updated 04/17/2013 AT 8:00 AM ET
•originally published 04/17/2013 AT 10:00 AM ET
Bill Rancic is a successful entrepreneur, first winner of The Apprentice, current host of America Now and star/executive producer of Giuliana & Bill. He’s now the host of NBC’s Ready for Love and will be blogging about the series for PEOPLE.com. Follow him at @BillRancic
Welcome back to my blog about Ready to Love, the show that is becoming everyone’s guilty pleasure! Gwyneth Paltrow and Rachael Ray loved it and couldn’t stop talking about the first episode on Rachel’s show. And they are not alone. The buzz is off the charts. Last week we saw Tim making connections with a couple of women. This week, America watched as Ernesto and Ben took the hot seat.
If there is anyone I could compare Ernesto to, it’d be the Dos Equis guy. He’s got that “most interesting man in the world” appeal about him that leaves one simultaneously mystified and fascinated. I got to know him and can say that Ernesto is a true gentleman with a heart of gold. I know he became invested in this process once he heard professional matchmakers would be involved. Ernesto says he’s never been in love – and I think this experience is about to change his life.
Ernesto was in for a surprise when Alba, former Miss Puerto Rico, and Shandi, former Miss USA, introduced themselves from behind the wall. They revealed they had competed against each other in the Miss Universe pageant in 2004. What’s even crazier is that I was one of the judges at Miss Universe that year. It’ll be interesting to watch as these two go at it for round two – this time the prize of true love meaning more than any crown.
Olivia made an impression during her speech when Giuliana caught her reading off her hand. I don’t know if that’s cheating or not, but Ernesto found it endearing and wanted to meet her. Matchmaker Matt threw a curveball when one of the women on his team, Mandy, let Ernesto know she has a twin sister that came on the show for Ben. Maybe at the end of all this, Ernesto and Ben could keep it in the family? Do I smell a double wedding?
I was interested to see how the women would react to doing manual labor on their first date. But the real tension came when Shandi and Olivia couldn’t seem to get over their differences. When you have clashing personalities mixed with the pressure of a group date, things are bound to get spicy. I’m sure this won’t be the last feud we witness.
On the intimate dates, Ernesto looked like he was forming solid connections with Shandi and Mandy, but Victoria stood out for her reclusive behavior. I can understand not wanting to take off your robe on the first date, but isolating yourself is a surefire way to draw negative attention. Ernesto was a gentleman, but we all know you only have one shot at a first impression. It didn’t seem like Victoria made the most of her time with him.
Back at the stage, Giuliana tried to defend Victoria’s decision to keep on her robe. But Matchmaker Matt pointed out that if isolating herself is the way she acts when she feels uncomfortable, whoever Victoria ends up with will have to put up with that for the rest of his life. It’s an alarm bell, and I think this is the reason Victoria was ultimately eliminated.
His blind selection process was full of surprises. Renae made a bold move to get noticed by taking off her dress to entice Ben. A fellow Chicago native, Rachel, took a chance by dressing up in a superhero costume. A little unconventional, but I think Ben found it both intriguing and daring. The game-changing moment came when Kari, Ben’s ex-girlfriend, not only blindsided him by coming on the show, but confessed that he’s the one that got away. Ben had no idea his past would make its way into his future, but after a few introspective moments, he did eventually invite Kari around the wall. It made me wonder: If he wants Kari here, is the competition over?
Ben took his ladies on an incredible mud run but not all moments on the date were smooth sailing. Kari spent her time with Ben expressing feelings and getting emotional. Whether it was intentional or not, she gave Ben an extended hug that showed the other girls she’s not there to roll over for anyone. Later in the date, Ben and Rachel bonded over their nerdy sides – and then things heated up when they shared a kiss. On his intimate date with Tarryn, Ben surprised her with a chocolate cake for her birthday, which also led to a lip-lock. It looks like birthday wishes do come true
Back on stage, the girls questioned Kari’s reasons for pursuing Ben. My lovely better half took matters in to her own hands and after she conducted an impromptu poll – and we all found out that none of the girls trust Kari’s motives. The matchmakers sent Kari to the garden to give Ben a chance to clear the air and get some answers about their relationship. When Rachel was sent down with her, Ben was left with the impossible decision of starting fresh with someone new or rekindling what was lost with Kari. In the end, Kari won out, and Ben sent Rachel packing. I predict this girl has plenty more surprises up her sleeve.
Next week, all three guys will take the stage. Tim’s date will get wet and wild; Ernesto will bring a spy; and Kari confronts Ben about the connections he’s making with the other girls. The journey has only just begun! And it’s only going to get better.