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Entrepreneur: Friend or Faux?

A look at celebs' business bona fides.
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These days, it seems everyone's an entrepreneur. Actresses sell jewelry on TV, models start clothing lines, and athletes open restaurants. But what actually is an entrepreneur? By our definition, it's a hands-on operator who relies on creativity and hard work to build a self-sustaining enterprise that employs people and earns a profit. Here's our assessment of some high-profile people who are sometimes referred to as entrepreneurs.

Rossano Rubicondi

Claim to fame:
Married Ivana Trump (he's hubby No. 4) at Mar-a-Lago in April.

Business bona fides:
Described variously as a "former male model," a "fledgling actor," and an "Italian entrepreneur," Rubicondi opened Da Rossano, a restaurant in St.-Tropez, in 2006, reportedly with financing from his future wife.

Is he really an entrepreneur?
No. Within a few months of launching the business, Rubicondi announced that he was hiring a professional manager to run it for him. A London tabloid quoted him as saying he wanted to be "free to be with Ivana more." Can you imagine the Donald delegating away his authority? Neither can we. (Rubicondi was on his honeymoon and could not be reached for comment.)

Crystle Stewart

Claim to fame:
The 26-year-old Texas beauty was crowned Miss USA in April.

Business bona fides:
Her two-year-old company, Inside/Out, offers self-improvement classes, motivational speeches, and plans birthday parties for girls and young women in Missouri City, Texas. "These are things I was doing for friends already," Stewart says, "so why not make it into a business?"

Is she really an entrepreneur?
Yes. Miss USA runs the business herself and is taking steps to build it into a nationwide chain of charm schools. "Modeling schools don't have character education, they don't talk to students about sexuality and peer pressure, and they don't teach them how to make a wise decision," Stewart says. "That's what I will offer."

Lenny Dykstra

Claim to fame:
Gritty outfielder nicknamed Nails won a World Series with the New York Mets and played in another with the Philadelphia Phillies.

Business bona fides:
Built an impressive investment portfolio, operated a successful chain of car washes in California, and recently launched Players Club, a personal-finance and lifestyle magazine for pro athletes.

Is he really an entrepreneur?
Yes, he's home safe. Though Dykstra is better known as an ace stock picker than a business owner, he initially financed his investing career with the proceeds from his car washes. He actively ran them and came up with clever marketing gimmicks -- different levels of waxing and detailing included the premium Home Run and Grand Slam packages.

Correction: The original version of this story erroneously suggested that an events business owned by Crystle Stewart, Miss USA 2008, also sold books.

Last updated: Jun 1, 2008




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