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Even though he worked in real estate, it was a real-estate challenge that was Raj's downfall.
updated 11/11/2004 4:58:56 PM ET 2004-11-11T21:58:56

Apparently, Donald Trump doesn’t like bow ties.

Real estate developer and frequent bow tie wearer Raj Bhakta, 28, was the latest candidate fired by Trump on the second season of “The Apprentice.” As project manager of the Apex team, Bhakta failed to increase the value of a Long Island house, and the Mosaic team won.

“I lost a real estate task to a wedding planner, and I’m in the real estate business,” Bhakta told The Associated Press on Friday. “I think Trump fired me because, without even looking at the stinking pygmy bedroom I had to work with, the very idea of taking a four-bedroom house and making it a three-bedroom house was bad.”

Bhakta, who lives in Vail, Colo., and Philadelphia, was portrayed as an over-the-top flashy flirter on the NBC reality show. During the latest episode, Trump warned Bhakta of the $20,000 seed money: “Make sure you spend it on the house, not on the women, Raj.”

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“Showing the full spread of my personality was both a blessing and a bane in many ways,” said Bhakta. He said he’s been accosted by fans on the streets of Philadelphia. One woman, he said, “doubled over like she had seen John Lennon.”

Despite the attention he’s received, Bhakta said the “Apprentice” experience was far from luxurious. He didn’t like being followed by cameras 24 hours a day or the back-stabbing among candidates.

“It showcases the underbelly of human nature,” he said. “Someone is forced to draw the knife and drive it down your spine.”

Bhakta, a moderate Republican with political aspirations, said of his newfound fame: “I’ve always been famous in my own mind.”

Oh, and what about his post-firing attempt to get the phone number of Trump’s receptionist, Robin Himmler, who calls the apprentices into the boardroom?

“I’m having dinner with her tonight,” he said.


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