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New Port Richey-raised Anand Vasudev among 16 downsized contestants on NBC's The Apprentice



anand-low.jpgWhen he was laid off last year from St. Petersburg real estate company Echelon LLC, Anand Vasudev had no idea it would lead to a starring role on one of NBC's most visible shows.

But his tale of surviving ejection from a job managing a $500-million real estate portfolio made the New Port Richey-raised Vasudev a perfect candidate for Donald Trump's revamped Apprentice -- the first version of the business-oriented competition to feature non-celebrities in two years. Centered on a field of players aversely affected by the tanking economy, Trump's show welcomed the 1997 graduate of Berkeley Preparatory School, who moved to New York after his layoff and hasn't taken a salary in a year.

Vasudev, 31, joined 15 other contestants in vying for status as Trump's Apprentice, finishing up filming on the show about a month ago. As a longtime fan, he said the competition this year was more intense, because all involved felt they were playing for their professional survival.

"I thought I was indispensable...until I got laid off," said Vasudev (officials from Echelon declined to comment on his departure). "When you're cast out to sea, it's very humbling. (But) I knew this show was the opportunity of a lifetime, and I had to take full advantage."

NBC this morning announced the cast of the show, which includes a real estate agent from Miami, an Olympic swimmer who couldn't get a job after college and a certified public accountant from Texas who had to sell most of his family's possessions after his economic setbacks.


Born in Gainesville, Vasudev moved to New Port Richey as a child when his father Dr. U.B. Vasudev started his dentistry practice. But he never would have landed on The Apprentice without the influence of his mother, Ponnamma, a die hard Donald Trump fan.

"I think she really has a crush on him," he said, laughing. "She always said it would be her dream if I ever got the change to work with him. So I figured, what the heck, let me try out. So now I can admit it: I did it for my mom."

Check out a couple of NBC promos featuring Vasudev and The Apprentice below:

[Last modified: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 7:39pm]


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