BOISE - It was considered “Must See TV” in 2004. Donald Trump’s hit reality show "The Apprentice" owned Thursday night on television.
And Boise’s Troy McClain was the darling of the country. That didn’t stop when Trump uttered the famous “You’re fired” words in the Trump Tower board room. Trump said moments later it was one of the most difficult firings of his career.
But, being fired by the man who became his mentor and philanthropic inspiration wouldn’t stop the meteoric rise for McClain.
He made appearances on "Regis and Kelly," the "Today" show and "The Tonight Show."
"Oh, look there’s me and Jay...oh look at that...ya, me and Jay Leno." Said McClain as he looked at pictures hung in a hallway in his West Boise office.
Boise's Troy McClain still on the Trump Train
He hired an agent who fielded advances from television shows and even the big screen. And he settled on a reality show that brought family and friends together to find and renovate a home for loved ones in need. “Homestars” ran for three seasons on cable television.
But, Troy McClain felt he had a higher calling than one as a pop culture icon whose flame might be burning out soon.
So, he turned to the man who started it all for advice.
"Trump would talk about being a job creator” McClain recalled in his country twang.
“He would say ‘Troy you need to be a job creator.' And I'd say; 'Naw, I'm a speaker, I'm this and I’m that.’ And he'd say ‘You are a solo-preneur you’re not a job creator!' "
So with that, McClain formed Troy McClain Companies - a marketing, and business management firm focused, he says, on growing people and business to great heights.
One that has taken him all over the world, logging 200,000 air miles for presentations.
The cornerstone is something he named AXS. "AXS inspires, uplifts and serves." said McClain
It’s a social network that promotes building business and giving back to the community. He is motivated and passionate about both elements.
He is most proud of the hallway in his office that he calls the Give Back Affirmation hall. It is filled with pictures of the nonprofits that he and his companies have supported and started up. They number in the dozens, iIncluding the Idaho Special Olympics - which holds a special place in his heart.
"There’s my kid sis! She’s doing awesome!" McClain screamed with a huge smile.
His Alaskan adopted sister Doralynn was born deaf and developmentally disabled. He helped raise her while looking after his single mother in Montana.
And, much of what McClain has become is due to the inspiration he says his sister has given him.
"His mom and Doralynn were pretty dependent and a huge part of his life...and yet he never once associated them as 'baggage’” said McClain’s wife, Crystal.
Because of having to grow up so early in life with a single mom and special needs sister it should come as no surprise that most of his company's projects are geared toward empowering women. A mix of giving back, and creating jobs.
"If I can empower a group of ladies - who then become community leaders - that protects my kid sister, that protects my community and that creates jobs,” said McClain proudly.
When it comes to a "release" from his 100-mile-per-hour lifestyle it’s on the mat located just down the hall from his office.
He is a three-time gold medalist in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and trains every day.
Black Belt Mitch Coats is his coach and also a Troy McClain business disciple.
Coats started his business with a handful of students and, after studying the McClain business principles, has over 150 students.
"He's my mentor and what he’s done for me and my business in invaluable," Coats said.
You can’t spend time with Troy McClain without talking Trump. His presence is everywhere in an office that employs 25 dedicated McClain workers. From bobble heads, to pictures, to handwritten letters with Trump’s flamboyant signature covering most of the page.
McClain says he is in contact with the Trump team and wants to bring him to Idaho before the November election.
And he is not surprised that the man from the tall tower in Manhattan has risen to the top of the GOP ticket.
"I think attraction to Trump is the leadership,” said McClain. “I think the attraction is the fact that he is not a politician. He is unapologetic for his comments, he is unapologetic about his quotes...he isn’t guarding his words and it feels right. Even if you don’t agree with it you say, ‘At least he is going to tell the truth."
And when the question arises that he gets most often right now?
"When he makes it to the White House...am I gonna have a better seat? Probably not - but I am gonna have a good reflective glass to say, 'Hey, I knew that guy once!’