In case you missed this past week's The Apprentice: Martha Stewart — and according to the ratings, a lot of you did — the domestic goddess took Chuck Soldano to task for nearly quitting when his team, Matchstick, refused to cooperate. The 38-year-old interior designer struggled to rein in his team ("Win the show at all costs" Jim and his target du jour, Dawn, included) on a flower-selling task that should have been an easy win for the creative types. TVGuide.com talked to Chuck the day after his ouster to see what nearly caused him to throw in the towel.
TVGuide.com: What has the response from your family been?
Chuck Soldano: Watching the first episode, everybody said that I looked like I wasn't really enjoying myself. And quite frankly, the people who know me and know my expressions were dead on. I really was not enjoying myself. They were sad that they are not going to be seeing more of me in the future.
TVGuide.com: Why did you go on the show?
Chuck: I went on at the prompting of my partner, Alan, and my friend, Karen. I have very similar passions to Martha [Stewart] — I am an artist, I craft, I garden. The standing joke is that I could be Martha Stewart. So when this all came down the pike, people were like, "You have to do this." I had never seen any of The Apprentice. In my mind, I thought it was going to be a lot more hands-on creative, so I was a little surprised when I got in to the thick of it and saw that it really, truly is about business.
TVGuide.com: How did you get stuck as project manager?
Chuck: It wasn't a "get stuck" as much as a conscious choice. I had experience with flowers because I've done freelance flower work and I've been a floral designer, not a shopkeeper. But because I had a sense of pricing structure and what flowers would be in the market at that time of year, I was kind of a natural fit to get the ball off the ground.
TVGuide.com: But you had to manage that motley crew.
Chuck: All wonderful people — I definitely want that said. My team mates propelled me and kept me there. I came very close to saying "This is not for Chuck," and walking out of there.
TVGuide.com: Were you really going to walk out, or did you just want to get their attention?
Chuck: Oh, god, no. I don't need attention like that. It wasn't really the people, it was the inner conflict. Did I want to be doing this in the first place? I think some people come to the experience thinking that the process is going to reinvent them; they don't love where they are in their life so it is worth the challenge and battle to get to the end of the road. In my case, I came from a rich and fulfilling life. I love my career. I love that I'm self-employed and that I make the decisions on a daily basis.
TVGuide.com: After watching Jim on TV, do you regret not trying to get him off the show for being disruptive?
Chuck: Jim is a man who has boundless energy and, directed in a positive way, that could be a great thing. At this point he concentrated on directing that in a negative way. But I will say that he busted his ass on my behalf. He worked like a dog to get that store up and running.
TVGuide.com: He was friendly to you, but he seemed to have an ulterior motive. Were you aware of that at the time?
Chuck: He may have had an ulterior motive, but while I was there I did not see it that way. I felt that Jim was being very sincere toward me.
TVGuide.com: Do you think that Team Matchstick has a chance to come back from two losses?
Chuck: I do. There are some intelligent, strong resources on the team. I just think they need to be able to get their skills working to their advantage.