So many things were wrong atypically disorganized and surprisingly cursory, if you will about the live results show for this latest round of NBC's The Apprentice. Where was the heated final boardroom battle? Why was the reunion aspect all but ignored? Who dares to disappoint Jaime Pressly? And why didn't Trump reveal the actual, quantifiable outcome of each final task? After the Donald decided to hire Sean Yazbeck, 22-year-old runner-up Lee Bienstock weighed in on those and other curiosities about Monday night's anticlimactic climax.
TVGuide.com: First of all, congratulations on being the youngest person to make it into the Apprentice finals.
Lee Bienstock: Thank you, I appreciate that.
TVGuide.com: So, Lee, you're a guy....
TVGuide.com: The project manager in charge of an event featuring Jaime Pressly....
TVGuide.com: How do you not put yourself personally in charge of Jaime Pressly?!
Lee: [Laughs] It was really, really difficult. Actually, Lenny and I got into a fight afterward over whom she liked more.
TVGuide.com: Considering she derided him as "little Apprentice boy," I'd say you have the edge.
Lee: Yeah, well... you don't see it, but I spent a lot of time with her going over the specifications of the cars and how she should go about auctioning them off. She was also at our VIP party, mingling with all the guests there. It's difficult not overseeing Jaime Pressly, but the apprenticeship was 1,000 times more important to me.
TVGuide.com: Those Leary Firefighters Foundation ladies were tough customers, man.
Lee: Yeah, the Leary Firefighters Foundation was definitely, definitely tough. They expected perfection, and I wanted to give that to them, but there are so many moving parts on these things. I asked them how long they typically spend on coordinating an event like that and they said months. We were doing it in two days. At the end, they were very happy. [Executive director] Lys [Hopper] was quoted as saying, "Lee put a smile on my face." I wish they would have shown how much money we actually did raise.
TVGuide.com: That was my next question. How much money did you raise?
Lee: We raised well over $85,000, I'm pretty darn sure. We auctioned shirts off the players' backs, and Michael J. Fox's alone got over $3,500.
TVGuide.com: Sean's understanding was that his event raised more money.
Lee: Ah, I don't think so. Like I said, Michael J. Fox's jersey alone got $3,500, and I also auctioned off sports memorabilia, a chance for somebody to actually play in the game....
TVGuide.com: But Sean got about $40,000 for his G6 convertible.
Lee: But I got more for my Solstice, so... they choose what they want to show.
TVGuide.com: So why not reveal the tallies for each event, even at the risk of calling into question Trump's ultimate hiring decision?
Lee: That's what I would like to know. If Sean raised more money than I did, he raised more money than I did, but at the end of the day, I don't think he did, which is perhaps why they didn't show it. You also have to remember: Sean had 1,000 people at his concert, while I had 225 to 250 at my hockey event. When you're auctioning off to 1,000 people, it's four times easier than it would be to auction off to 250 people.
TVGuide.com: Here's my big idea: I would have also made people pledge a certain amount per goal scored.
Lee: Well, we don't have any say over who attends the event, so I could never force people to do that. And ours were not VIP Taj Mahal guests.
TVGuide.com: Maybe that's why they didn't disclose the fund-raising, because they knew it was apples and oranges.
Lee: I spent so much time doing fund-raising things that I spread myself really, really thin. I was auctioning off everything! [Laughs]
TVGuide.com: You know I have to ask: Any second thoughts about putting Lenny on your final-task team? He is very polarizing.
Lee: Absolutely not. They could have given Sean a ton of crap for the team he chose. I mean, I like Andrea, but she was pegged the whole season as somebody who didn't get along well with people.
TVGuide.com: I'm surprised you didn't pick Allie; she was one of your biggest advocates.
Lee: Allie is great, and the reason I didn't choose her is because Trump had said Roxanne and Allie turned on each other [in the penultimate boardroom showdown]. Allie is very strong, but I thought I would get nailed 100 times worse by Trump if I put Allie and Roxanne on the same team. He could have said, "You're a damn fool."
TVGuide.com: Much was made of your taking time off to observe the Jewish holidays. Was that potential scheduling conflict a concern of yours going in?
Lee: Yeah, the timing with the taping was a big concern of mine, but I didn't think it wasn't going to be made into a big issue, to be honest.
TVGuide.com: It wasn't a big issue, but it was an issue.
Lee: It didn't sit well with a lot of the viewers, and I wish it had, because I get so many e-mails from people of all faiths who are so proud that somebody would stand up for their beliefs like that. Trust me I wish I could have been there for those tasks, but it wasn't a viable option.
TVGuide.com: What was more crushing: coming so close to winning this thing, or being shown on national television shooting hoops in your dress socks?
Lee: [Laughs] It's close, but I'd say "coming so close to winning." Playing basketball in my dress socks, I've done that before. I've gone straight from synagogue to play basketball.
TVGuide.com: Was it bittersweet at all to go up against Sean in the finals, since you two had bonded over the previous several weeks?
Lee: It wasn't bittersweet at all because at the end of the day, Sean and I kept it really clean. We didn't backstab each other and verbally dog each other, which I thought was great.
TVGuide.com: True, it was very much a gentlemen's fight.
Lee: It was a complete gentlemen's fight. As I said to Sean: We don't have even enough time [during the live finale] to express all of our positive qualities, so why would we spend time dogging the other person? We really kept it about ourselves. I'd much rather lose like that than lose while also losing my integrity and genuineness.