Credit: Bob D'Amico/ABC © 2011 Disney Photo: Kirstie Alley & Maksim Chmerkovskiy in Costume

Back in the States after shooting the Ukrainian version of The Bachelor, Maksim Chmerkovskiy is ready for his tenth season on Dancing With the Stars — and for his surprising new partner, Kirstie Alley. In a Wetpaint exclusive interview, Maks chats with us about Kirstie, his former partner Brandy, and how a real pro handles the judges.

How do you feel about your new partner, Kirstie Alley?

She’s really motivated. And she is absolutely hilarious. Our couple is the funniest on the show. We were told by a few producers that we need to be a little more serious. We’ve been tweeting each other and it’s hilarious. I’ve never been that free. It’s very relaxing. Her presence is very, just, chill. There’s no drama, there’s not going to be drama. She’s very smart. She knows what she’s doing and she does want to know how to dance. We’re going to go for stuff that makes her look great and that she feels great doing.

A lot of people say that you and Brandy should have made it to the Top 2 last season, but obviously people were slacking in the voting department. Do you think any changes need to be made to the scoring or do you like how much voter participation counts?

It’s my [tenth season] and it’s Season12 of the show. It’s one of the biggest if not the biggest show on television. I believe it’s an amazing entertainment and it’s promoting what I love the most. It’s been great for all of us dancers. Before the show nobody even knew what ballroom dancing was all about. Would I have liked to have won in the past? Yes! But I’m not mad. I think Brandy had a phenomenal season. I think it did wonders for her comeback. Whoever wins, wins because people vote. It’s the only show out there that gives viewers as much participation in the result as judges—if not more. If some people have been making the finals without getting the highest marks well, it is what it is. It’s great for the show because it creates drama, it creates controversy. I love the fact that our viewers have that much voice. It means you have to work on being loved.

We interviewed Mark Ballas recently and he was very protective of the pros. Do you think the judges can be unfair?

It’s not a big secret, but I had a meeting with production in which I said that when we’re in season us pros are so focused on our partner that we don’t really see anything outside of our rehearsal, and outside of our own dramas and problems. Last season I felt that I was being pointed out more in some instances than other pros and sometimes more than my partner even. I wish the judges would keep it more about the stars and not about the pros. A seasoned pro won’t let the judges affect the way they think or the way they dance.

Which celebrity would you most want to date?

I wouldn’t want it to be a trophy thing. Life is amazing. It’s very unpredictable. I love it. You could walk down the street and fall in love with somebody or you can fall in love with somebody that you never thought you would. Or you can go and do a dating show and find your true love. You never know.

Can you really find true love on a dating show?

I think it’s possible, yes. Depending on how true you stay to your emotions. [Laughs] But I can neither confirm nor deny that I found true love on the Ukrainian Bachelor, if that’s what your asking.