Michael Tarshi was my favorite Apprentice candidate and I thought that he played an upfront and honest game. It was great getting a chance to get his perspective on what went down.
Murtz Jaffer: Hey Michael, it’s Murtz. Are you ready to roll?
Michael Tarshi: Ready to roll.
MJ: So what are you doing up in LA?
MT: You know, just doing all the Oscar parties and doing some stuff with my publicist. Just trying to get a game plan.
MJ: Are you going to be at the Oscars?
MT: I wish. I’ll be around there, but I won’t actually in there. I’m not that big of a… let’s be realistic. It’s just the Apprentice. I’m not like Tom Cruise or anything. Just go to some parties and socialize.
MJ: That sounds good. Where are you from originally?
MT: I’m from Boston.
MJ: Oh really? That’s where Danny Kastner is from right?
MT: Yeah, Danny Kastner’s from here.
MJ: Well then how come the Boston boys didn’t get together on the show?
MT: Oh, we hang out all the time. Danny is a really good friend of mine. He’s a good guy. I see him a lot.
MJ: Did you click on the show that much or was it just after the show?
MT: Maybe at the beginning. Toward the end, we had little arguments but other than that, we are good friends. Everybody argues. Brothers and sisters argue. He knows how to push my buttons and I know how to push his.
MJ: How do you push your buttons?
MT: He would tease me all the time. He would egg me on. He liked to tease me a lot about being lazy and what not. Egg me on. He knew how to do it. He was good at it. I knew how to get him all worked up (by calling him a middle-aged man in a leisure suit).
MJ: (Laughs). It’s sort of seemed like you guys were always at each other’s throats and I would think that if you were both from Boston… you know… if I can’t win, I’d want my Red Sox brother to win for me.
MT: I know. I think we were like that at the beginning and we still were like that, but at the end of the day, the game is the game. People want to get as far as possible.
MJ: It seems like you were given strong character editing on the show. Everybody knew who Michael was and what Michael was like. Is that the real Michael that we saw?
MT: You know, I am not lazy. Ultimately, I am a hard worker and I get the job done. All the episodes where I was really showcased was like ‘Michael’s the lazy one.’ When in doubt, blame Michael. That was the whole thing behind the show. When in doubt, blame Michael. I didn’t really mind. It was obvious that my team was ganging up on me and I didn’t really have a choice. I was a scapegoat in the whole operation.
MJ: Why do you think that the Magna team sort of picked on you?
MT: I think that I was very charismatic. I was always making jokes. I never really took things too seriously. I always used to joke around and be really friendly to people. I was overly friendly and that opened up a lot of doors. People kind of took advantage of that. I was very open with people. I was honest with everybody. I never really lied to anybody. Being that way on the show, everybody’s there to rip your jugular out to win.
MJ: Can you give me an example of when your honesty came back to haunt you?
MT: Put it this way. If I don’t like somebody, I will tell them outside of the boardroom. If I don’t like somebody, I’ll say ‘listen, you’re a jerk… screw off.’ You know what I mean? I am not going to sit there and BS the entire time. They go in the boardroom and start going after me. I’ll start at them before I even go in the boardroom. That’s how you have to be in business. That’s one thing that I had a lot of trouble doing because if I didn’t like somebody, I’d tell them. If I liked them, I wouldn’t pretend that I liked them all the time. Then when they got in the boardroom, they would turn on me.
MJ: That’s like Kristen as well. You both had this sort of ability to tell people right to their face what you thought of them.
MT: I tell people off constantly. That was my downfall.
MJ: Tell me a little bit about your fascination with European women. You mentioned them at several points in the show and you even wanted to use them in the Nescafe campaign.
MT: Well, my girlfriend is Eastern European. It was a little plug for her. In terms of Nescafe… Nescafe is a European product. It’s one of the top five brands in Europe. It’s huge. I have traveled a lot in Europe and I said to my team (and they really should really have listened to me), you know… let’s do a European cafÃƒÆ’Ã‚Â©. We’ll get attractive models from Europe and attractive men and women from Europe, hand out coffee, give away mopeds and make kind of a European scene. That’s essentially what Nescafe is. It’s a European brand. My team didn’t really understand it. I was very upset with Danny. They would not listen to me. Maybe it’s because I joked too much before and they might not have taken me seriously. His idea wasn’t that good considering what the brand was.
MJ Well, when I talked to Danny Kastner, he said that the reason Net Worth won the task is because they were able to twist what Nescafe wanted. They were able to sell hot and cold coffee.
MT: One of the things that I actually wanted to do was make a European drink called the frappe. That’s a European drink that they make with Nescafe. It’s cold milk and coffee. I wanted to make that. I wanted to have a number of different drinks. Unfortunately, that never made the cut. I was a little upset. If you’re staying with these people and they never listen to you, you get a little ticked off. Would you not?
MJ: You’d get a little ticked off but would you outright just say that you aren’t going to do anything?
MT: I did things. I worked. What you don’t know is that the whole team was kind of angry with Danny during that entire time. Danny wouldn’t give any direction. Danny didn’t really get anything done. If you don’t make a decision, you’re in trouble. I was kind of being a mouthpiece for the team because I was really the only one who could speak loudly enough. I could tell Danny off. I asked Danny what he was doing. I said ‘Danny, listen, this is ridiculous. This is a highschool production that we are putting on.’ I was being honest and candid with Danny because I had the ability to be candid because I was exempt. You see what I mean?
MJ: When they said that you were exempt and that you were using that to your advantage, do you agree that it’s because you had the exemption and that’s why you more in Danny’s face?
MT: Yeah, absolutely. It wasn’t the point that I was lazy. The point is that I was asking Danny what we were doing. I told him it wasn’t right. I think the team turned on me. I had no idea until I got into the boardroom that my team wanted to get me fired. I had no idea. When they said that, you saw me. I was like ‘are you kidding me?’ From the beginning I thought we were going to get rid of Danny.
MJ: So the whole time they were telling you that you were all going to knock off the PM (project manager) instead of you?
MT: Well that was the vibe that I got.
MJ: I think a lot of the editing has shown you and Stephanie as being the villains this season. Who do you think is the bigger villain? Michael or Stephanie?
MT: Oh my gosh. Stephanie. I am not the villain. I don’t have a bad bone in my body.
MJ: That’s the one trend that I have noticed. Everybody is saying that Stephanie did this and Stephanie did that, what is it about her that everybody seems not to like?
MT: She’s just so like whiny and witchy. She whines too much. You know? That’s the first time I have been called a villain. I was never villainous to anybody on that show at anytime (or so I thought). What you see is on TV. If you could see us outside, I am best friends with everyone of them.
MJ: What about you and Stephanie?
MT: I am friendly with Stephanie but people kind of keep their distance from her. She’s a good girl and she’s nice but I don’t really think people talk to her that much.
MJ: So you’re one of the rare ones that do?
MT: I say hi every once in awhile. I have a good judgment of character and I think everybody’s decent but some people are just more special than others.
MJ: Tell me more about you and Verna. Initially it seemed like you were sticking up for her (when you were the PM), and then she just ended up quitting. What is your take on her and how much did that hurt your team? You won, so probably not that much.
MT: I tried my hardest to coach Verna. It was a very long task. It was three days long. I was getting a little agitated with Verna because she really wasn’t working that hard. I said ‘Verna, we gotta push through.’ I was trying to be a gentleman the entire time. I was the PM. I was ultimately responsible for Verna’s actions and I think Verna is a very good woman. I think she went a little overboard by leaving the entire motel task. It wasn’t that bad, I didn’t think she had to leave. Maybe she just needed to just go for a walk, which she essentially did, to air her head out and think things over. It really wasn’t as bad as she made it out to be. I was never out to get her. She thought I was out to get her by why would I? I even told her. If we lost that task, I am the project manager. I will be fired. This is before she even left. When she was really nervous. Essentially I thought that if we won or lost it was still amazing because that was an amazing task. For all of us. To do all of that in 48 hours, that was insane.
MJ: Why did you step up for that task? To become the PM. Was it something about the hotels?
MT: Well, I am a realty developer. I’d like to get into the hotel business essentially. I think that task was almost designed for me. Danny may get a little more credit for the party than I did, but we were both really pivotal parts of the party. Socializing with people and making sure everybody was happy. I ultimately knew that it was impossible to renovate 14 rooms with $20,000. It’s absolutely impossible. The whole key to that task was to realize that $20,000 was not enough. There’s something else. You have to use that $20,000 to maybe make the rooms presentable, but the whole concept of that entire task was about customer service. Nothing about ripping out toilets or making everything perfect. I am a developer. It costs the same amount that they gave us to do two rooms. Let’s be realistic.
MJ: Could you tell me what made you try out for the show initially?
MT: I am a huge fan of the show. I watched the show and I said ‘I can do that.’ These people aren’t any smarter than I am. I have always been kind of a go-getter with my real estate company and I have always wanted to work with (and not for) Donald Trump. Whether it be building homes or buildings. I am a developer and I’d like to do business with him. I am not all about getting a job. I am more about working with him, not for him.
MJ: You said you watched the show before. Are there any people from previous seasons that you identified with?
MT: To be honest with you, I didn’t really identify with anybody. I am myself. I don’t think there has ever really been a character like me on that show. I think we’re all really unique and I think the whole casting process is to keep everybody unique. I don’t think they want cookie-cutters of previous seasons.
MJ: I told Danny and Kristen this, but you were my favorite on the show.
MT: Thank you.
MJ: And it was funny because they were like “Michael… really?!”
MT: (Laughs). They just want it too.
MJ: I thought Danny thought that I was going to say him and instead I told him that he was the one that everybody loved-to-hate and he got all offended. It was really funny. I just thought you were the person that was the most real. You had the smarts and you also had that ego that is necessary to be an effective leader.
MT: Thank you.
MJ: No problem. Do you think that is synonymous with your own personal business style. This little bit of an ego, do you think that is what separates leaders and chiefs from followers?
MT: Everybody on that show has to have an ego. Let’s be honest. Those are the best people in the country at business. If you don’t have an ego and you got that far, you shouldn’t be doing it. It’s imperative to have it, you have to.
MJ: Do you think they all had one? Obviously you think they all had one, but do you think that it came out on the show for everybody or just for a certain few?
MT: I think they all have an ego. That’s the whole concept of doing a show like that. Everybody thinks that they know everything. You know what I mean? It’s tough to work with people that think know everything about business. It’s essential to have an ego to get far in business. You can’t just walk around and let people walk all over you. Like when I told Danny to screw off… granted it was early in the morning and I was dead tired but I told him to screw off. I can tell him that as a businessman. Listen Trump tells people to screw off all day long. That’s just part of business.
MJ: Can you define your own personal business style?
MT: Well, one of the main things that I have always tried to emphasize is being true to yourself and having good business instinct. It’s not about education. I have gone to good schools. It’s about having the ability to relate to other people. And work with them. Being respectful to everyone, whether it be the trashman or the CEO of a company. I treat everybody equally. When I gave Trump my business card, I really don’t care who he is. He’s just a successful man. Big deal. I give the guy who works at the pizza shop a business card too. I really don’t care how successful somebody is. I admire success, I don’t get envious of it. I respect it. I am not intimidated by success.
MJ: Speaking of your exit, it was the most memorable of any season. Especially when Trump asked why you were being nice to Bren when he insulted. I thought this was one of the funniest things that I have ever seen but we really didn’t get to hear your response. You remember when the camera was focusing on you right after Trump was like ‘Michael, what are you doing?’ How were you trying to explain that because it really didn’t come out on air?
MT: Basically I was telling Bren that he did a great job. It was being more sarcastic. ‘Hey Bren you’re doing a great job.’ ‘Keep it up my man!’
MJ: So that was all sarcasm?
MT: Total sarcasm! He was being an ass, trying to get me fired? Total sarcasm. They gotta make it interesting for television right?
MJ: But then when Trump called you out and he was like Michael, what are you doing? I know you were trying to explain it to him but we didn’t hear what you were saying.
MT: He wouldn’t let me! He wouldn’t let me explain. I was being sarcastic and I couldn’t get the word out.
MJ: All you were going to say was that you were being sarcastic?
MT: Yeah. I was just being sarcastic. Bren’s my buddy and I had trouble firing back at him. He’s my friend and I had trouble saying something bad about my friend. I can’t really separate friendships and boardrooms too much.
MJ: Before you went on the show, did you intend to leave your card for Trump when you got fired or was it a spur-of-the-moment decision?
MT: Believe it or not, I had a lot of my cards. I always have business cards in my suit pockets. I forgot that I had them and I was playing with them in my pocket and I was like ‘oh, a business card.’ It just came to me when I was leaving that I should give him one. So I just left it there. You have to drop a card here and there. Why the hell not?
MJ: This is what I think separates you from everybody else on the show. Everybody else plays to the camera. I don’t think that you do. I think that you are genuine and it always makes me laugh when they are like ‘Michael has an ego.’ I think that the act of the card itself and the fact that you are being sarcastic with Bren shows that you are real. Do you agree?
MT: Of course I am real. That’s essential. We’re all real. I think that some people just try to make it more dramatic for camera. That’s bullshit. You can’t do that.
MJ: You often refer to the fact that Trump winked at you. Do you think that you were his favorite and if so, why did he fire you?
MT: I wasn’t supposed to be fired. I just opened my mouth up and got him pissed off. In that previous boardroom, Trump looked at me and he gave me a wink to say that I was alright. That I was safe. He knew my team was going after me. Why did Erin bring me in for that whole cucumber porno? Like I did something wrong?
MJ: Is that when he winked at you?
MT: That’s when he winked at me. Then when we got back to the suite, I told everyone that he winked at me and that the boardroom wasn’t that bad. That it was fun. The boardroom’s fun. It wasn’t that big of a deal to me. He fires me, he fires me. He winked and me and said ‘don’t worry Michael, I know your team is trying to gang up on you.’ They were ganging up on me constantly. That’s how I interpreted it. They were totally ganging up on me.
MJ: Do you think that the other people were jealous when you said that he winked at you?
MT: Everybody wants a little wink, don’t they?
MJ: How surprised were you when the teams were divided by college degrees. Would you say that you are only a book smart person or are there more levels to you?
MT: I am both. I think I am book smarts and street smarts. I have gone to top schools all of my life. I have gotten into business schools and gotten into law schools. I didn’t go to either of them, I deferred admission. I think I have both. I have a lot of common sense. I think a lot of people lack common sense. That where their downfall comes in. Common sense is key. You gotta have common sense.
MJ: Who on Magna, do you think had common sense?
MT: I think Bren had some common sense (despite the whole porno thing). I think Alex has a pretty level-head. They all do in their own little way. It’s tough to have it really come out when you are under such tight deadlines and time constraints. It’s really insane.
MJ: Which is why people like Verna just are forced to quit.
MT: I wish Verna understood that we were not trying to get her. That was just total BS. I was really offended when I watched that actually. I was trying to be so nice and accommodating to her the entire time.
MJ: I remember because you had that whole, ‘don’t judge a man by the color of his skin but by the content of his character’ line from Martin Luther King. It seemed like you were being nice to her and they had that editing on the second show but then when it went to the third and fourth episodes, it was like they built you up as a hero and then all of a sudden you became this bad villain guy.
MT: I wasn’t too villainous. I was more of the lazy villain.
MJ: Those are the best kind.
MT: Yeah, they’re fun villains. Everybody can’t be the nice guy.
MJ: To me it just seemed like Michael was this guy from the Sopranos who was cast on the wrong show.
MT: (Laughs). That’s a good point!
MJ: Everytime we saw you, you were scheming or if you didn’t like Danny’s idea… you were like screw it, I am not going to help whereas everybody else would like pander and cater to whoever the PM. I don’t think that you did that.
MT: I don’t need to kiss anybody’s ass. Is that another good quote to put in there?
MJ: Oh yeah totally. You should have seen the F-bombs that Danny was dropping. He’s a funny guy! You know what else was funny? When Kristen was telling me about Audrey.
MT: Oh please, I have heard it a 1000 times. I just saw her a little while ago in LA.
MJ: Well, what is your take? She told me to ask whoever is fired next (you) to tell me about Audrey.
MT: I never really worked with the girl in my life. She’s great to look at. She’s fun to look at. Maybe she’s a little difficult to work with. Is that a good one?
MJ: Let’s say that there was a little bit of a war. Team Kristen on one side and Team Audrey on the other… which one would you side with?…
MT: Oh, Kristen would annihilate her. Kristen would f—– tear her apart. To be honest with you, I don’t have time to deal with disgruntled females. I just walk away, I don’t really want to deal with it. I’ve been dealing with women all my life.
MJ: Do you prefer dealing with men in business?
MT: I am not saying in business, I just don’t want to get in the middle of arguments because I don’t like to argue with women. It’s not in my character. I am a gentleman. I just walk away. I don’t argue with girls. That’s like when I told Danny that I was going to throw him out a window. That came off so funny, I was so worried. I told Danny to shut the f— up or I was going to throw him out a window, I was worried they were going to make me look like a whacko.
MJ: Yeah, they didn’t really play it up but they screwed you on so many other things. I think they had to save you with the window line.
MT: Yeah, the window thing was funny. Like how am I really going to throw Danny out a window on the 11th floor of a building? Maybe I’ll throw him into a window, not out of a window. Let’s be honest. I should have slapped him a couple of times because he was getting crazy.
MJ: Or like hit him on his head with his guitar, Honky Tonk Man styles.
MT: The story was that I was actually sitting down and my back locked up (it was sore from carrying mattresses in the previous task). I had a back spasm. I just sat down for literally 30 seconds. Danny looked at me and he was like get the f— up! I got up and I started yelling at him.
MJ: So that’s why they made it look like you weren’t doing any work? Your back had locked up?
MT: Are you kidding? They didn’t show me lugging mattresses upstairs did they in the previous task? Or carrying things…
MJ: Instead you’re the lazy guy. The lazy Soprano. You must have expected that they were going to edit you in a certain way when you got cast.
MT: Oh, I knew they were going to make me look lazy. The lazy mobster.
MJ: Could you tell me who you liked the most, liked the least, would fire next and would hire to be your Apprentice?
MT: You know, I like Danny and Brian. Erin’s a good girl even though she busted my balls constantly. Erin’s a sweetheart, she didn’t mean anything when she said that stuff about me. It’s Erin, I don’t really care. It’s like Malibu Barbie dream court over here. Erin’s a good girl.
MJ: What about liked the least?
MT: On the show, I wasn’t too fond of Alex and Stephanie.
MJ: Are you cool with them?
MT: I am friendly with them, but I am not too fond of them. Weren’t my type of people.
MJ: Fire next?
MT: I’d probably fire Stephanie.
MJ: Ultimately hire to be the next Apprentice?
MT: I can see Erin winning to be honest with you.
MJ: That seems to be the popular pick just because everyone thinks that it has to be a girl this time.
MT: You never know. She looks good in a suit.
MJ: What’s next for Michael?
MT: Well, I got my real estate company. I am building homes in Massachusetts and Florida. I am trying branch off in the restaurant/nightclub business. I have a chocolate bar company called the Tarchi Bar which is just launching, and I am trying to take it across the country. I really want to have fun in the next year. I have done enough products, I have a surplus of money to try and experiment and do some new things. What the hell? Let’s try some new things. I’ll stay in Boston but I can travel easily.
MJ: Do you know Boston Rob Mariano?
MT: From Survivor?
MJ: Have you met him yet?
MT: Haven’t met him. Is he cool? Is he a nut?
MJ: He is the coolest guy in the world and if you ever run into him at a party, just make sure you go and introduce yourself because he is the man.
MT: I don’t even know what he looks like.
MJ: Just watch the Amazing Race.
MT: I should do the Amazing Race.
MJ: Who would you do it with? Your girlfriend?
MT: Probably Brian. We could be the next Blues Brothers.