Shawn Killinger Shawn Killinger

Instead of breaking news, this past week on The Apprentice: Martha Stewart Shawn Killinger made some news. The 32-year-old TV newscaster was called back into the conference room even after project manager David absolved her and blamed Matchstick's loss on two other apprenti. But Martha was unhappy when she discovered that Shawn told Charles Koppelman that if the team lost the challenge, he could fire her. (The reporter also made the faux pas of sharing her philosophy about faking it until you make it. Big mistake.) TVGuide.com talked to Shawn who, for having been unceremoniously dismissed, sounded surprisingly happy.

TVGuide.com: You seem very excited despite having been fired.
Shawn Killinger: Well, this is fun, talking to people. I've never been fired before, but if it's always like this, you can fire me every day!

TVGuide.com: Were you a fan of Martha's before the show?
Shawn:
I'm a big fan of her business savvy. I'm not going to lie — as a television mogul, she's huge, but it's not like before this opportunity came along I was a cooker and a sewer and [bought] all her products and magazines. I don't cook, other than pancakes, and I don't sew, but I do have a flair for decorating. I'm more a fan of what she represents — the success angle. She has built her empire from the ground up.

TVGuide.com: Are you upset with her for overruling David's boardroom picks?
Shawn:
No, not at all. It was shocking, don't get me wrong. When you're on a losing team that's sinking faster than the Titanic, then you're told you can leave the boardroom and go back to the suite and exhale and you'll live to see another day, that's a good thing. When you're called back, that's a bad thing. She totally made up her own rules there. It's the first time it's ever happened, so when we went back, we had no idea what was going to take place. Shortly after we [entered] the conference room, it became clear — by the death stare that was looking at me — that I was going down. I'm not angry at all.

TVGuide.com: Martha seemed to think you were doing The Apprentice for the wrong reasons. Were you?
Shawn:
[She questioned] my motives for being on the show, and said that I had no idea what it takes to be a newscaster. I told Martha on her [daytime talk] show that I didn't need a reality show to get on TV and to become a television personality; in fact, it's completely the opposite. I actually gave up a lot to [do The Apprentice]. I gave up a decade-long career as a TV personality. Obviously, my motives were very pure in terms of wanting to further my career in a creative direction. There are a lot more reality-TV people out there — god bless them — who clearly do the reality circuit just to become famous for fame's sake.

TVGuide.com: If you could take back only one of the comments you made — either telling Charles he could send you home if your team lost, or the "fake it before you make it" comment to Martha — which would it be?
Shawn:
I believe so strongly in both of them, I wouldn't take back either.

TVGuide.com: Even though that led to your "not fitting in"?
Shawn:
Yes. The comment I made to Charles.... Leaders are bold and they speak with confidence and conviction. I'm a really huge believer in speaking victories before you actually realize them. The first step in becoming a winner is behaving like one. The "fake it till you make it" thing I'm a huge fan of, and I'm living proof of.

TVGuide.com: That could be your catchphrase. Put it on T-shirts!
Shawn:
It's funny. I have thought about that. I can see how even the word "fake" would have a much different and much more negative connotation to Martha. She completely misunderstood what the idea was and the thought process behind [it]. That saying is born out of — and I can only speak from experience — being a newbie cub reporter in the trenches in TV news and trying to get your sea legs. I had to do a live shot and tell a story in 30 seconds, all the while dealing with deadlines. That means you have to think quickly on your feet, and you really have to "fake it till you make it." It is such a powerful principle for anyone in any walk of life. We all get ourselves into situations that are new to us where we are scared to death and filled with doubt on the inside. But on the outside, if you want to be successful, you must exude confidence and make your way through it, knowing that with every day it will get easier and you'll learn from it.

TVGuide.com: Is Jim calmer in person?
Shawn:
Jim is not calmer per se; that actually is the real Jim. Keep in mind, at the end of the day this is a game, and while that doesn't dismiss any politically incorrect or totally offensive behavior — pretty much 95 percent of what Jim does is politically incorrect and offensive — it doesn't threaten me. It just says to me, this is a guy who needs a big hug. When you approach him with an open heart and an open spirit and you don't take him so seriously, you realize that he had his own agenda coming on the show. He chose to be extremely cutthroat about it. He e-mailed me the other day, saying it was really starting to wear on him how he was looking on TV, and I wrote back saying, "Hey, buddy, chin up. You're going to be fine, but you made your bed and now you've got to sleep in it." I was like, "Maybe watching yourself on TV being such a bastard will make you want to do an about-face and become a really nice guy." He's a crazy lunatic and I love him!

TVGuide.com: Was Dawn really hard to work with?
Shawn: Dawn wasn't hard to work with; she just wasn't a motivating force. She wasn't a driver of the bus. She wasn't a critical team player. I like Dawn, and after the fact I know she was very sensitive to the fact that it seemed like the team was really ganging up on her. She didn't step up and wasn't a huge leader. We clearly thought she was going to be the one to go.

TVGuide.com: What did you do with your letter from Martha?
Shawn:
I have it in a plastic file box because I'm now unemployed and in transit. I don't have a home, I'm living back in Detroit and job hunting. Half of my life is in storage in Orlando; half of it is in file bins in Michigan, but I definitely will keep it. I hope some day to have a wall of TV memorabilia to kind of chronicle my life in TV, and she's going to be up there in a nice frame.