Upcoming speakers at UTC during M.L. King Jr. Celebration, Black History Month

Friday 11 a.m. Randal Pinkett, Season four winner of “The Apprentice,” speaks for Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration at the University Center Auditorium. The event is free and open to the public.

The next two speakers are also free and open to the public but organizers ask those who want to attend to register by sending their name and organization to Registration closes at 5 p.m. Feb. 20.

Feb. 24 from 5:30 - 7:30 p.m. Dwaun Warmack, president of Harris-Stowe State University, speaks during the Black Issues Summit: Against the Isms.

Feb. 25 Grammy Award-winning music producer and actor David Banner gives main address.

Randal Pinkett, the only black person to be hired by Donald J. Trump during his run on the TV show "The Apprentice," is coming to Chattanooga as part of UTC's celebration of civil rights leader the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

Pinkett said his passion is entrepreneurship and economic empowerment for communities.

He cited a recent report that eight men, the richest people on the planet, hold as much wealth as that owned by half the world's population. He said the gap between the rich and the poor is increasing, but entrepreneurship can combat that.

"If you look at where wealth is created, it's created by owning businesses and creating jobs," Pinkett said.

Trump chose Pinkett as the winner out of 16 participants in season four of "The Apprentice" in 2005. After his win, Pinkett served as an executive with Trump Entertainment Resorts in Atlantic City, N.J.

He will speak at 11 a.m. Friday at the University Center Auditorium on the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga's campus.

Pinkett, who speaks on the same day Trump will be sworn in as the 45th president of the United States, is concerned about how Trump will run the country as president.

"At a time when our country needs someone to bring it together, I believe Donald in many ways made things worse," he said. "While he has said he wants to be the president for all Americans, I have yet to see a convincing sign that he can be the president of all Americans."

UTC Department of Communication academic adviser Nicole Brown said she hopes attendees, and especially university and high school students, can learn from Pinkett.

"With Chattanooga being the Innovation District and he's an entrepreneur, we hope to see future entrepreneurs come out of our university," she said. "I don't want to make it an African-American thing," she said. "This is for everybody's benefit. It's for the community of all cultures."

Pinkett, born in 1971, holds five academic degrees including a doctorate in media arts and sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is the only black Rhodes Scholar from Rutgers University.

"We are a country that is divided," he said. "And if there is any lesson that we learned from Dr. King, it is that we are a much stronger nation when we are united than when we are apart."

One way to fix the divide is to form relationships and gain more understanding from people who have ideologies different than your own, he said.

"More and more it is becoming us versus them, but unless we build bridges between us and them, we're going to continue to have misunderstandings, continue to have differences in opinion where we're unable to find common ground," Pinkett said.

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at or 423-757-6431.