Let's all say it together: Aaron Altscher got stung last week on NBC's The Apprentice, when his oversight of a Sue Bee Honey-peddling task delivered sales that were anything but sweet. TVGuide.com asked the 25-year-old Virginian about his game plan, and picked his brain about this latest edition of The Apprentice, which has been underperforming in ratings.
TVGuide.com: I have to say, I felt for you there, with Surya. My wife even turned to me on the sofa and said, "It's like he just took a Business 101 class with all the textbook lingo he was throwing around.
Aaron Altscher: [Laughs] We were tired, worn out, just trying to crank through this task, and he's coming out with all this marketing jargon. It was almost like he was speaking that way just to try to prove his worth. It was insane.
TVGuide.com: I didn't see: Did you yourself get up close and personal with any of the bees?
Aaron: No, I didn't, actually. I have a bee allergy, so I got off the hook.
TVGuide.com: Now, why did you bring Nicole into the boardroom? In retrospect, would you have chosen someone else?
Aaron: I've been thinking about that more and more. See, I had a good reason to bring her in, and a good reason not to bring her in. The reason I would bring her in is because we devoted some manpower to getting people out in the field. Nicole told me at the beginning of the task that honey is something that's marketable to gas stations, and she is a commercial gas-station broker. She said gas stations will put honey on their shelves as sort of like a vending product, and I said, "Great, go out there and sell it." She comes back four hours later with nothing. She had a lot of close calls, but that's not going to win it. So I had to bring her in, even though Trump has this adoration for her and thinks she's special and great and everything. But she was at fault.
TVGuide.com: At the point that you left, was the Tim-Nicole romance becoming problematic for the team yet?
Aaron: Um, no. It was not problematic, and I don't know if it becomes problematic at all. I would say that on Day 3, we would all be boozing around a fire, and Tim and Nicole were sitting together every night. I was like, "What's going on, dude?"
TVGuide.com: At the end of the day, do you think your silence while sitting alongside Trump in the boardroom the previous week stacked the deck against you?
Aaron: That certainly didn't help. I didn't realize they were going to make such a huge deal out of it. It wasn't that I didn't speak, although it appeared that way on TV. It's that I wasn't as assertive as Trump would have liked. Aimee came in the next week and was very assertive. And Heidi had been in that position two weeks earlier and was very assertive, and the rest of my team had complete and utter disdain for her. I was going in there privy to the fact that everybody hated Heidi because of her actions in the boardroom, so I told myself, "Be objective. You weren't there, so listen, say your two cents, and let it be." It puts you at no advantage to come down hard on the opposite team. But it turns out it kicked me in the butt!
TVGuide.com: Being a sports enthusiast, did it kill you to miss out on the Lakers reward?
Aaron: Aww, yeah... that was really rough. But I can't say that anything would be harder to swallow than missing the Playboy mansion. [Laughs] I was watching that show with a bunch of my buddies, and they were just in shock that we lost that task and I didn't get to go to the Playboy mansion. I let them down!
TVGuide.com: The Apprentice's ratings are down this season, and actually hit a season low with your dismissal. Since you worked on the bee task, I will ask you: Is there any way the show can get its "buzz" back?
Aaron: [Laughs] Well, the Grammys were on, so... but there definitely are some twists and turns to come, with the romance budding and the teams becoming more defined in their personalities.... I hope people continue to tune in, because this season is all about, "Expect the unexpected."
TVGuide.com: Here's another stellar segue: You work in real estate, which is all about "location, location, location." Do you think moving the show to Los Angeles was a misfire?
Aaron: No, I don't. They really needed to move out of New York, but I'm not sure L.A. delivered quite the impact they expected. I think if they keep the show mobile, maybe try Las Vegas, Miami, they can probably keep it going. A sixth run for any series, you're not going to get anywhere near the ratings of a first or second season.
TVGuide.com: I think you could be right. Vegas could add some spice to the show. L.A. was a nice change of venue, but it's just Los Angeles. It doesn't really have much personality.
Aaron: That's right. You may see later in the season that there are more episodes geared toward the L.A. lifestyle, Hollywood, those types of things.
TVGuide.com: What's next for you?
Aaron: Well, I'm still waiting for that offer letter from Trump. But if that doesn't come, I'm going to probably stick it out in the real-estate business, try to get in on the commercial side, see what's out there for me. I have a website at AaronAltscher.com. My world's going to go in a bunch of different directions, so hopefully something will perk out of this!
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