NEW YORK — Fresh from his stint on "The Apprentice," Josh Shaw, chief operating officer of tooth-whitener brand GoSmile, has appointed himself "project manager" of a greater task — raising funds and awareness for Autism Speaks, a nonprofit organization that supports autism research.
His effort includes a motivational, self-published book, "Who Invented Lemonade," and a new GoSmile toothpaste flavor, dubbed Lemonade Smile.
Shaw, 30, became acquainted with the organization through Alison Singer, senior vice president of Autism Speaks, on his final episode of the NBC show. Donald Trump ultimately might have uttered the words "You're fired," but Singer was taken with Shaw's compassion and interest in autism.
Singer, who has an eight-year-old daughter with the disease, said autism affects one in every 166 children. She added that figure is inexplicably higher than it was 10 years ago, when one in 1,000 people were diagnosed.
Shaw approached Singer about working with GoSmile, and in less than four months the former apprentice-hopeful coauthored the book and developed the toothpaste. Half of the proceeds from the book will benefit Autism Speaks and 5 percent of the profits from Lemonade Smile will go to the organization.
"After meeting with Alison, I felt like I had to have an impact on Autism Speaks," said Shaw.
GoSmile, which is affiliated with the charity Operation Smile, backed Shaw's philanthropic pull.
Lemonade Smile features Autism Speaks' blue puzzle-piece logo, which is meant to represent the mystery that surrounds the disease. Singer explained that GoSmile wanted to include the logo on the toothpaste tube to give the awareness campaign a boost.
GoSmile is now in talks with several of its retail partners, such as Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue, to create a so-called "lemonade stand," which would display Lemonade Smile — and offer shoppers cups of lemonade. GoSmile will launch Lemonade Smile in January at retailers such as Sephora, Barneys New York and Bergdorf Goodman. A travel-sized tube will be priced at $5 and a full-sized, 3.5-oz. tube will be available for $16. Visitors to gosmile.com will be able to purchase the book and toothpaste for $26.
The book "Who Invented Lemonade" is a short story modeled after "Who Moved My Cheese," with a forward written by Donald Trump. The story, based on Shaw's own childhood experiences, centers on a young grade-schooler named Billy who is grappling with the death of his father. Billy's mother tells him an inspirational tale about a young prince who overcomes life's challenges — or "lemons" — and, along the way, invents lemonade. Shaw's own father passed away when he was 14 years old."I've always had a business drive, but it was amped up after my father died," said Shaw, who said he became a millionaire at age 24 after being one of the poorer kids in his neighborhood growing up in Rye Brook, N.Y.
Next month, the book will be available on gosmile.com, Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com. Shaw is currently looking for a publisher.
Shaw's determination to get the project down before the Dec. 15 airing of "The Apprentice" finale illustrated the key message of his book: "If you put your mind to it, you can achieve anything."
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