Gold Rush project manager Lenny Veltman received quite a Boys & Girls Clubbing on last week's The Apprentice (Mondays at 9 pm/ET on NBC) when his music, more music and nothing... but... music-themed rec-room makeover hit a sour note with execs. TVGuide.com spoke to "the Russian" about his failure to Ace Donald Trump's contest. (Our Q&A with Leslie Bourgeois, last week's other canned candidate, can be found here.)
TVGuide.com: I feel like I should be interviewing Lee on your behalf.
Lenny Veltman: Can you find him? I've been trying to find him for two days and I can't reach him.
TVGuide.com: Yikes, your personal spokesperson has gone missing?
Lenny: Yeah, he's my advocate. Everybody needs a good "lawyer" in this country, and I've got one.
TVGuide.com: Each season on The Apprentice, it seems as if there is one person who's not really playing to win. This time around, I got that impression from you.
Lenny: I don't think that's true. I was trying to win, but I knew I wasn't going to. That doesn't make me a quitter or whatever. I know who I am. I'm not delusional. I know what the requirements were, and I know exactly what Mr. Trump is looking for, and I don't have everything. I have some, but I don't have everything. I think Lee, he has everything. They talk about Lee being young, inexperienced, all this crap, but we hear that every season about someone. Some young kids are very mature these days and Lee is one of those kids. This guy has education, which is very appealing to Donald Trump. Very appealing. Ivy league school, 4.0, at the top of his class.... What else could be better, right? Also, I think Donald Trump himself is a very loyal person to his business partners and to his friends and so forth, and as I saw him I find out a little bit more about Trump. He's a very human, very funny person, a very nice and cool guy. Loyalty, Lee has it.
TVGuide.com: In your bio, you list "loyalty" as one of the most important qualities for a leader to have.
Lenny: Exactly. You can't buy it, you can't earn it. You go to college, you're not going to learn how to be loyal. You go to work, you're not learning how to be loyal. You have to be born with this and Lee has it he has it. I don't think anybody else on the show does.
TVGuide.com: Why didn't you take time off from a task to observe the Jewish holidays, as Lee and Dan did?
Lenny: I'll tell you what: First of all, we're all under the contract. I signed my life away by signing this contract "I'm going on the show and I accept everything on the show" so if there's a task, I have to work. I'm not that religious, OK, so why would I [be absent]? We had, like, six Jewish contestants. I knew Lee from Day 1 and he's a kosher guy, he's observing Jew, and I knew he's going to take days off. That wasn't surprising for me. I didn't know same thing about [Dan, whom Lenny had words with in the suite]. That's why I was upset. I have no problem with the Judaism and I have no problem with Lee. I had a problem with [Dan], that's it. How can I be anti-Semitic, you know, if I'm Jewish myself?
TVGuide.com: On the Boys & Girls Club task, do you feel you botched the meeting with the execs? You called Ace Hardware a "small" store in front of their guy and all.
Lenny: All Ace Hardware stores I know, they're small. I didn't know they have big stores like the one in Long Island. That whole meeting, as I saw it on TV, was very awkward it looked like an animated cartoon where somebody forgot to put the words in. Yeah, we didn't have a lot of questions to ask, but we asked everything we needed to ask. Plus, prior to that we had another meeting, for about an hour, with the woman who's in charge of that particular Boys & Girls Club [location]. We had to renovate a huge room with a 30-foot ceiling, which is almost impossible to reach, but we did it, we nailed it.
TVGuide.com: Why didn't you pay more attention to the advice Lee tried to give you on what to say and not to say in the boardroom?
Lenny: Lee tried to make me defend myself. I appreciate that of course, but on the other hand I'm like, "Listen, I don't want to defend myself. We did a great job, so I'll just go in there and take the blame." If you want to fire me, fire me. I have no problem with that. It was time for me to go. I was sick of it already. It's not like I'm a quitter; I just know my chances, and one more week, two more weeks wouldn't change anything. Why would I go in and fight like cats and dogs? But when Donald Trump came in and asked Charmaine, "What do you think about Lenny?," then I couldn't stand it. I don't like lying and [what she said] was complete, pure, 100 percent lie.
TVGuide.com: You and Charmaine didn't really get along, did you?
Lenny: This is not true. We had no problem whatsoever prior to this task, but something changed in Charmaine. She probably has a "switch" somewhere bad day/good day, bad person/good person, I don't know and that switch was set to "bad person" that day. I don't know why. She was afraid to get dirty [on the task]. "I don't want to get paint on myself." She had on some "astronaut suit," and I was laughing at it. But I think we did a great job.
TVGuide.com: Lastly, you list "vodka champion" as a hobby....
Lenny: That means I'm going to be the next guy for new Trump Vodka advertisement! No, I'm just kidding. "Vodka champion" was a joke. Everybody has a perception of Russians as big drinkers and we are big drinkers, actually, but we only drink when we're socializing. It's not like I get up in the morning and drink vodka instead of coffee. I put "vodka champion" to make people laugh!
TVGuide.com's Insider Q&A with Leslie Bourgeois, last week's other canned Apprentice candidate, can be found here.