Friday, March 30, 2007

A Reality Check From ... Angela Ruggiero (NBC's "The Apprentice")

Three-time Olympic Ice Hockey Player Angela Ruggiero, 26, grew up in Los Angeles, California and Harper Woods, Michigan. She graduated cum laude with a degree in government from Harvard University. A star player on the U.S. Olympic Ice Hockey Team, Angela won a Gold medal in 1998, a Silver medal in 2002 and a Bronze medal at the 2006 Olympics. She was the first woman non-goalie to play professional men’s hockey in North America, earning a place in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Angela is the founder and president of a girl’s hockey school; the author of “Breaking the Ice,” her inspirational autobiography; and the director of the New York Islanders’ Project Hope — an organization that provides young Chinese athletes with access to educational opportunities. In addition, she is currently training for the 2007 World Championships with Team USA as well as the 2010 Olympics.

RC: You’ve achieved so much: Harvard educated, published author, Olympic gold medalist, Hockey Hall Of Fame … do you ever find time to sit back & take it all in?
AR: I try to do that. You definitely have to stop & take a big deep breath & appreciate all yo'uve been given & worked for.

RC: What was it like being a woman in a men’s professional hockey league? Did you find it challenging or intimidating?
AR: They respect you for being a good hockey player. The Oilers definitely did that. It was a good mental preparation for life. You go in & tell yourself you’re prepared, hocky is hockey & not to get so overwhelmed with what you can’t control ... with what people are thinking are saying.

RC: For those who weren't familiar with this year's process, tell us how you would up on The Apprentice?
AR: There was an online poll during the Olympics on People could vote once a day for their favorite athlete on a ballot. I got call one day saying I had received the most votes.

RC: And you were ready to go?
AR: Yes, I was relaxed & ready. The Olympics had ended in February, I traveled, and we didn't start filimg until the summertime. I bought all of Trump’s books to get myself ready!

RC: Is the board room everything you thought it would be? More intense?
AR: The boardroom was very intense. There's a film crew, Mr. Trump is sitting across from you. You're on constant defense.

RC: Let's go back to the last episode. Do you still feel that Nicole should have been the one to be fired or were you trying to deflect blame off yourself as the PM?
AR: Well I felt that Nicole steered us in the wrong direction. She got us all riled up, saying what Arrow was going to do. She has insider information and we had to take that into account. In my opinion, it was the wrong idea - running around chasing people as opposed to having them come to you. I was surprised I wasn't supported in the boardroom.

RC: Well, that seems like a fairly recent tactic. Like the contestants have figured out that if they all gang up on one person, Trump would probably fire them? Was that approach some of the time?
AR: Oh it was every time, gang up on one person. Kinetic was ruthless. Arrow would change who they would say they'd fire but Kinetic always ganged up on one person.

RC: You felt Arrow played dirty during the challenge. What irked you the most about their behavior?
AR: First off, we were told that we couldn’t have a booth. That was our first inclination, a booth with a ticket sign. Universal had said no but Arrow did it anyway. They were pulling people away claiming tickets were cheaper. The way they were operating on the space, selling tickets several times to families of 4 where kids could’ve gotten in for free. I’m not going to lower myself. I kept saying to Trump, "it’s quality over quantity." You really want someone who’s going to represent your company well & I was the leader. Unfortunately in business it’s a lesson. They worked hard but I wish they kept it a little more fair.

RC: Is there anyone that you are particularly rooting for?
AR: Well of course I’d like to see Kinetic win but it seems their numbers are dwindling. I like Stefani, she seems like someone not so much under the radar but playing a quiet role.

RC: What's next for you?
AR: Next – training for Women’s World Championships Apr 3-10 in Winnipeg. This will be my 7th World Championship. I still have my job with the NY Islanders. I'm staying involved in lots of different things. None of it conflicts with the live finale, I’ll be there.

Thanks so much to Angela Ruggiero for talking to Reality Check!
The Apprentice airs on NBC Sunday nights at 10pm EST

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