After a long, hard season on NBC's The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, Dawna Stone became the first (and last) winner of the one-shot reality series. Despite some complaints by Martha and her execs that she lacked creativity, Dawna beat out Bethenny Frankel (whose Q&A can be found here) for the title after pulling together her final fashion-show task. The 37-year-old Floridian was rewarded with a new car and a six-figure salary for her new job at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia's new Body + Soul magazine. TVGuide.com dished with Dawna the day after she was crowned to find out what she thinks of her new job.
TVGuide.com: How are you doing?
Dawna Stone: I'm not sure it has sunk in yet, but I'm still smiling ear-to-ear.
TVGuide.com: When do you start working?
Dawna: I don't know all the details yet. Martha was really nice and just said, "Enjoy your holidays." After the new year, I'll fly to New York and Boston to meet everybody.
TVGuide.com: Will that be hard for you and your family to just up and move?
Dawna: My husband and I — my whole family — knew that if I were fortunate enough to win, there would be a move. So I was set for it.
TVGuide.com: So your husband isn't in shock?
Dawna: No, but I'm sure in a few days he'll be like, "Oh, my goodness... this is really happening." Everybody at Body + Soul has just been so nice. They are like, "Come up [to Boston], bring your husband and we'll spend a couple of days showing you the different locations."
TVGuide.com: I thought it was cool to see you actually at work at your magazine during the final episode.
Dawna: It has been great. Being all about the health-and-fitness lifestyle, it is perfect for me. I think I'll learn so much this year that I can bring to Her Sports [the magazine Dawna publishes] down the road.
TVGuide.com: You mentioned that you work with your hubby. Will he still be at Her Sports?
Dawna: Absolutely. And besides my husband, I have a great editor-in-chief and a creative director who have been cheering me on the whole time, knowing that if I did win, they would need to take the reins and keep the magazine going. I get so many e-mails from readers who were watching the [Apprentice:] Martha show saying, "Gosh, if you win, what is going to happen to the magazine?" I assured everybody that it would continue. I'll still have input — when you are married to the person who is actually running it, you get to have input! — so I don't feel like I'm completely walking away. But I'm walking into MSLO knowing it is going to be a lot of fun and a lot of hard work, and hopefully I can make a huge difference and a big impact.
TVGuide.com: Was this the type of MSLO opportunity you were hoping to land?
Dawna: Absolutely. It's funny — I talked to Martha [after the final show] and she said they handpicked that job when they knew that they wanted me. I couldn't have asked for anything better.
TVGuide.com: Were you surprised that she chose you instead of Bethenny?
Dawna: I was, actually. I felt it could go either way. But I also truly felt that I proved myself week after week. I believe I have the highest winning percentage of any finalist in the history of The Apprentice [Donald Trump's original version included]. I was hoping that I proved to Martha that I was the right person, but you just never know.
TVGuide.com: Did you cringe every time someone said you weren't creative?
Dawna: I did. The hard part for me is that although I have a very corporate background, everything I have been doing for the last two or three years is really more creative than corporate. I think people forgot that I run a creative magazine.
TVGuide.com: What was your favorite task?
Dawna: I have two, but in terms of the end product, it was the first task where I was project manager and we published a book. At the end, being able to hold the book in your hands and to know that kids can go to the store and purchase it was such a great feeling. The Tide to Go task, which I was also project manager on, was just the most fun task. I could not stop laughing at Ryan with his orange tights!
TVGuide.com: Is it hard watching the show and hearing what people thought in their personal interviews?
Dawna: Yeah, it's hard when you hear people say things about you that aren't super nice. I was pretty fortunate in that the majority of the contestants would say that they respected me and would want to work with me. But at the end, with Jim and Bethenny on my team and to hear how they were plotting against me, that was difficult. You have to take it with a grain of salt. For me, this was truly about the job interview and working alongside Martha and her executives. I think for some people, it was about playing a game.
TVGuide.com: Are you going to get nice holiday gifts or something for your final team that helped you on the Liz Claiborne task?
Dawna: Yeah, I have done some stuff for them already. We're all really close. Going into this reality-TV show you never really expect that you are going to make friends out of it, but what ended up happening is that there are people who I will end up keeping in touch with forever. Ryan, Amanda and Sarah, those three especially, I've gone to dinner with and I've met their families. They will be great friends of mine forever.