Defeat in an MTV VJ contest didn't hinder Dave Holmes.
Dave Holmes just may be the luckiest loser in all of TV.
In 1998, he finished second in an MTV contest to find a new VJ. Jesse Camp, the guy with the disheveled hair and wacky clothes who won, has since faded from the TV scene. But Holmes is still working.
He turns up next week as host of CBS' "Fire Me ... Please!," and he has a recurring role on Comedy Central's "Reno 911."
Holmes, who often finds himself hosting with beautiful women, said he's just a regular guy.
"I've come much further than I ever expected on very, very little," he said. "I'm just an average joe who got incredibly lucky."
Lucky indeed. He's been the host of both an E! program alongside Brooke Burke and a show on Court TV.
Starting Tuesday at 9 p.m., CBS will air four, hour-long episodes of "Fire Me ... Please!," a series where contestants attempt to get unknowing managers to fire them. The contestant who's axed closest to 3 p.m., but not after, wins $25,000.
No surprise, the players go out of their way to be the most annoying employees ever. In the first episode, a young woman working in a hat shop takes off her shoes, tries on the hats, sits on the floor when customers are in the store, and wears a tiara.
Another drives his fellow coffee shop workers bonkers by yelling at the customers.
"We're all sort of behind closed doors and watching," Holmes said of the production. "It's brutal. We've edited it down. It's funny to watch in its shorter version. But when you're watching all day long, it's a prank that goes on six hours."
A couple of times, the production team almost got caught. "Someone thought something was awry," said executive producer Eric Schotz. "It was brilliant. Our contestant went to them and said, 'What, we're on TV?'"
Schotz declined to discuss specifics about the production, fearing his team wouldn't be able to do it again.
"It's an enormous undertaking in terms of the gag. It's eight hours," Schotz said.
After each contestant is released - or fired - they're interviewed by Holmes, who tells them who won. The contestants also return to the workplaces with a camera crew in tow to capture the faces of the people they've pranked.
"It's like watching a good-natured prank go off," Holmes said.
As for MTV, Holmes has little contact with the network that helped launch his career.
"I pop up on occasion and do clip shows on VH1," he said. "I'm 34. It's like Menudo, you hit a certain age and you're out. Also, I can't tell Lindsay Lohan from Hilary Duff, and I just don't care."