For a reality-show castoff who's not quite so chatty, be sure to read our Insider Q&A with Survivor's Brandon.
When Donald Trump ejected Mark(us) Garrison on NBC's The Apprentice, it was a scary moment. After all, who wants their 60-minute interview tape filled up with incomplete thoughts? But, promised that the 41-year-old inventor from Sarasota, Fla., is better-spoken off camera, TVGuide.com pressed the record button to hear what he had to say about his team's utter lack of sex appeal in last week's task. Here's Markus, almost unedited.
TVGuide.com: I don't know if you heard, but I almost bailed on this interview, for fear of running out of tape.
Markus Garrison: Hey, you know... [Laughs] It won't be mindless babble, I'll tell you that.
TVGuide.com: To paraphrase Carolyn, what was your strategy going into this?
Markus: Into the game itself? That's a really great question. My strategy was to come in as my own guy and do amazing business efforts, show my business acumen and win the contest.
TVGuide.com: Yet we never got to see your acumen shine.
Markus: Basically what happened is this.... I'll give you the background here, you take from it what you want. I didn't want to be the project manager on the first task, but the guys were all amazed by my phone call with the Bally executive. So, pulling out of the Lincoln Tunnel, I'm like, "Look, I'll do it. I don't want to, but I'll do it." It's a tough thing having never done it before and so forth; it's a huge risk. So anyway, on my phone call with Trump — did you see Episode 1? — they show him asking me a question and then they portrayed it as if I just started talking about anything and everything under the sun, that I just can't stop talking. What it actually was was that he asked me four or five questions and there was a complete give-and-take interplay between the two of us, so it was really hugely dishonest editing. What I believe happened... In retrospect I'm thinking about this, I'm thinking that his response to what I said... We got very comfortable talking, I've actually done business with Trump, I've sold him furniture for Mar-a-Lago, I spent the day with him.... What I believe happened is that they loved the response to his perception that I talk too much, which, coming from him... well, he talks more than anybody. Seriously. Anyway, they loved that and they really played that up. So we get in the boardroom and he goes, "You know, this guy sure talks a lot," and then at the [first] reward [dinner], "This guy sure talks a lot," so he branded me to my team as a motormouth. I had a target on my back from the very beginning.
TVGuide.com: Is that what you meant when, after being fired, you told Trump, "It's been a railroad from the beginning"?
Markus: Absolutely. Think about this: If every time you get ready to say something, someone is going, "Shut up, you're talking too much," how can you even talk? That's what happened [during the Learning Annex task]. I'd go, "Well, you know, Adam, how about..." and he'd go, "Whoa, whoa, whoa! You're not getting to the point." So it was a damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't thing. You've got [Trump], the ultimate decider of the contest, saying that this guy is a loser in front of your team, so....
TVGuide.com: That little "March of the Misfit" theme they gave you didn't do you any favors.
Markus: That was ridiculous. And frankly, I'm really upset with [executive producer Mark] Burnett. I think it was lazy, dishonest editing; there were a lot of stories to be told and they just kept coming back to "the doofus Markus, the doofus Markus, the doofus Markus." And that was really disappointing to me because I have so much more to offer. And to that point, I'm issuing a public challenge to Trump, to have a debate anywhere, anytime and on any subject. Five minutes, 10 minutes, on Dr. Phil, Oprah, whatever. I'll bury the guy. I can talk — you hear me right now, I'm pretty able to talk without stumbling. Am I stumbling? In the cab ride, they must have had me in there for half an hour, and they took the couple of moments where I was probably trying to crystallize a thought. And incidentally, I'll give you another tidbit: When Trump said "You're fired," I actually put my hand on the table and gave him my own "cobra" and said, "On to bigger and better things." And they completely cut that out, so you're looking at a guy who... I'm not happy about it.
TVGuide.com: Your bio says you see yourself and Season 1 winner Bill Rancic as "kindred spirits." Did you get to share any quality moments with him? Maybe a cigar?
Markus: You know, not yet, but I'll tell you something. When I was on the Dick's [sporting goods] task [on which Rancic subbed for George], they didn't show me selling at all, they didn't show me doing anything. I could e-mail you point by point by point for every task, all the things I did.
TVGuide.com: Speaking of that task: Choosing golf was your idea, which I have to say was smart, because it's a very expensive sport. Sales were bound to be higher.
Markus: Right, well here's the most interesting thing: What they didn't show is that the entire team sat there when it came time to decide [on a sport] and Alla said, "OK, who wants baseball?" And [everyone on the] team but me put their hand up. She then said, "Who wants golf?" I was the lone vote. And the only reason that we got golf is because the other team chose baseball. So we got it by default, and you should absolutely [mention that]. Listen, I was right on almost everything [with] my instinct and my business acumen. And people kept trying to marginalize and keep up this Trump thing of, "Oh, you just talk too much."
TVGuide.com: What was the object you were fiddling with during your team's "Sex at Work" seminar?
Markus: [Laughs] It was a yo-yo some woman in the crowd gave me. But I was fiddling with that after the presentation, not during. Who would sit and fiddle with a yo-yo during a presentation? It's B.S. Let me tell you what I did on that task that helped make it even as good as it was. I said to these guys, "Listen, No. 1, you've got to connect with your audience. You've got to make them like you. You've got to be friends with them. I'm going to go out and talk to the people and get to know them." Adam was like, "Oh, I don't know if you should do that." I said, "I'm doing it, so shut up, that's it." What you didn't see is we started out the presentation and [the other team members] were doing their very stiff "sex in the workplace" thing — a really, really stupid subject. So to help save it, I jumped up and started talking to people, and I had the whole room laughing and having a great time. It's what saved it from being a complete disaster.
TVGuide.com: Did you ever saber-open that champagne bottle during the East Hampton getaway reward?
Markus: Hell, yeah! I went and got a kitchen knife and I used the blunt end of it. I was trying not to tear up their knife because I'm a considerate guy. I came on this show to have fun and show my business acumen and be Trump's partner, not his employee. And they chose to use me as their class clown. I welcome the moment [to debate] on any show, anytime, anywhere, with Trump. He and I can go at it and we'll see who stumbles and who bumbles. It won't be me.
TVGuide.com: Josh offered me teeth-whitening stuff from his company. Can you float me a high-tech computer desk?
Markus: Well, no. I actually have a product called the FootMate at FootMate.com, and I'll be happy to send you one. What's your address?
TVGuide.com: Thanks, but... I thought you dealt in high-end furniture?
Markus: I used to be in that business; I no longer am. I'll tell you a very interesting tidbit. Ten years ago, I was with Mr. Trump at Mar-a-Lago, spending the day with him after the furniture I sold him for his bar was installed. He sat there with me, picking my brain about what I thought about his other furniture purchases, [saying] "You're a really sharp guy. You're an amazing guy." We spent a whole day together, and he acted like he never knew me when I showed up for this [Apprentice] interview. It was really bizarre. One of the things I'd also say is I think Trump is kind of afraid of how much I remind him of himself.
TVGuide.com: Well, you both have full heads of hair.
Markus: There you go! But I look forward to the future of this and we'll see what Trump and Burnett have to say once they get my take on things.
Editor's note: In a Nov. 9 New York Daily News article on Markus' grievances, Trump claims "Markus was treated accurately" by the editing, while Burnett issued a statement saying, "I have never commented on the editing of my shows, but having seen all the footage we have of Markus, it could have been a lot worse."