We know there is "no I in team," but even more important to remember is there is no small i at the beginning of Italian — a lesson that 27-year-old Chris Valetta learned when The Apprentice's Donald Trump ejected the project manager for totally skidding out on a Lamborghini ad campaign. Does the former NFL player agree that he ran the wrong play in the boardroom? TVGuide.com hit him between the numbers with that question and more.
TVGuide.com: Sorry to lead off with the obvious, but why did you bring Markus and only Markus into the boardroom when Trump clearly advised you that doing so was a bad move? Even Carolyn called it "dumb."
Chris Valetta: Yeah, she did, actually — that sucked. First of all, this show blew me off my chair with how real it is. So going into the boardroom, as the CEO of this group, I asked myself, "Who do I want on my team that will give us the best chance to win next week?" In the beginning of the show, the goal is to have the best team possible to take down the women's team. So I went in thinking, "Who am I going to keep so we don't lose again?"
TVGuide.com: That was Kristi's strategy the week prior, when she too brought just one person into the boardroom. Were you aware of that?
Chris: Yeah, we were, actually. When I saw that Kristi did that, I said, "Wow, that took some guts," but I knew the reason she did it — Melissa was just a total team killer, and Markus is the male equivalent.
TVGuide.com: You and Josh led the anti-Markus rallying cry, deeming him "a complete disaster" who "destroys team cohesiveness."
Chris: That's exactly right. I don't dislike Markus as a human being, but — and excuse for me for using Donald Trump's cliché — it's not personal, it's business. That's why I brought him in, but hey, I'm the one sitting here doing the interview with you! [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: Are you getting a kick out of the little "March of the Misfit" theme song they are playing during Markus' scenes?
Chris: Oh... my... gosh. Can you believe that? It's amazing. [Hums the sad tune] It's totally hilarious. That music really doesn't help him.
TVGuide.com: As a former NFL player, would you have been up for the reward of playing hockey with the Islanders?
Chris: [Laughs] I would have been horrible. It was funny, because you could tell that reward was kind of a guy's reward. But at least it wasn't hanging out with Christie Brinkley and Faith Hill for a day; then the guys would have gone crazy.
TVGuide.com: Your team's "Green with Envy" Lamborghini ad was all kinds of bad. Why could none of the guys but Markus see that?
Chris: Have you ever heard the term "group think," where everyone is convinced that a certain idea is accurate when, if you look at it from the outside looking in, it's a total disaster? We were victims of that. When we all sat around looking at that ad, and Mark told us the reason behind it, I sat there and went, "That's genius!" And everyone else said, "That's perfect! That makes so much sense!" But someone from the outside would say, "Wait a second — is the car green with envy?" And therefore it just didn't come off well. I believed in the decisions Mark made; the problem is, I didn't bring him in to defend his decisions, and I took the fall.
TVGuide.com: How did it feel to watch the broadcast and see that Trump, after your exit, said you had "great potential" and "I hated to fire him"?
Chris: You can't do anything about being fired, but to hear Donald Trump send me off that way, knowing that he doesn't really say that much about people, was really nice. I've got all the respect in the world for that man, and outside of the show I had a couple of conversations with him, and he has been so supportive. He's a guy I'd love to stand side-by-side with for a long time if I had the opportunity.
TVGuide.com: Your bio says you and your wife are addicted to Lost. What's your theory on what the hell is happening on that island?
Chris: [Yells to his wife down the hall] Hey, babe, what do we think is going on with Lost? [To TVGuide.com] Do you watch that show?
TVGuide.com: I work for TV Guide.
Chris: Yeah, that's true. We don't have a clue, but we're glued. [Wife shouts back] She doesn't think anything is by coincidence. I think it's some "divine intervention" bringing all these people together for one main reason and it will all tie together in the end.
TVGuide.com: Did doing The Apprentice play havoc with your appointment television?
Chris: That's the beauty of TiVo, my friend. There was no TiVo in the suite, but my wife was able to TiVo all my shows, so that was good.
TVGuide.com: How many did you have waiting for you on your Now Playing list?
Chris: Oh, my gosh, you don't even want to know! [Laughs] I had an endless list, but that was good.
TVGuide.com: So if Markus isn't the next to get fired, who do you think will be?
Chris: It's got to be Markus. But gosh, look what happened this week. I'm not saying I'm a glorified, incredible player, but I was surprised that I went before Markus, so... who the heck knows, man? But in my opinion it should be Markus, through and through.