Another day, another interview for Giuliana Rancic.
The former E! News host, then known as Giuliana DePandi, had logged serious hours on red carpets, sat down with countless celebrities and regularly traded pleasantries in Italian with George Clooney. What was so special about this day—assignment: interview Bill Rancic, the winner of the first season of The Apprentice—in 2005?
Well, there was something a little different about it.
"I would watch [The Apprentice] with my girlfriend Colette every week, and Colette's like, 'You need to marry him.' I'm like, 'I do need to marry him,'" Giuliana recalled on HuffPost Live years later. "So that's why when the assignment came up at E! I was all over that."
That she was—but in impeccable rom-com fashion, Bill was instantly smitten, too.
"What's your life like, as far as romance and love, have you..."? Giuliana asked, to which the sweetly flustered Bill replied, "It's been...how 'bout yours? Let's turn this around."
And she said, "Okay, honest, I'm very busy, I work a lot, so I haven't found any time." Then he agreed, "That's how it is for me." It had been a good year, Bill acknowledged, and "when I find the right one it's the right one." He teased Giuliana about all the young California surfer types she must meet, and she protested, "No, I like a business man."
And then he proposed.
Well, not exactly, but there was flirtatious talk of marriage and looking like a good couple—all of it captured on camera, because they couldn't help it that the sparks were flying nonstop mid-interview.
Now married for almost 15 years and the parents of son Duke, who turns 10 on Aug. 29, the devoted duo who knew pretty much right away that they wanted to spend forever together have built a powerhouse partnership. Harrowing times, such as Giuliana undergoing treatment for breast cancer in 2011, have since melded with the triumphs, like the birth of their son via gestational carrier after several failed rounds of IVF, to become part of the fabric of their enduring, ongoing love story.
"The fun, the laughs, the adventure, raising our wonderful son…the tears and heartache…all of it…there's no one I would rather experience this life with than you," Giuliana wrote to Bill on Instagram for their 14th wedding anniversary last Sept. 1. "I thank God every day for bringing us together."
He returned the favor, writing to his bride, "The past 14 years my life has exceeded my dreams! Let the adventures continue!!"
And those adventures come in all shapes and sizes.
"Bill and I do a lot of really cool things as adults...a lot of things we love," Giuliana told Chicago's Splash magazine in 2020. "But there is nothing that even comes close to the joy we get from our son and our family together. It's just a different type of joy."
Added Bill, "Family is everything to us. Family first."
And what do you know, Giuliana got the scoop on whether Bill liked kids or not when they first met.
"I have seven nieces and nephews," the proud uncle told her. Asked if he saw kids in his future, he replied, "Of course, many."
Giuliana told E! when their son was born in 2012 that she and Bill felt "blessed beyond words" to become parents. And while they haven't ruled out the possibility of Duke having a sibling one day, they're leaving that up to a higher power, too.
"Nothing quite yet to put out there [as far as news goes]," she told Splash. "We'll put it in the big man's hands above, but we'd love to. What's meant to be will be."
And don't these two know it.
"When we first met, I think we knew there was something special," Bill recalled of that momentous moment on the Today show in 2013. "On our second date—this is what we tell people—we were making plans for six to seven months in advance, which I had never done in my life before. I think it was the third or fourth date when she came to Chicago, and that was it. That was the weekend we both knew it would be it for us. It was the rest of our lives."
However, it sounds as though they were making plans from day one.
On the morning that they met, Giuliana and her E! crew showed up to interview Bill about, sure, his love life, but also about the fact that he was auctioning off the car he had won on The Apprentice to benefit kidney cancer research, having lost his father to the disease in 1999. "I'm going to personally deliver the keys to whoever wins the car, so I'll be driving the car up to your driveway—hopefully it's your driveway," Bill said. And should he forget to wipe his home address from the navigational system, he informed her, "You're more than welcome to come over any time."
Their first date was dinner in Malibu where, according to Bill, "We knew instantly." He told ABC News, "We were making plans for three, four months out. That was on our first date. We had our phones out and we were like, 'In July, I gotta go here, maybe you can meet me,' and this was in March, two hours into the first date. It was the craziest thing ever.
When the Italian-born, Washington, D.C.-raised host did finally roll up in his hometown of Chicago, "I rolled out the red carpet," Bill said on Today.
"Cubs game, Giordano's pizza and a gift basket waiting in her hotel when she arrived," he remembered. "I cooked her dinner. It was just so much fun. We were with all my buddies; just a wild three days. It was Memorial Day weekend, I think eight years ago, and that was it. That was the end of my dating world."
His three sisters helped him prepare for the day he knew he wanted to propose—Dec. 15, 2006.
Once again, Giuliana was flying in from Los Angeles to visit, and he was returning that day from a business meeting in Detroit, so he had a limo pick her up at the airport. And then, after taking her about a mile, the driver pulled over.
"You see, for some reason they sent a stretch limo and they had this big driver, then the limo pulls over on the side of the road in a desolate area," Bill remembered that night to ABC News in 2014. "She was understandably upset and worried. She was freaking out. But, he gets out, opens the door and I'm standing there."
"I had a helicopter waiting," he continued, "and told her we were going to look at the Christmas lights, which Chicago is known for. We got up there and were drinking champagne and had Michael Bublé playing in the background, then we flew over Michigan Avenue. That's when I got down on one knee."
He then proceeded to smash a champagne flute with that one knee, but their mutual excitement ruled the moment.
"'Life together is going to be an adventure, just like tonight,' I told her," Bill recalled, noting that he didn't technically ask her to marry him. "That was it. She said, 'Yes.'"
They tied the knot on Sept. 1, 2007, in a dream ceremony on the isle of Capri.
"Here we are eight years later," Bill said. "We constantly are improving as partners. Our trick is something we simply call 'checking in.' Every couple weeks or every month, we talk about the marriage and things that may be bothering us, but also things we like. When I know she likes something, I'm committed to doing more of it."
After selling their L.A. home in 2020, the couple now live primarily in Chicago (where they're co-owners of restaurants RPM Steak, RPM Seafood and Pizza Portofino) and spend summers at their vacation home in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.
They're also both still actively working on behalf of those battling cancer, Giuliana in her work with Fab-U-Wish, in collaboration with the breast cancer nonprofit the Pink Agenda, while Bill has teamed for several years with Astellas Oncology on its #C3Prize, which provides grants to businesses with the best non-treatment ideas to improve cancer care.
"I always say marriage and kids are the two things that will affect your life from that day on," Bill said in 2014. "So, you better make those decisions wisely, marriage probably more so because the day you get married, everything you do from that point on is different. It's no longer 'I,' it's 'We.'"
Giuliana stepped down from her longtime post co-hosting E!'s live red carpet coverage after the 2021 award season wrapped up but her professional plate remains full with her NBCUniversal development deal, HSN clothing line G by Giuliana and her Fountain of Truth skin care line—any of which Bill is happy to consult on when asked.
"I think a lot of it is leaving your ego at the door," Giuliana told Splash. "There are things I know and things I don't. Recognizing and leaning on someone that does know is important."
Added Bill, "We both know our strengths and weaknesses and how we can help each other. It's a good formula for us."
And he knows from personal experience that Giuliana is one hell of an interviewer.
(Originally published Aug. 17, 2020, at 1:10 p.m. PT)