"I about went ass over tea kettles," says 32-year-old country bumpkin Troy McClain of his reaction to getting fired Thursday on NBC's The Apprentice. We were right there with ya, buddy. Not only did the media peg McClain the clear favorite to win Donald Trump's entrepreneurial olympics, but the above-average joe was America's clear choice as well. So what the heck happened to send the homespun hero from frontrunner to, as he puts it, "looking up the ass of a dead dog with fleas?" Well, for starters, he picked Kwame to join him in the freakin' boardroom instead of Bill.
TV Guide Online: What were you thinking? Had you picked Bill you would still be in this game!
Troy McClain: I don't know that that's true. Bill had a higher success record than both Kwame and I. At the end of the day, the education [issue] weighed heavily on DT's mind. I've got a high-school diploma; Kwame's got a Harvard degree.
TVGO: Who did you think Trump was going to fire?
Troy: My gut was telling me that Kwame was going to get terminated — until he started talking about my lack of education. I just can't compete with that. At the end of the day, if you erase the piece of paper and just go man-to-man, I should have walked out on top. If you watch the show, most of the ideas that were used were my ideas.
TVGO: Some people think that Kwame was merely riding on your coattails.
Troy: I don't see it that way. I see Kwame as a very smart logistics specialist and a fantastic operator. I was the idea-maker and Kwame was the executor of ideas.
TVGO: Did you tell Kwame beforehand that you were going to choose him to join you in the boardroom?
Troy: Nope. I didn't discuss it with anybody. Kwame and I did make one promise though: Friends are friends and business is business, and don't use them in the same sentence.
TVGO: What was going on inside of you after you got fired?
Troy: Inside I was really shocked. Fifteen years earlier, my senior-yearbook quote says, "Donald Trump, I'm coming." I took that yearbook and I mailed it to him. So, as long as the river flows and the grass grows, I keep my promises. To meet the man was wonderful, but to have him fire me was a downright shame.
TVGO: Would you say that you were judged unfairly for your lack of education?
Troy: I don't want to say I was judged unfairly. I just think that's the way the world goes 'round. I can tell you this: I won't let it happen again. As a matter of fact, I want to ask Donald Trump to send me to the Wharton School of Business because he said I would make a great businessman and make someone a lot of money, just not yet. He said I'm not polished enough. So, if he wants to polish me... four years from now I will make him a billion dollars.
TVGO: But aren't you sending a message that folks can't get ahead in this world without a degree?
Troy: I think in the East Coast, or at least in the Trump organization, education speaks highly.
TVGO: The media pegged you the frontrunner. That must have felt good.
Troy: I think that says a lot for America. They wanted me to represent hope that the common person can rise above. And to have all those periodicals say that I was the frontrunner gave a lot of people hope. Going back to your question about needing a college degree to make it, no you don't. There were 215,000 people that applied for this job. There were 11,000 face-to-face interviews and I was the only one with just a high-school diploma that made it. I made it.
TVGO: I have to ask: Why did the camera cut to Trump's secretary when you were getting into the elevator for the last time? Anything going on there that we should know about? Seemed like maybe she had a crush on you.
Troy: No, there was nothing going on there. Robin's a wonderful lady and she was really just pulling for me.
TVGO: Did she tell you she wanted you to win?
Troy: She never expressed it either way, but I think in her heart-of-hearts she did. Robin was a wonderful lady.
TVGO: What's next for you? Any plans to go Hollywood?
Troy: I would love to have that opportunity. My biggest aspiration is to show [my supporters] that I can still go to the top. And if I can use the media as a vehicle to inspire everybody else, then great. If that's hosting a show, I would love to do that. I would love to be the "dream maker." I'd love to just walk up to people that have worked their tails off their whole lives and say, "You worked hard enough — your house is paid for."