Mensa... OK let's have the truth... exactly how high is your IQ? Do you think that played a part in taking you this far in the game?
I think my IQ is decreasing by the minute, so who knows? Obviously, when it comes to business, there are more important things than raw IQ - hard work, organization, creativity, communication skills, etc. I had no idea they would play up the Mensa thing so much. I knew the first time I made a mistake my intelligence would be slammed, especially by Trump. It actually became a running joke in the suite. Coffee maker's broken? Ask the Mensa guy. Need to do long division? Ask the Mensa guy. Have a headache? Go see the Mensa guy. We all had a good laugh about it. Now that I'm fired, I'm going to apply for "Lensa," which is Lenny's version.
I've heard you've had a real rags-to-riches life. What has been the key to your success?
If you want to do a case study in the importance of good parenting, I'm your man. We didn't have much, but my parents sacrificed everything for me. My father was a work horse, working two and sometimes three jobs in a factory and in a kitchen. My mother is brilliant and emphasized education and the arts. I started out working at McDonald's and then worked at a sewage treatment plant for three summers, and as a result, I developed a solid work ethic. I'm not perfect, but I try hard to be a good guy. My faith, as a Catholic, played a large part in helping me avoid the pitfalls of growing up in some rough neighborhoods.
You seemed to have a very solid friendship with Lee. In fact, a lot of people like him, including, it seems, Mr Trump. It looks like Lee goes into the boardroom wearing Teflon. Stuff just bounces off him. Do you think that's going to carry him through to the end or is the politician side of Lee going to be his undoing?
This is a funny question, because Lee and I were not very good friends at all, actually. Early on, we had some major clashes that we really struggled to work through. Towards the end, we became more friendly and learned how to work together because Trump fired all of our allies. In the end, Lee hung me out to dry in the boardroom. I think Lee is a smart guy and has matured along the way, but politician or not, Trump seems to love him for whatever reason and that is singularly the most important thing in this game.
What's the best thing and the worst thing about being on The Apprentice?
By far the best thing is having the opportunity to branch out into other fields - lead a photo shoot, create and edit a commercial, write and compose a jingle. It's amazing how much you learn in a short period of time. The worst thing is that we typically have one day to complete a task, and people only see a very small fraction of what actually takes place. For the contestants, it's our first exposure to some modest fame, and people can write some nasty things as they wax poetic about how they could do it better.
You've been on the inside. Who should we be looking out for in the weeks ahead?
Of the eighteen contestants who started the competition, I believe only five have the ability to run one of Trump's companies.
If you were giving advice to future candidates what would it be?
Do the opposite of what you think: 1. Don't come up with "the" idea. If you win, you won't get the credit - the PM will. If you lose, you will shoulder all the blame. 2. Choose to be the PM on a "creative" task vs. an "event" or sales task. It is much easier to manage, there are fewer variables, and it is easier to defer the blame if you lose. 3. Keep in mind that the ultimate goal is not to win as a team, but to win as an individual. This is a tough thing to swallow if you are a competitor. Keep individual goals in mind. A great example of someone who did this well is Lee.
What's next for you?
I am writing a book for young men called "GUT CHECK: Confronting Love, Work, and Manhood in Your Twenties" due out in spring 2007. It's a semi-autobiographical look at the difficulties of discovering true manhood and happiness in your twenties. I've also created Lionheart Apparel (www.lionheartapparel.com), which will launch on August 15th, and we have plans for Lionheart Magazine (an online magazine for Catholic men), which will launch in mid-to-late 2007. The future is very bright!