Drew Lachey is a triple threat: He can sing, dance (ballroom!) and... design your house? "I've always been into the home-improvement side of things. My wife and I have never had a designer," Lachey tells TVGuide.com. "If you walked in, you could probably tell." The former Dancing with the Stars champ will impart some of his decorating wisdom as host of the new HGTV reality series $250,000 Challenge (premieres Sunday at 10 pm/ET), which pits five neighborhood families against each other in weekly do-it-yourself remodeling challenges for the titular cash prize. See what else Lachey had to say about his new gig, helping his brother out around the house and why he wanted Shawn Johnson to win Dancing.
TVGuide.com: What drew you to this? Have you always been into interior decorating?
Drew Lachey: Well, when you say interior decorating, it doesn't sound very masculine! [Laughs] I've been doing this since I was around 20 years old — when I bought my first house in Cincinnati — and I just learned as I went. I have friends in Cincinnati who are contractors, pipe-fitters and stuff, and they really exposed me to that world. Then I did a one-episode spot last year on another HGTV show [Summer Showdown] and I expressed that this was something I enjoyed doing in my own life.
TVGuide.com: How is this different from the glut of home-improvement shows out there?
Lachey: I think it's dissimilar in more ways than they are similar. On other shows, they have [professionals] renovating. Here, the reins are given completely over to the families. They're also competing against other people on the street who are doing the exact same thing. Plus, you have five families, so you can see all the different tastes and styles.
TVGuide.com: There's been talk that the show reflects our grim economic times.
Lachey: Definitely. It's $250,000 for somebody who might have their home about to be foreclosed on or has student loans coming out their ears. Every one of these families has their own story about why they needed this money. For the family that won, it really is going to transform their lives. For everybody that's involved, they walked away with a new set of skills, confidence to be able to tackle things in their own home, and not to mention at least one room that was transformed. It was a win-win for everyone, including me.
TVGuide.com: The first episode is about repurposing. What's your favorite thing that you've repurposed?
Lachey: Hmm... that's a good question. Our old kitchen table from our first house in Ohio is my desk now. I go to the Rose Bowl flea market and find things, like filing cabinets, an old card catalog thing from a library. I have an old church pew in my foyer. There are a bunch of things.
TVGuide.com: Do you feel like you missed your calling?
Lachey: [Laughs] Not at all! I don't do it every day, so it's still fun for me. If it were [my job], I'd be like, "Ugh." You'd never do a thing in your own house because you do everyone else's. I get to balance different aspects of my life — be a performer and do Broadway or ballroom dancing — but at the end of day, I can come home and strap on a tool belt.
TVGuide.com: We saw you on Newlyweds helping Nick out a few times. My favorite was when you used a forklift to get something over the balcony.
Lachey: Yeah, there were a couple of those! We had to use a forklift to get arcade games up, a ladder across a hill to drag up a corner piece that wouldn't fit in the door. If it worked, it was my idea. If it didn't, it was Nick's idea! He's actually evolved into getting an interior decorator, but if he needs something done in the garage, I can do it.
TVGuide.com: I saw that you wanted Shawn to win Dancing with the Stars. Are you no longer cheering for Cheryl?
Lachey: [Laughs] Oh my God! They asked, "What celebrity do you want to win?" Well, I didn't know Cheryl was going up against Shawn. I thought Gilles was going up against her. Of course, I always want Cheryl to do well, but being a celebrity who has competed, I understand what they're going through. Shawn, being 17 and going through that, really kind of endeared her to me — not to mention, I really enjoyed the power in the way she danced.
TVGuide.com: A lot of people loved when you temporarily co-hosted the show and want you there full-time in some capacity. Would you come back?
Lachey: If Samantha [Harris] gets pregnant again, I'll come back! I think the show works well the way it is. Two men hosting that show, it may be a little too much for people to adapt to. It works better with a man and a woman. But I do have a knowledge that not many people have on the show, and Tom [Bergeron] and I have a great rapport, so I would go back given the right opportunity.
TVGuide.com: You could redecorate the ballroom.
Lachey: Absolutely! It needs a little work. It's looking a little old. They need a whole overhaul, man.