Angela Ruggerio, <EM>The Apprentice</EM> Angela Ruggerio, The Apprentice

"Apprentice Olympian Lacks Universal Appeal"? "Olympian Angela Doesn’t Have the Mettle to Win"? "Hockey Star Can't Skate Through Tough Boardroom"? No matter how you put it, no matter what puns are employed, the story is the same: Olympic hockey star Angela Ruggerio took one for the team on NBC's The Apprentice (Sundays at 10 pm/ET) when she got fired for failing to drum up enough ticket sales outside the Universal Studios Hollywood theme park. But was the gold medalist a victim of brazen rule-breaking? A casualty of the Nicole-Tim romance? TVGuide.com invited Angela to share her side of the story. Plus, the next reality series she may lace up for!

TVGuide.com: In the boardroom, were you surprised to see the tide turn the way it did? And by "tide" I mean your team mates Kristine and Heidi.
Angela Ruggerio: Yeah, that's one thing I have to say. During the task itself, I felt there were a lot of [questionable calls]. Like, we were specifically told we couldn't have a booth, and the other team goes out and does it. And they're selling ruthless all day, lying to customers and whatnot, so we lost. Going into the boardroom, both Heidi and Kristine said, "I have your back, we'll go after Nicole." I said I'd be going after the [roller-skating salesgirls] concept, because that was the biggest thing that led to our downfall. So I'm in there and now I see that, of course, Nicole knew that James was going to go after her concept, so she was prepared, and Trump wasn't buying it. I don't know if he enjoyed the "romance" that's going on [between Nicole and rival team member Tim] or what, but he was like, "What else do you have? Who else are you going to attack?" As soon as the tide turned on me, both Heidi and Kristine were like, "You should fire Angela." It goes to show that you can be a team player with your mouth, but actions speak louder than words. I didn't see it coming — especially in light of last week's episode where I had Kristine's back. I thought for sure she'd help me out on this one and go after the easy target, which was Nicole, the weakest link sent over from the other team. But it is The Apprentice, and I guess this is the kind of people who sign up! [Laughs]

TVGuide.com: But as I was saying to TVGuide.com's Megan, who blogs about The Apprentice each week, what else could your team have done? Set up a booth on the other side of the sidewalk? It would have still come down to who has the sleazier salespeople, or who can offer the second free bottle of water. I don't think the roller-skating concept was that bad.
Angela: We both had very limited budgets and we couldn't really give anything extra, and our prices were exactly the same, so it came down to a pure sales event. My first inclination was to have a booth with discounted tickets, but the [Universal Studios Hollywood] executives specifically said, "You cannot do that." The other team, being ruthless and not listening to what anyone says, set up a booth. And in the course of the task, the other team is selling tickets to kids. At Universal Studios, parents pay full price but kids under 12 go free. Yet I specifically saw them selling a family of four four adult-priced tickets. Our team wasn't doing that, we were playing by the rules. It's interesting to see on TV the other team say, "We're going to win at all costs," and that's really what they did.

TVGuide.com: You made a very good point, but Trump pooh-poohed it: You were out there representing Universal.
Angela: I kept saying that, that if this were qualitative, we killed the other team, because we respected what the executives said and we were friendly to the people and we weren't grabbing them by the wrists. A lot of those people on their way out are going to realize, "Kids get in for free?" They just spent an extra $50 or $100 on kids' tickets, so they're not going to be coming back. I was upset because we played by the rules, but in the end the other team didn't care about what the executives wanted, in any respect.

TVGuide.com: But as you hinted, Donald Trump as executive producer probably has an interest in keeping the Nicole-Tim couple on the show.
Angela: Which I should have seen coming, because the second I started to attack Nicole and the concept.... She was the weakest link sent over from the other team, and she was the one who said, "This is what they're doing and this is what we should do," and we all jumped on board. I thought, "This is an easy [boardroom face-off], because we went on what Nicole had to say, we listened to her energy and this and that." But Trump right off the bat was like, "Hmm, no. What else do you have?" I was like, "Uh-oh!" They then baited me, trying to get me to attack Kristine. I said — and they didn't show this — "Can you give me specific numbers to show who sold the least amount of product? Because that's the person I'll attack." And they would not tell me, even though it was registered in our [credit-card swipers]. If it were Heidi or Kristine, I would have something to go on, but my team turned on me, when both Kristine and Heidi said they would back me up.

TVGuide.com: Were you able to stay in training at all while on the show? They didn't show us any cardio or weight equipment at the mansion.
Angela: When we first got there, they had some cardio machines in the mansion's backyard, but poolside, so when we were in the tents we just sat there. [Laughs] I definitely wasn't working out at all, so it was good to get back in the gym and back on the ice. It's so ironic that yesterday was my firing, because I'm in North Dakota right now with the USA women's [hockey] team training for the world championships next week in Winnipeg, and they named the team actually yesterday at noon. So I made the world team and I got fired on the same day! It was kind of ironic. But I'm still playing, and I'm working for the New York Islanders, running a couple of their nonprofits, keeping my options open.

TVGuide.com: What was your favorite reward?
Angela: Probably playing golf with Trump, because that course was gorgeous, and it was fun to hit balls after being cooped up all day planning for events....

TVGuide.com: A lot of the castoffs I've talked to over the years have relished that kind of "casual" face time with Trump.
Angela: Yeah, you get to know him a little more, which is huge. He definitely liked my golf swing! He was joking, "You should go on the PGA Tour."

TVGuide.com: Are you going back to press with your autobiography, Breaking the Ice, adding a chapter about your Apprentice experience?
Angela: Oh, I definitely want to do something.... I do speaking engagements, and no one wants to talk about hockey anymore. [Laughs] "What was The Apprentice like?" — that's the real question now. I'm kind of waiting to see if maybe a job opportunity will open because of this. I could play hockey through 2010, or if a great job came along, I'm at a point where I'd be ready to step away from the sport.

TVGuide.com: Hey, what about doing Survivor?
Angela: You know what? Derek and I actually talked about doing The Amazing Race together! How great would that be?! I need to find out who we can talk to about that!

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