's made me look at
life completely different too. When you look at them and you look at kids and
see how carefree they are, it teaches you so much about life.
PR.com: The third season of The Apprentice is High School
educated contestants versus College educated contestants. Do you think a college
education is necessary for success?
Katrina Campins: No. Some of my most successful clients/friends
are high school grads. It's something I didn't even need for my industry. I
think that I would have been fine, and I think that I would have been even more
ahead then I am now had I not gone to college, because I would have used that
time to build a business. I did it for myself more then anything else.
PR.com: Where do you value street smarts and common sense
versus book smarts?
Katrina Campins: If you can have both, you're very, very
fortunate. So many people don't have common sense. Common sense is so critical.
Without that, you can't relate to the masses, and you can't relate to the people
that you're catering to; your target market. The older you become and the more
you become involved in the business world, you realize that connections and
relationships are everything.
PR.com: Personal relationships…
Katrina Campins: Oh my god, it's everything! You could be as
dumb as a rock and if you have great connections, you'll succeed.
PR.com: You have been lovely. Have a great Valentine's Day,
and don't talk about real estate.
Katrina Campins: I know, I know. No real estate talk (we both
Campins' PR.com Company Profile for The Campins Company