Mahsa Saeidi-Azcuy is an Iranian-American Assistant District Attorney from Brooklyn, NY, who will be competing in Season 10 of NBC's The Apprentice. She is vying for the ultimate dream job in the vast Trump organization together with 15 other candidates who have in one way or another been hit hard by the economic downturn [Mahsa on Facebook]. Below is the interview she graciously gave iranian.com:
Could you please tell us a little bit about your background?
I am Bakhtiari. I think that has actually given me an edge in the competition. It's in my blood, it's in my genes, and from what I hear, our people are very passionate people. We go after what we want but we are also loving people. What you will see from me in the competition is how strong I am, maybe a little rough around the edges but I am also very passionate.
I was born in Iran and moved to Leesburg, West Virginia when I was in elementary school. Then, I went to the University of Virginia where I graduated pre-med biology. I immediately left for New York where I went to film school and worked in the industry for a little while. I decided I needed better communication skills so I went to law school. I graduated in 2009 and I have been a prosecutor ever since.
My dad started off with a convenience store when we first moved to the country and then, started making real estate investments. My mother owned a hair salon for 15 years but she just closed it down and she is now renting a station. My dad actually reminds me a lot of Mr. Trump because he's very outspoken. He speaks his mind without sugarcoating it. We came here basically with nothing and thanks to the efforts of my parents, my brother, my sister, and I are all doing very well now.
Have you every been back to Iran or ever plan to?
I went back in 2003 to Tehran to visit my family and my impression of it was, it's just like New York! It kind of blew me away.
Whose idea was it to try out for the show?
I have been a fan of the show since I was in undergrad and I always knew I wanted to be on it. I would watch it and think wow, I would be really good at this. Basically I was waiting for the regular version of the Apprentice to return after the 3 past seasons featured celebrities. This is the only TV show I have ever tried out for and the only time I ever tried out for it.
What was the audition process like?
I went to the open call auditions in New York. My husband and I woke up at 3 in the morning, got on the subway and we stood outside with a bunch of crazy people who were killing each other in the line outside! The line was all around 5th Avenue and I stood there for four hours until I got my chance, basically a one minute sit down with a producer.
Among hundreds, perhaps thousands of applicants, what did you do to make yourself stand out?
I was just myself. Mr. Trump was roaming around the room that day of the auditions, going from table to table and sitting in on some of the interviews that were going on at the same time. I was very lucky that he happened to sit at my table for the one minute I was being interviewed. So you're going to have to ask him what I did to stand out! (Laughs.)
What was your reaction when you got the call that you made the cast?
The producers called me in to tell me personally. My reaction was, I know this is going to sound so bad but, I knew I was going to get it. I believe in positive thinking and I know this might sound cheesy but i do believe in "the Secret." I had a vision of being in the show so many times that when the producers finally told me, I wasn't surprised, I was expecting it. So my reaction was "thank you" and I walked out.
What was the most difficult part of being on the show?
The most difficult thing about this entire experience was that I could only speak with my husband for a few minutes, if that, of a supervised phone call. When I walked in, they said okay give us your cell phones. I swear to you I started crying. That was very traumatic for me. Especially since it took 5-6 weeks of taping.
How long have you been married?
It's going to be 3 years in November but we have been together almost 6 years.
Is your husband also Iranian-American?
He is Puerto-Rican and Cuban, but I speak to him in Farsi and he knows how to speak it. All he eats is Persian food!
With all the controversy surrounding reality shows that are supposedly scripted and not real, what was your experience on the Apprentice?
I have to say that The Apprentice is one of the best-produced shows. And it is real. The tension is real. The feelings are real. The tasks are real. You work like an animal. You almost get no sleep. The producers are so careful with the rules that all the drama that unfolds on screen is real. The second you walk in, you feel the pressure and it starts to impact you. But that's also what makes it so fun to watch. And this season more than any other previous season, the craziest things happen, you have to watch!
What makes this season of the Apprentice different than the previous ones?
With the Celebrity version of the Apprentice, I feel like it's not cutthroat. They're not "hungry." And in this one, people will do anything. I mean, people are unemployed, they have nothing else going on, so everything is on the line for all of us. Nobody's quitting, you know what I mean?
If you indeed become the Apprentice, where in Mr. Trump's organization do you see yourself? What would be your dream job?
Well there are so many opportunities but one thing that would be kind of a natural fit for me would be the Miss Universe competition. I grew up in my mom's hair salon as a kid, I was surrounded by beauty. I have a beauty secrets group on Facebook. One of my passions is, I believe every woman can be beautiful and when you feel beautiful, every other part of your life is a little bit better. But I also know that Mr. Trump is opening a hotel in Dubai, and being Iranian, speaking Farsi, even my broken down version of Farsi, and being familiar with the Middle-East, I think that would be a good fit as well.
In 3 words, why should you win The Apprentice?
I can't say 3 words on anything, please! (Laughs.) Okay, here goes. Drive, Passion, Fire.
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