Did military man-turned-software exec Kelly deserve to win The Apprentice? Did the finale's "ambush" on rival Jennifer Massey surprise him at all? And what is his one big concern about his new gig working for Donald Trump? Here, TV Guide Online has all the answers from Kel, uh, we mean Mr. Perdew.TV Guide Online: Congratulations. Have you had a busy weekend?
Kelly Perdew: It's been insane; I slept an hour and a half the first night. I did Today in New York, then did The Tonight Show in L.A. And I've done interviews in the limo, preboarding, after getting out there... It's just been a whirlwind. TVGO: Compared to Season 1's "reduced-fat" finale, watching you and Jen watch Regis Philbin poll the audience diminished the suspense of Trump's final decision. Your take?
Kelly: Sitting backstage and watching it, I was gaining confidence as more and more people spoke out. I think five or eight people spoke, and then Jen's boss went, and he was obviously for her. Then they cut to a commercial, so I turned to Jen and said, "Wow. Your segment's probably after the commercial." But then they came back and more people voted for me. The big moment was when my [former Army] commander said that I could lead him; that was totally humbling. I was like, "No matter what happens, this is a big win." But when we got [into the final boardroom,] I didn't know if I was being set up for a big fall. TVGO: During Trump's final boardroom spiel, did you think for even a second that Jen had won?
Kelly: Once we got to that point, where he was questioning my military-translating-into-business experience, I had already kind of said everything that I wanted to say about my consistency, my background, my experience. So I figured, "It's out of my hands." TVGO: Did the video feed you and Jen were watching backstage show that unsettling promo for the "talking Donald Trump bobblehead doll"? We at home were skeeved out by it!
Kelly: I did not see that. (Laughs) But I think, in the episode prior to the finale, I did see it in the corner of my screen. TVGO: Some say that, at 37 — a full seven years older than the others in the final four — you're a touch long in the tooth to be the Apprentice.
Kelly: People don't sit in jobs anymore until they get the gold watch; you have to re-create yourself every three or four years. I have always been bootstrapped in growing my businesses, but the breadth of Trump's network is phenomenal. Just over the course of the interview, I got to play tennis with John McEnroe on Center Court at the U.S. Open, jam with Billy Joel at a theater on Broadway, talk with Rudy Giuliani about leadership. Mr. Trump's Rolodex is a Who's Who. I don't care how old you are, there is a lot to be gained from a year of living in that world, networking with those people and learning from Donald Trump himself. TVGO: Your final task was the charity polo match. Just how dirty were the box seats that you led Trump to?
Kelly: (Laughs) They were not pretty. I had a list of 200 items that we needed to get done, so when he showed up and went to [his box], I had my fingers crossed that somebody had cleaned up. What I think happened is [early arrivals] had poached the good chairs. TVGO: Why did you pick Raj for your team if you knew he wasn't exactly president of the Kelly Fan Club?
Kelly: This is what was interesting about how the finale was edited: Raj, John and Elizabeth really went out and kicked butt for me. I know during the first part, they showed Raj talking a lot of smack, but he performed. To top that all off, who would you want using big words and looking like a dandy with a bow tie on at a polo match? It was a perfect fit. TVGO: One of Carolyn's beefs was that you seemed glued to your laptop. What were you doing, bidding up G.I. Joes on eBay?
Kelly: I don't look at that as a negative. What sometimes eluded the viewing audience, in my mind, is how complex and difficult all the tasks actually were, and I was on the laptop every task. After our first loss with Pamela as the lead, I even implemented a 20-point checklist procedure for future project managers. We then won five in a row. TVGO: We also asked Jennifer M. this question about you: Do you think your West Point and Army experience got extra play because of the "current world climate"?
Kelly: Hmm... Maybe? I think that was the "character" they attempted to portray me as: "OK, he's the military guy." But I think I broke the stereotype by drawing dresses for the fashion show [and] doing the creativity for the Pepsi bottle design. Most Americans are pretty proud of military people, so I don't know in what climate it would not have been helpful. Add in 12 years of business experience, and I think you get a compelling package. Mr. Trump did, too. TVGO: During the last task, you said in an interview, "I don't respect Jen." Has your opinion changed at all?
Kelly: She's intelligent. She's very articulate. And she is very, very good in the boardroom environment of the show. That's the reason that, even though things were going my way [during the finale], I knew I'd have to go out there and be sure to get my words out. The last thing I wanted to do was get into a screaming match. TVGO: Which tasks did you most and least enjoy?
Kelly: I loved working with Kevin and Ivana on the Pepsi task; we were like a machine in terms of efficiency and brainstorming. We kicked it. And the icing on that was we got to drive Lamborghinis for the reward. The task I liked the least was the first one, the Mattel task that Pamela led. From an efficiency standpoint, we operated at about 65 percent. That's what I hate — if I put it all out there and you beat me, congratulations to you. But if I don't go all out and I lose... TVGO: Was scoring a NYC-based job a plus?
Kelly: In thinking about this, trying to [predict] all the different possibilities, I anticipated the choices would be New York and Las Vegas. And my decision became crystal clear sitting next to Mr. Trump during the last commercial break — be 1700 miles away in Las Vegas, or one mile away and able to have lunch with him, update him? That's apprenticeship, actually being part of business meetings. But it's also a little more pressure because he gets to see you all the time! (Laughs)