Murtzcellanious: Murtz Jaffer Talks To Apprentice 2\'s Chris Russo


It was a pleasure talking to Chris Russo about what life has been like after the show. Our discussion was informative and entertaining and I hope you enjoy it.

Murtz Jaffer: Can you tell me a little bit about your background?

Chris Russo: Alright, I come from a divorced family. My parents divorced when I was three. Only child. Didn’t exactly come from money. Always in trouble. Always independent. I wasn’t big in school. Never really cut it in school. I never did any work. I was always disruptive in school, but I still finished with an over-80 average. Never read a book. Well, I read Catcher In The Rye. I read it in highschool, but in highschool and middleschool I never really read anything. That obviously isn’t a good thing, but that’s what it was.

MJ: What about business-wise? Obviously you must have done some stuff to be cast on The Apprentice 2.

CR: To start off, just small and silly stuff. I started selling candy in school, then I had a gardening business with 30 when I was 13-14 years old. Then I used to sell roses for Valentine’s Day. Used to sell Easter and Mother’s Day plants, Christmas trees during Christmas. Had a paper route. Worked in a restaurant. Became a restaurant manager at a very young age. Bartended for many years. Then I became a stockbroker. Did the stockbroker thing for seven years and then I decided to open up my own firm and that’s where we stand right now. I’ve got 24 guys, me and a couple of partners have 24 guys. We started with 12 a year and a half ago, now we have 24 and we’re now opening up another office on February 1st at 30 Wall Street.

MJ: Is this sort of where they (NBC) discovered you?

CR: No, I sent in a tape to get into the Apprentice.

MJ: Right, right. But obviously you must have been reasonably successful for them to have considered you?

CR: Right, I had my own company. I was an entrepreneur. Only highschool background. Loudmouth. Very confident. I sold them very well when I went over there at the interview.

MJ: On the show, you just said that you were a loudmouth. Do you think that this was an accurate portrayal of how you really are?

CR: Yeah, I’m a bigmouth. But I am not a big mouth to the point where I am the annoying guy. And I am not saying that, just because you don’t want to be known as that. Everybody (and I am not saying this from a cocky standpoint) likes me. And if you don’t like me in the beginning, then you start to like me. Because I tell it like it is. I am rough-around-the-edges but then people say that ‘he’s got a good heart.’ He’s got something behind his big mouth.

MJ: When I was analyzing the contestants before the show, I was just like this dude is totally going to be the Apprentice’s version of Boston Rob (from Survivor). Do you get that comparison a lot in terms of like Survivor’s Boston Rob = Apprentice’s Chris Russo?

CR: I’ve never watched Survivor dude.

MJ: Well, I think the story is that people say that you have the thick New York accent and he has the thick Boston accent. I hear that a lot actually.

CR: Oh really?

MJ: Yeah, like a lot. As soon as you came out, they were like this guy is totally being built up to be Boston Rob…

CR: Yeah, you know what really pissed me off about the show? We really really f*cking sucked on the editing. They SUCKED on the editing this year bro.

MJ: That was actually my next question. You know how they gave Andy so much positive editing and the thing is that when he got fired, it sort of let the steam out of the entire show and that’s why nobody was really into that final two.

CR: Yeah, that’s another. Andy did a great job. I wanted Andy to win (except for me) obviously. After I was, I wanted him to win. Ironically, I was hanging out with him last night. He’s a good friend of mine. There was a couple of events where he didn’t show up. I think the first event (which was natural because it was the first event and he was the youngest guy). I think the housing task, from what I understand, is that he didn’t come off too good. There was a couple of tasks where I guess you could say he was weak. They just gave him a lot of airtime. But you know what? It’s good TV. He’s a young kid. Remember that it’s a TV show.

MJ: Do you think that it was because he was this young guy, this great character that he got so much airtime?

CR: Absolutely. And it’s the same way with me. There’s no way they would have fired me within the first couple of weeks. Unless I did something completely wrong. This is because I was the only one without college. You know what I’m saying? There’s certain characters that you know aren’t going to go at the beginning. When I was there, I didn’t feel that way because I was nervous. I didn’t want to be the first guy gone. There’s just certain things that you have to understand about TV.

MJ: If there’s any one thing that you could change about the show, what would you change?

CR: I probably would have been more of a controversial dick and just not be myself and been somebody else. Unfortunately, America is kind of dumb. I mean you see Omarosa now? She was a complete f*cking loser. She sucked. She was a horrible competitor, she was a compulsive liar, she’s still a compulsive liar and she’s still being rewarded. She’s the only person that didn’t deserve it and she’s being rewarded. She just got that Burger King commercial now and she was like 8 shows on season one? I don’t even know what it was. She was nothing. She did nothing that was…

MJ: Relevant?

CR: Relevant to the show and she’s a liar. And at the beginning America was like f- her, we’re not going to give her anything and now like I turn on the TV and she’s all over the place. She’s on a Burger King commercial. I am like this braud is going to make like a quarter million dollars or whatever it is and she had nothing to do with the show and she was a liar. My wife even said that I should be more controversial like Omarosa, I said that I am not going to change my stripes.

MJ: How did the producers decide which fired contestants were coming back like you to help out with the final show?

CR: You mean what they will tell you or the truth?

MJ: Both.

CR: Well what Trump said was that sometimes you have to work with people that you didn’t really get along with in the past. And if you really just realize it, the housing task was brought back from the first task with 4 people fired and then bootees 6-10 were brought back for the finale. And you know when people come up to me and ask if I would have changed anything about the final episode, and this that and the other thing. I always say no. I knew that there was no way that they were going to let me win. I know they wanted me to be in the final 4, but I knew that there was no way that I was going to win the whole thing. I’m honest to myself to know that. And especially because I am an entrepreneur and a boss and it’s tough for a boss to work for somebody. They know that. I am not the type of guy that can sit around and take orders. I mean I could take the orders from a guy like Trump but I think he also wants somebody that is more able to bow down and be more green. I think he wanted somebody who was more willing instead of somebody that would come in and lead. I don’t think that I would have been a great fit. I think they still wanted me to be in the top 4 to go through that interviewing process which would have been pretty cool. But after opening up my mouth, I think Hollywood really stepped in and said listen, this is what it’s really about.

MJ: You think that is why they knew that you would be explosive and that’s why they brought you back for the final show?

CR: If you remember last year, it was kind of boring having the same people that just got fired to come back, there was no steam or juice in that last episode.

MJ: Yeah, there’s no juice in it but don’t you think that is better because those ones that were there right at the end were much closer to winning and so this time it was like all the people that came back were fired early. Why bring them back instead of Andy?

CR: You want to know something? The last six people that were there were kind of boring. The personalities were me, Raj, Pamela. The real personalities, I think that’s it.

MJ: Were you surprised that Jennifer picked you first for her team and why do you think she did that?

CR: Yes, I was surprised. I didn’t want to be like the fat kid in dodgeball being picked last. Then I realized it was a sporting event and everyone knows that I am really into sports.

MJ: If you were Trump and could hire anyone, who would you have hired? I think you said Andy earlier.

CR: Well, I wanted to see Andy win just because the name of the show is ‘The Apprentice’ and not ‘The CEO.’ I would have already won. But if I was to say who I thought should be the Apprentice out of all the people there…

MJ: If not yourself.

CR: It’s tough. The problem is that Kelly is old and he has already been through a lot of shit. I think that he was the best guy for the job because he’s the type of guy that will just go down the line and just get something done. He’s never going to jump through hoops for you.

MJ: So bottom line, who would you take?

CR: Um, I don’t think Jennifer had it. I would probably still go with Kelly even though he is a little old and doesn’t really fit the idea of Apprentice at 37 years old. I still think that Kelly was the best fit for the job.

MJ: On the bridal shop challenge where you were fired, was there anything funny that we didn’t see?

CR: Yeah, there was a lot. A lot of stuff was funny. The funniest part was the whole idea was that when they gave us the task, I couldn’t get anything done after the first six hours. I said to them ‘listen, this is impossible.’ Let’s take the $10,000 seed money. Let’s go to Atlantic City. Let’s go to a Trump casino. We’ll f*cking make great TV. If we win, we’ll put it towards the pool money that we needed to sell dresses on. The rules committee comes out and they’re like, ‘no, you can’t do that.’ It says right here in the dossier that you can only make money selling wedding dresses. And I am like, who gives a f*ck? I am going to lose anyway so you might as well make great TV. Think about how great TV that would be.

MJ: Oh, there’s no doubt. That’s why I asked you the question…

CR: We’re in Atlantic City, rolling the dice. We’re playing craps…

MJ: Yeah, meanwhile they are running around doing all this work.

CR: And then you come to the boardroom and they’re telling him how much money they make first and they’re all nervous. Then they come to us, and we’re all hungover and shit. And they’re like well Chris decided instead that he wasn’t going to be able to win this task so he decided to take the $10,000 seed money and go to a Trump casino. Let’s see the footage… and it’s like WOOOOOOH!!!!

MJ: That would have been awesome!

CR: I would be f*cking the most famous guy in the country!

MJ: Yeah, you would have been. And imagine the stuff that you would have gotten from Vegas with like promos and stuff.

CR: I would be the most popular guy in the f*cking country bro. You know what? At the end of the day, it’s that f*cking Mark Burnett and his f*cking ass that was overdoing the Survivor and Contender bullshit…

MJ: ‘Cause you know the Donald would be down with that.

CR: 100 percent. He would have been like that’s awesome. Good idea. But the other guys in the rules committee, they didn’t take for it.

MJ: Who was the person that you most got along with, and the person that you least got along with?

CR: Raj, I got along with the most. Least, I’d say Jennifer and then Kelly.

MJ: Really? But Jennifer picked you for her team, I guess that just because she knew that you were good with the sports? I figured that you were friends and that’s why she picked you.

CR: She’s not a bad girl. It’s not that I dislike her. It’s just that she was kind of bitchy. She was so distanced.

I’ll also tell you about Ivana. Now I was friendly with Ivana, and I was the one that helped her beat the boardroom in weeks 2 and 3. She came to me, all upset and she was like ‘oh, I’m going to get fired.’ I told her not to go in with that attitude. This is what you have to do. I told her to look at him (Trump) in the eye. I said it’s early in the game, put the blame on somebody else and just fight. ‘Cause no matter what, if you show fighting early in the game, Trump is going to keep you around because it’s interesting to see how much more you will fight down the road. She’s sitting there with a pad and pen taking notes and shit. A couple of times I confided to her about Jen, and that night is when they switched up the teams. Now Jen was the f*cking PM of the team. When I was PM for the wedding task, this is when everyone was telling me that Ivana was a bitch and two-faced. I gathered the team and I said that we had to put all our bad blood behind us and work as a team. Everyone said that they agreed. You saw some of that on the show when I said that I was the f*cking boss now. Everyone said that they would put their personalities on the side and that we wanted to win this as a team. Then all of a sudden Ivana goes, ‘oh if that’s the case then why don’t you tell Jen that you told me that you thought she was a bitch.’ Now all of a sudden she came out and said that? We were friends. And this comes out at the meeting where I just said that we had to work as a team. What the f*ck was that? That’s immediately when I didn’t like Ivana anymore. She sold me out right there because she immediately put Jennifer against me and then she threw me out in the f*cking boardroom by saying that I was complaining and saying in her interview ‘that he’s good at identifying the problem and complaining.’ You have to understand the editing. They set you up to make a comment. They always say “Chris just said this, what do you think about that?”

MJ: That’s not just limited to you though. That is classic producing for reality TV.

CR: Absolutely.

MJ: You can’t be pissed at that. I am just trying to put my finger on why she did that?

CR: The thing is that at the end of the day, she really is two-faced. I defended her several times with Jen C and with Stacey. And then she stabbed me back. On my CNBC interview they asked me about being stabbed in the back, and I said ‘what goes around, comes around.’ Two weeks later, she’s stripping in New York City. When she got to her room after being fired, she hid in her room. Everyone wanted to kill her. The big dinner, she came out because everyone was there. She had to question whether Jen C and Stacey going to be there. She was scared that she was going to get her ass kicked.

MJ: Tell me about what you have been to up to since the show.

CR: Well obviously I am still waiting for the book to come out. That’s supposed to come out soon. We open up the other office on Wall Street.

MJ: The book, is it a life-story kind of deal?

CR: Turning adversity into success. The name of the book is B.R.O. Beating Ridiculous Odds. It’s a small book, like 80-90 pages.

MJ: It’s your own success story?

CR: Correct. Just working your way through adversity. How to put the odds on your side. How to beat a million people to get onto the show. How to work your way up the corporate ladder. Examples of people that got to where they are without a college education.

MJ: I am now happy to announce that you are joining What do you think about that?

CR: I think it’s cool. I am hoping that people will come to the website obviously. I am hoping there’s activity there.

Look for Chris Russo’s first column sometime this week and make sure to check out!

Murtz Jaffer is the world's foremost reality television expert and was the host of Reality Obsessed which aired on the TVTropolis and Global Reality Channels in Canada. He has professional writing experience at the Toronto Sun, National Post, TV Guide Canada, and was a former producer at Entertainment Tonight Canada. He was also the editor at