New Port Richey-raised Anand Vasudev ejected from The Apprentice for cheating
He knows it sounds like sour grapes; the bitter protests of a reality show contestant who ultimately lost big on national television.
But New Port Richey-raised Anand Vasudev insists his early ouster Thursday from NBC’s reality TV show The Apprentice was overblown by the network, showing him kicked him off the show for cheating, even though other contestants may also have bent the rules.
Viewers Thursday saw Vasudev ejected by host Donald Trump in the show’s first few minutes after producers discovered he texted a friend, asking him to buy a pedicab ride during one of the show’s earlier challenges. (Even though contestants on the show’s celebrity editions are encouraged to call friends for help, the average joes competing in this fall’s cycle are not.)
Vasudev, 31, doesn’t deny messaging his friend, who he says never showed up. But he’s troubled by rumors that other contestants took off their microphones, hid in bathrooms to plan strategy and got outside friends to help with tasks without getting caught.
“I did something that I shouldn’t have done…(but) there was a lot of (cheating) that was rampant through the taping,” said Vasudev, who declined to name specific cheaters, saying one contestant’s friend approached him on a Manhattan street with tales of the rule-bending after filming had completed.
Vasudev was shown Thursday lying to Trump, initially telling the mogul he hadn't text messaged anyone. Then the host read the message, in which Vasudev told his friend to pretend he didn't know him and buy a cab ride.
“A lot of people who were on the show noticed things are not always (shown) as they happened,” added the ejected contestant, who blamed bad editing. “It paints a good picture and makes for great TV. But you don’t see the 35 other hours that were taped that they didn’t use.” (picture by Jeffrey Fried)
Vasudev isn’t the first ejected Apprentice contestant to complain about this year’s show, centered on contestants who were supposed to be adversely affected by the recent recession. Mahsa Saeidi-Azcuy, who eventually left a job in the Brooklyn district attorney’s office over her appearances on the show, criticized Trump for making sexist remarks about female contestants and encouraging male contestants to rate them.
Saeidi-Azcuy was shown being fired from the show Oct. 28 (the contest was actually taped this summer) after accusations she lied about communications with a member of a rival team. She immediately released a YouTube video promising to go after other candidates on the show if her name wasn’t cleared (the video has since been made private).
The controversies highlight how some unscripted series contestants remain unprepared for how they may be portrayed by heavy editing on so-called “reality TV” shows seeking to amp up drama. The non-celebrity Apprentice has struggled in ratings since its debut, scoring 4-million viewers last week, compared to 14-million for CBS The Mentalist and 10-million for ABC's Private Practice, according to TVBytheNumbers.com.
"Unless you go through this process, there's no way of knowing how it works," Vasudev said. "They'll pan the camera somewhere else so you can't see (audio quotes taken from other conversations). People just don't get it."
Last week, Vasudev was shown implying a fellow team member might be gay for the fascination he showed with a male model in preparing a commercial photo shoot. He now says that contestant, David Johnson, has become a good friend, even though they clashed during the show and Johnson eventually was fired by Trump.
Born in Gainesville and raised in New Port Richey, Vasudev was laid off by a St. Petersburg real estate firm last year. He was hoping time on The Apprentice might make his job prospects brighter; considering how his time on the show ended, now he’s not so sure.
“This is probably one of the more memorable exits in Apprentice history,” he said, ruefully. “So, at least I have that.”