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Dawn Patrol

Nicole Lapin, an anchor at CNBC, sees cigars as a natural tool to create camaraderie
Mervyn Rothstein
From the Print Edition:
Paul Giamatti, January/February 2011

It’s 3:17 in the morning on an unseasonably warm Tuesday in late November in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey, and Nicole Lapin is hard at work.

Lapin, the 26-year-old co-anchor of CNBC’s “Worldwide Exchange,” is sitting at her office desk, cell phone in hand, in a three-way conference call with her colleagues in Europe and Asia. Their subjects of discussion include the day’s Dow Jones futures; North Korea’s deadly shelling of a South Korean fishing village (and its likely effect on world markets); an FBI raid on three hedge funds suspected of insider trading; the reaction to the bailout of the Irish economy; and the monthly survey of the United States residential real estate market.

The call continues as she gets up and walks down the hall to the network’s makeup and hairstyling room, where two experts work in tandem, quickly and skillfully, to make her cosmetically ready for the camera. By now it’s 3:31 a.m., and in 29 minutes, she will be at another desk, just down the hall in the cavernous, blue-walled and high-ceilinged TV studio in the world headquarters of CNBC, the global business-news network, working with her coanchors in London and Singapore, as “Worldwide Exchange” begins its two-hour report on what has happened, what’s happening right now, and what is likely to happen later that day, in the wide and volatile world of high finance.

The program, a rapid-fire mix of reporting, interviews, visual aids and computer graphics—featuring correspondents, commentators and business experts worldwide—is the network’s most widely distributed news program, available in more than 100 countries.

Lapin is considered by many to be a rapidly rising star in the TV-news universe. At 22, she was hired by CNN as its youngest anchor. Her move to CNBC in early 2010, with a regular program, one that focuses on no-nonsense business reporting, increased her profile and continued to establish her as a serious journalist, not just a broadcaster with a pretty face (although that face certainly garners notice). She has, she says, no objections to being considered a news nerd. Her work ethic—sometimes it’s 18 hours a day in the office—and her eagerness to succeed mark her as someone to keep an eye on. And, she says, cigars play an important role in her job (but more about that later).

“I’ve never been on such a dynamic show,” Lapin says; it’s a few minutes after 6 a.m. and she is in her company’s cafeteria, winding down after 120 minutes of airtime and dipping a fork into a plastic container of cubed watermelon. “There’s a lot to talk about. There are so many moving parts. So much is happening. There’s such an intensity. My adrenaline is always flowing. And I love it. I love days like today, trying to make sense of it all, to flesh out all the rapidly moving facts and make them coherent, juggle the many different types of stories, pulling together all this data very quickly. There’s so much on my computer screen—so many open applications, charts, e-mails. And you can’t really script on a 24-hour-type news show. Most of it is ad lib. It comes out of my brain, hopefully eloquently. You’re putting together a very first rough draft of history.”

For the petite, svelte Lapin—her inherited beauty comes from her mother Orly, a former Miss Israel—creating that first version of history takes a major part of the 24 hours in a day. And getting where she is today took a significant quantity of, to use her description, chutzpah—a quality that perhaps compensates for her relative lack of downtime.

“My schedule?” Lapin replies when asked about her typical workday. “The short answer is there is no schedule. I make time for the things I need or want to do. When I go to sleep and when I wake up depend on what’s happening that day.”

So how much sleep does she get? “Sunday night, for example, I got into bed about 8. I fell asleep about 9. I woke up about midnight and started reading—the newspaper websites, The Wall Street Journal,, the wires, our planning reports. My car picked me up about 2. I live in Hell’s Kitchen on the West Side of Manhattan right across the river so it’s an easy trip. I kept on reading in the car. I’m always reading something—iPhone apps, our planning reports. Then I came in and did the show”—for the broadcast, she is alone at her anchor desk in a corner of the large studio, which, though lively by day, is almost deserted in the middle of the night. Her producer, Adam Idleberg, sits a few feet away, providing company and guidance. In front of her are preset lights and a fixed, unmanned camera, aimed at her face. The program itself is produced from London, with which she is in constant contact.

“After the show I did a report on the financial markets on ‘Morning Joe’ on MSNBC. And later I did the 4 p.m. closing bell report on the stock market.”

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Comments   1 comment(s)

William Fricker — Andalusia, Pa.,19020, USA,  —  March 23, 2011 2:19pm ET

Great Article.I enjoyed reading it and learning about Nicole Lapin.She is a very driven Lady
and will truly be a winner at what taskes she
decides to take on.

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