Aaron Altscher, a Community Sales Manager from Virginia, became the fifth person fired by Donald Trump on this season’s The Apprentice. He was on a two-task win streak as Project Manager, but the streak was broken after last night’s defeat in the honey selling task. Although his team lost the task, they all did a fine job and seemed poised to win. Unfortunately, someone had to take the blame when they did lose and that became Aaron. Aaron talked with us this morning about his time on the show.
Can you tell us how you got involved with The Apprentice?
Sure, I mean it’s just like most of the other candidates. I went to an open casting call and callbacks and I made a little video that was having me doing some really stupid things and then all of a sudden I was out in LA for finals talking to Mr. Trump and Mark Burnett.
So, you’re flown out to LA, you get cast on the show, and you assume you’ll be living luxuriously. How jarring is it, then, when you learn about tent city and that you, in fact, would be living there?
Well, at first blush, tent city was devastating. We’re thinking, “Oh my god, we won’t get to stay in this mansion,” and I told all my friends I was going on Trump’s show and I was going to live the Trump lifestyle. But, we lose, we go out to the tents, and after the first time it was like, “Man, this isn’t so bad.” You know we got good people, drinks going on, good food and a gorgeous view of the Valley. And it just turned into like a huge party out back. So, granted, we didn’t want to stay there and it was motivation to get out, but our team was able to rally behind that and get closer just based on our loss.
In last night’s show, is there anything you wish you had done differently during the honey task?
Well, I guess my main downfall, it’s a shame to say, but it came on the week that I won. I was in the boardroom and Trump comes down on me pretty hard for not taking more of an assertive approach against the other team. I guess if there was anything else I could change I probably would have gone back in time and maybe pepped up a little bit more and gave my two cents to the other team. But on the honey task, this was my third task as project manager, and the first two I had won. So I was going into it very confident and I was very laid back. And I guess in Apprentice past, no one ever does three project manager tasks in a row, so it was like wearing on me. And I probably wasn’t as sharp as I could have been if I had been able to take a few weeks off and then go back to being another project manager. So it’s a lot of stress, it’s a lot of stress being the PM. You have to make all the decisions, you have to tell everyone where to go, you have to make sure that deadlines are met, and you’ve got to sell and win. So, it would have been really nice to have a week off in-between.
Watching the episode last night, it looked like your team was going to win, that’s kind of the direction the editing was going. Were you guys confident that you had won? What was the general feeling after the task was completed?
We were very confident. And I was just basing that on our sales skills alone. We had the top, Stefani [Schaeffler] is an excellent salesperson and Frank [Lombardi] is an excellent salesperson, as well as James [Sun]. And they had the entire supermarket covered and I felt like they basically sold honey to everyone that walked in the store. And I think at the day’s end, it was really the traffic that was driven through the grocery store that made the ultimate decision.
We know that the boardroom goes on for a lot longer than they show on TV. Can you give us some important, significant things that happened that we didn’t get to see as an audience last night?
Sure. There was a whole element of two other people that didn’t get a lot of face time last night. For one, Trump was really dissatisfied with Surya [Yalamanchili], the guy that I was going up against, and questioned him a lot more than what appeared last night. Also, there was an element where some of the people on my team felt that James should have been fired and I didn’t feel the same way. I thought that James did a good job and and Sean [Yazbeck] agreed with me. And I, in turn, did not bring James into the boardroom and that’s why Mr. Trump was so shocked and surprised when I brought back Nicole [D’Ambrosio]. But the thing is, I gave James a task and Nicole a task. James did his task well, he may not have done it as best you can, but Nicole did nothing with the task. Just go out and sell. She’s familiar with gas station sales; she said there was a market for gas stations, that’s what she told me. And at the end of the day, she didn’t sell anything. So how could I not bring her into the boardroom, selling nothing? And Mr. Trump did not understand that.
In hindsight, for you, personal feelings aside, do you think you should have targeted someone else (James or Nicole) instead of Surya? Do you think you would have had a better shot?
Maybe in the show’s perspective, I may have had a better shot in staying on board. But, I went with my gut and I went with who I felt was the weakest person on our team. I’m a very positive person, and that probably turned out to be one of my faults. I had so much confidence in everybody else’s ability that it was very difficult for me to even select someone who did a sub-par job that wasn’t myself.
At the very end of the episode last night, they showed Surya really being upset over things that you had said in the boardroom. What was your reaction to that?
You know, I had told Surya before we went in that I was going to bring him into the boardroom and I didn’t really know that he was that surprised about it. I mean, they showed him on TV, he was with the station and Stefani, when I gave him his own station he didn’t stay there. And it was just the fact that he was a weaker salesperson and I felt he stepped on Stefani’s coattails a little bit. It’s not that he’s a bad guy or even doing anything unethical, it was just that he didn’t perform. And he felt like, I mean that’s obviously a judgment call, but he felt like that was not correct.
Who are you rooting for now that you’re off the show?
I think that James, Frank and Tim [Urban] are going to do really well. So those are my boys from Arrow and I think they’re going to do awesome.
One last question: What do you have on tap for the future?
I’ve got a lot of new and exciting offers and opportunities that I’m entertaining right now. I’ve got people going to my website www.aaronaltscher.com and you know throwing offers out there. So hopefully, unless I get the tap on the shoulder from the Trump organization, I’ll be fielding new offers.