TV One Strikes Ford Sponsorship Deal

A real-life "Apprentice"-style competition that Ford has backed at a grassroots level for several years is coming to TV, allowing the automaker to expand its involvement.

The competition, the "Ford HBCU Business Classic," features African-American college students competing to develop the most viable business plan.

A documentary-type, hour-long special on TV One -- which will carry the same name as the competition itself -- will chronicle the five finalist teams from historically black colleges and universities. Ford will advertise in the show, which will have multiple airings after its Aug. 2 debut, with exclusivity in the auto category.

In 47 million homes, TV One targets an African-American audience with general-interest entertainment and lifestyle programming. Radio One and Comcast are the lead investors.

The TV special offers a behind-the-scenes look at the competition's final round -- from the five teams' arrival in Atlanta to their 48 hours of final prep through their presentations to a panel of judges. The teams come from universities, including Howard and Florida A&M, with one of the judges being "Apprentice" winner and businessman Randal Pinkett.



TV One Chief Revenue Officer Keith Bowen said the show is "a real-life reality competition show that has all the drama that one can find in other, not-so-real reality competition shows. And it has a wonderful, underlying purpose -- to help educate and develop future business leaders in a hands-on way that goes beyond what they can learn in a classroom alone."

The winning team receives $35,000 in scholarship funds and an additional $15,000 for their school. Ford has provided the funds since the competition debuted five years ago.

Crystal Worthem, multicultural marketing manager for Ford, said in the current economy, "it is as important as ever that we continue to foster the development of future business leaders and entrepreneurs."

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