Last week, in a ridiculously overhyped and anticlimactic moment, 31-year-old Verna Felton made Apprentice history as the first contestant ever to quit. The Seattle-based mom of two had almost given notice a week prior, claiming exhaustion during the motel-management task. However, it took another episode for Felton to finally tender her official resignation from Magna Corp. because she was "sick." That sounded [coughcough] suspicious, since she didn't look too sick to us. Here, TV Guide Online probes Ms. Felton for the truth about her murky exit.
TV Guide Online: Do you stand by your decision to leave The Apprentice?
Verna Felton: Most definitely. I have no regrets whatsoever. It was time for me to go.
TVGO: Think it'll impact your ability to get future jobs?
Verna: Oh, no. When people talk to me, they are like, "You are nothing like I expected you to be. You are not that weak, quivering little girl." You know what? That is TV. If people can't look at that and see that that is TV and there is probably a whole bunch of stuff they didn't show, then that is probably not the kind of person I want to work for anyway.
TVGO: What finally pushed you to quit?
Verna: It is pretty funny, because they dragged it out. They could have just had me leaving in the second episode, since that is when I really left. But [the show has] to make it entertaining. If you go back to that [motel] episode, they didn't show me doing much work but I was up literally all night long. That night, something happened that I unfortunately cannot get into detail [about] because it is part of my nondisclosure agreement. But it questioned my integrity, and I thought, "This show is not worth it." I gave up a lot to be there, but it is OK, because I still have a loving husband and beautiful kids and a very successful career back at home.
TVGO: Was it one particular person's actions that provoked you?
Verna: It was the whole thing.
TVGO: When you took off, where the heck were you going?
Verna: I hit the street. I was trying to finding a ride to get out of there. That did turn out to be unsuccessful because I didn't have any money — you know, they take your money [when you start the show] — so I couldn't get a ride out. Luckily, Carolyn came by and gave me a ride back to the motel.
TVGO: How long were you wandering aimlessly around the Jersey shore?
Verna: Honestly, it seemed a lot longer on TV than when I was really walking around. I might have been out there for a half hour or so.
TVGO: So you weren't really sick. That excuse was a cover for the "incident" that you can't get into?
Verna: Exactly. The funny thing is that if you saw me, especially when I slammed the door, I was mad. I was like, "This is not even acceptable. Goodbye! I just don't want to have any part of this and you know why." Business is business and gaming is gaming, and I was there to do some serious business. Give me pressure, give me stress, give me a high-intensity work environment and I am all for that. But give me bickering and backstabbing and "Let's fight for camera time" and I don't want it.
TVGO: That's nothing new. Had you even watched Apprentice before?
Verna: I really didn't watch it a lot. I sort of went out for it as a joke. My brother talked me into going out for the auditions, the producers loved me, I went through a million rounds of interviews and tests and I earned my spot on the show.
Verna: [Laughs] I definitely think that these people are good. They know how to produce a TV show. I think they have some things in mind about how they want to [play out] the drama and this just worked out for them. This is something that has never happened before. I made Apprentice history. I think it was a successful combination.
TVGO: What's been the response from family and coworkers?
Verna: People that really know me come up to me and say, "That was scary. What really happened? Because I know you and the only reason you would quit was if something happened that you didn't want to be a part of."
TVGO: You're sure you can't tell me what happened?
Verna: [Laughs] Catch me in three years. I think that's when my NDA is up.