Put him in front of Len Goodman on a day when the crotchety judge has missed his nap; pair him with a lazy diva that he has to drag around the dance floor; let Carrie Ann Inaba paddle away at his backside – after a stint as the Ukrainian Bachelor, Maksim Chmerkovskiy just wants back on the parquet.
“[It was] the hardest thing that I’ve ever done,” he tells PEOPLE of shooting the reality show. “If I knew then what I know now, I would never have signed up. I would do Dancing with the Stars for the rest of my life before I do something like this ever again.”
It’s not like the ballroom dancer is one to shy away from the attention of a group of beautiful women, but Chmerkovskiy admits he may not have done all of his homework.
“I had never seen it,” he says of the American version of the dating show. “But I still knew what it was about. In theory you think you can do it, but when you’re in it you cannot realize how difficult it is.”
Looking for love while being followed by cameras is one thing, but what Chmerkovskiy, 31, wasn’t prepared for was the fact that at seemingly every turn, he was breaking hearts.
“The fact that I had to choose people was something else,” Chmerkovskiy said during a Rolling Stone party at Drai’s at the W Hotel in Los Angeles. “People should never be lined up and chosen. We’re not objects and we’re not supposed to be lined up like that. It’s terrible and it’s like I was back in high school.”
And while he can’t say whether or not one lucky girl got the final rose, Chmerkovskiy points out that being the Ukrainian Bachelor had a unexpected perk that very well may have changed his life.
“There was a psychiatrist on staff who I ended up speaking to everyday, and it was very therapeutic,” he says. “It wasn’t that I had issues to fix, but talking to someone who was a professional everyday really helped me a lot, so that was an amazing experience.”
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