funniest moment of the day (month/year?).

Today I got a phone call from a magazine fact-checker. It’s for an article having to do w/ex-reality TV people…

Him: spell your name
(me): S-u-r-y-a Y-a-l-a-m as in monkey-a-n as in nancy-c-h-i-l-i

him: can you confirm that you were on the TV show, The Apprentice?
me: yes.

him: can you confirm it was Apprentice season 6.
me: yes. The Apprentice LA…also known as season 6

him: can you confirm that you met, talked to, and rapped with Snoop Doggy Dog?
me: haha. yes, i can confirm that.

him: can you confirm that Donald Trump said “fo shizzle”?


5/27/13 – I think this was Cincinnati Magazine.

simple stories. and simple people.

I want to share a musing on The Apprentice because it ties in nicely with a personal reflection that’s been in my thoughts a lot lately.

I’m still amazed at how similar main elements from The Apprentice are to every day life. The Apprentice was all about simplicity. I’m not talking about the tasks, but the way producers boiled contestants down and the subsequent editing. The editing is basically an extreme caricature of each of the contestants. Fittingly, here’s a simple categorization of the editing:

1) The first category of edits: extremely flattering. It’s “earned” because the contestant survived until the end of the show. If you make it to the end of the show, the editors basically have to make you look as favorable as possible or the credibility of the show gets called into question. Many, if not all, mistakes, backstabbing, and ugly moments are totally glossed over and ignored.

2) The next category: assassination. Continue reading

Surya on The Apprentice: how it all began.

How did I end up on The Apprentice? This story is as interesting as anything that came after.

It’s the first Thursday in the eighth month of 2004 in Cincinnati. I’d been working and living in Ohio for a little over a year and had just stumbled upon a newspaper article mentioning that the hottest show on TV at the time, The Apprentice, was coming to Cincinnati to do a casting call the following day. While this seemed interesting to me, I never seriously considered it. I might as well try and be an astronaut.

Later that day, I saw a few Continue reading


So: I saw Europe. Or 4 amazing cities in Europe anyway: Berlin, Barcelona, Rome, and Paris. And they were…amazing!

Part of the reason I wanted to take this trip is because almost exactly a year ago, I was filming The Apprentice. I left for LA at the end of May last year and got back mid-July. I thought this was a great way to mark that strange one year anniversary.

I’ve got a bunch of random entries on the trip which follow each day. And since I’ve been away for so long, I’m also going to publish a list of what I’ll post over the next few weeks.

1) I’ll post for about a week or so on my trip to Europe– random recaps, reflections and a few photos.
2) Then I’m going to move on to some…yeah, you guessed it, Apprentice thoughts. Now that the show is buried, and it all feels like forever ago, I’ll post my  thoughts on the show. From the overall experience, to an episode by episode telling of some interesting tidbits never before revealed. I still get emails nearly weekly requesting “my side”, while it won’t be that, hopefully it’ll be an interesting set of posts.
3) Then I’m going to cross-post a few of the kick-off entries for here. This will also ensure that I don’t neglect that blog. I think it can be amazing if I get it some momentum and build a community.
4) If that ambitious agenda holds up, I’m going to kick off one more blog. This one will be the most frequently updated and is a spin-out of this one. If I get all the way down to #4 on this list, suryasays will totally become my personal blog and will focus more on random thoughts, and what’s going on in my life. Anyway, I think 90% of the audience will like this top-secret blog if it ever launches.

OK– the daily posting started just now, and continues tomorrow!

5/11/13 – Spoiler: I don’t think I did anything on this list. Oh well.

answering a ? no one asked.

I’ve now been through my fair-share of interviews. They’re actually a lot of fun. I’ve enjoyed them so much, that I’m now going to answer some questions that I haven’t been asked – but wish I was. Or maybe this is all just pretense for a random blog entry. Either way:

Q: Can you name some public figures that you like?  Why? Oh, and if you can pick some people that you’re reasonably certain no one else would pick that would be swell.

A: I’ll go to the sports world and pick two people. Manny Ramirez and Gilbert Arenas.

Both Ramirez and Arenas are super-talented, but not super-overexposed. They are not the most popular players in their sport and are both off-the-wall eccentric. And that’s the main reason I love them. Continue reading

my turn: on apprentice fan culture.

Part of the bargain of being on TV is being out there for “public consumption.” And consume the public does. It’s a trip digesting everything directed your way: the public’s judgment, leaps of logic, mocking, and even undue praise. Whereas once confined to living room discussion or the water cooler, the Internet puts all these thoughts, observations, and judgments out there for the world to see. The flipside of this bargain is that those posting also end up putting themselves out there for consumption as well. And now it’s my turn to judge and comment! Oh, what fun : )

I believe there to be three types of viewers/fans of The Apprentice (and most other reality shows from what I can tell):

The Professor. This type of viewer/fan has the strongest opinion. They believe themselves to be the show’s expert and dissect every second of the footage while assigning it astronomical value. They believe what they see on TV Continue reading

this isn’t that hard.

It’s raining in Cincinnati, and after spending all day in a spreadsheet, I’m kind of cranky. So this is a quick entry.

For the past 2 weeks, a very interesting phenomenon has occurred. And by “interesting,” I actually mean “terribly annoying.” Strangers constantly come up to me and call me “Sanjaya.” You know, that kid from American Idol. If you’ve seen the show you’d know that I look absolutely nothing like him. Then there’s the fact that he’s…16 years old (and I’m not). If they don’t call me “Sanjaya”, the second most common is a “Surya”-“Sanjaya” mix. Sanurya. Surjaya. Whatever. And yes, I’m being totally serious.

So the progression in my life has been like this:

11/81-12/06: I meet someone and it takes them 15 minutes to figure out how to say my name 15 different ways, before giving up.

1/07-3/07: People come up to me and say, “are you Surya?” or “are you Surya from the Apprentice?” Pretty surreal.

4/07-now: People come up to me and call me either “Sanjaya” or some horrid combination of both of our names. I proceed to just blankly stare at them.

So what’s going on here? Can people really not handle any more than one Indian name at a time? Can people not tell two very different looking / aged Indian-Americans apart?

If there’s any justice in the world, somewhere, wherever that Sanjaya kid is, people are coming up to him and asking him about his fascination with whiteboards and the word “absurd.”

3/28/13 – Ha – I totally remember this. The part that sticks out to me in retrospect, was how upset people got when I would just stare at them and say “No. I’m not.” I just saw last month that someone photographed Sanjaya in NYC playing his guitar and singing for coins. I wonder if anyone looked at him and said “Surya?”

The Apprentice: looking at circumstance & outcomes.

I’ve got a series of thoughts on the Apprentice that focus more on my emotional reaction towards the other contestants. I don’t want to write about any of that stuff for at least a year,  until I have more distance with time. But a frequent question I’m asked is around regrets and how I view the experience. So here goes:

There’s the saying that “as you make your bed, so just must lie in it.” I’ve always found the saying a bit empty and inadequate. I think a more apt analogy that describes many situations in my life and I think, my Apprentice experience, as well:

Life is about digging your grave.

In the broadest sense, we dig our graves every day, Continue reading

my debrief on the apprentice…

An Introduction
I want to start by thanking my friends and family. I couldn’t ask for better. Frankly, you’re all better than I deserve. Your kind words of support (and your anger at your TV’s!) have helped me escape this bizarre experience relatively sane (or as sane as before anyway).

I write this for a broader audience, and so I start with an explanation of who I am and how I approached this. I’ll start with some of what you already know: I can be a pretty serious guy. Based on my portrayal on the show, not exactly shocking. So, fair enough. I’m not ashamed or embarrassed that I took the show seriously, because I approached it as a job interview. That every minute we were there, we were going to be judged. Judged not only by Donald Trump, but also by our parents, our best friends, loved ones, ex-teachers, everyone.  So I made certain promises to myself: I wouldn’t talk behind people’s backs or resort to petty personal attacks, I would attempt to be intelligent in how I approached all situations, and I would try to not get caught up in the intenseness of the experience. I boiled it down into 3 words that I repeated when the experience got especially intense: Integrity, Intelligence and Grace. All in all, I’m proud of how I stuck to this.

Going back to my “seriousness”– that all stemmed from a responsibility I felt. Generally in life, I feel obligated to make the most of all the opportunities afforded to me. The Apprentice felt like a once in a lifetime opportunity. I vowed that I would tear myself to shreds, and work as hard as humanly possible to do the best I could. And I felt a responsibility to all the people who had sacrificed so much for me to get to where I was: My family (especially my mom), teachers, friends, etc. I’ve been blessed with so many amazing people in my life who care for me deeply and without who’s help, I would not be anywhere in my life today. So I’ve always felt pushed by a deep desire to never look in the mirror and feel like I’ve let them down. And that fed my seriousness in certain situations. For those of you who know me, the fact that I’m explaining why I’m “so serious” is pretty entertaining in the face of my constant group hugs, terrible nick-name giving, and my general stupidity. OK…this ends the long introduction to me.

In the interest of not writing a book, which this could easily turn into, I’m going to focus on one or two points from each of the last four horrifying episodes. Consider it your sneak-peak behind reality TV:

Ep 5: Honey
On the craaazy marketing jargon: from the emails I’ve gotten it’s clear Continue reading