Alfonso Ribeiro picks his favorite to win 'Dancing With the Stars' this season

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By: Gibson Johns

Alfonso Ribeiro simply knows how to do it. Whether it's competing on "Dancing With the Stars," hosting "America's Funniest Home Videos" or fitting right in on the golf course or the race track, he's constantly keeping his eye on the ball. And -- chances are -- he's probably winning, too.

The the nineteenth champion of "DWTS" recently told us that one of his mottos in life is, "Second place is the first loser." Though he encourages his three children to always enjoy what they do, as an actor who knows that being second best doesn't score you the role, Ribeiro is firm in his belief that you can't succeed without giving your full effort -- and having fun.

At the same time, though, the actor is also quick to recognize things that he can be doing better. One season into taking over for Tom Bergeron as host of "America's Funniest Home Videos," Ribeiro made sure to take a step back before his season go round in an effort to understand what he -- and everyone around him -- could be doing better.

We caught up with Alfonso Ribeiro at the Tony the Tiger Press Conference in Midtown Manhattan last week, and it became clear that his partnership with the Kellogg's brand, which encourages youth to "Let Your Great Out," was a perfect fit for someone with as much natural charisma and work ethic as he has.

Check out our full conversation, which has been edited and condensed, with Alfonso Ribeiro below in which we talk about who he thinks will win "Dancing With the Stars," what he changed going into his second season as host of "America's Funniest Home Videos" and the lessons he wants to teach his children:

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Alfonso Ribeiro out and about
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 15: Actor Alfonso Ribeiro attends Tony The Tiger Press Conference debuting Tonys new look at the 620 Loft & Garden on September 15, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Desiree Navarro/WireImage)
AMERICA'S FUNNIEST HOME VIDEOS - 'Episode 2702' - This week's video highlights feature a series of pranks, including a mom who gives her kids special lollipops made out of broccoli, a music montage starring cats causing chaos, a package of slo-mo mishaps, a man who loses his pants while being chased by a goose, and a little girl who denies eating cotton candy even though she has pieces of it in her hair, on 'America's Funniest Home Videos,' airing on SUNDAY, OCTOBER 9 (7:00-8:00 p.m. EDT), on the ABC Television Network. (Michael Ansell/ABC via Getty Images) ALFONSO RIBEIRO
BEVERLY HILLS, CA - AUGUST 12: Alfonso Ribeiro (L) and his wife Angela Unkrich arrive for the 16th Annual Harold And Carole Pump Foundation Gala at The Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 12, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - JUNE 08: Actor Alfonso Ribeiro, wife Angela Unkrich and son Alfonso Lincoln Ribeiro, Jr. attend the premiere of 'Finding Dory' at the El Capitan Theatre on June 8, 2016 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
BURBANK, CA - MAY 02: Actor Alfonso Ribeiro attends the 9th Annual George Lopez Celebrity Golf Classic to benefit The George Lopez Foundation at Lakeside Golf Club on May 2, 2016 in Burbank, California. (Photo by Mike Windle/Getty Images for The Lopez Foundation)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 22: Actor and host of America's Funniest Home Videos Alfonso Ribeiro (L) speaks with Entertainment editorial director at AOL, Donna Freydkin at AOL Build Speaker Series - Alfonso Ribeiro, 'America's Funniest Home Videos' at AOL Studios In New York on April 22, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 22: TV personality Alfonso Ribeiro attends the AOL Build Speaker Series at AOL Studios In New York on April 22, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Bennett Raglin/WireImage)
THE CHEW - 4/25/16 - Alfonso Ribeiro is a guest on 'THE CHEW,' airing MONDAY - FRIDAY (1-2pm, ET) on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Fred Lee/ABC via Getty Images) CARLA HALL, ALFONSO RIBEIRO
NEW YORK, NY - APRIL 20: Actor Alfonso Ribeiro visits the SiriusXM Studio on April 20, 2016 in New York City. (Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images)
LONG BEACH, CA - APRIL 16: Actor Alfonso Ribeiro with daughter Sienna and wife Angela at the 42nd Toyota Pro/Celebrity Race - Race Day to Benefit 'Racing For Kids' held on April 15, 2016 in Long Beach, California. (Photo by Albert L. Ortega/Getty Images)
AMERICA'S FUNNIEST VIDEOS -'Episode 2622' - On the season finale of 'America's Funniest Home Videos,' the season's two $100,000 winners battle it out for the grand prize. Special guests Mickey Mouse, Minnie Mouse, Goofy and Donald Duck join Alfonso as he announces the grand prize winner who will receive an unforgettable vacation for six to the Walt Disney World(r) Resort in Florida and the new Shanghai Disney(r) Resort in China opening in June. Former 'AFV' host Tom Bergeron returns to play 'Who Breaks It?' with Alfonso, on the Season Finale of 'America's Funniest Home Videos,' SUNDAY, MAY 22 (7:00-8:00 p.m. EDT), on the ABC Television Network. (Paul Hiffmeyer/ABC via Getty Images) ALFONSO RIBEIRO, MICKEY MOUSE
PEBBLE BEACH, CA - FEBRUARY 11: Alfonso Ribeiro plays his tee shot on the 18th hole during the first round of the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am at the Spyglass Hill Golf Course on February 11, 2016 in Pebble Beach, California. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 27: Alfonso Ribeiro and Angela Unkrich attend the Ebony Magazine And Apple Celebrate Black Hollywood party at NeueHouse Hollywood on February 27, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by J. Countess/Getty Images)
THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF DISNEY: DISNEYLAND 60 - Walt Disney, one of the ultimate dreamers, used his uninhibited imagination and determination to create what became the springboard for all of the Walt Disney Company's spirited and wildly successful creativity that followed - his crowning achievement: Disneyland. ABC will celebrate the inventiveness and inspiration of Disney's big, bold creation with a glamorous, star-studded Diamond Anniversary event, both in the heart of Hollywood at the Dolby Theater and throughout some of the most iconic locations at Disneyland Park, including Sleeping Beauty Castle and Main Street U.S.A., and Cars Land, a themed area of Disney California Adventure Park. The special will also showcase two dazzling displays of technology - the 'Paint the Night' Parade and 'World of Color-Celebrate! The Wonderful World of Walt Disney' in Disney California Adventure Park, along with many more, on 'The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60,' SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 21 (8:00-10:00 p.m. EST), on the ABC Television Network. (Photo by Richard Harbaugh/ABC via Getty Images) WITNEY CARSON, ALFONSO RIBEIRO
PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 09: Alfonso Ribeiro arrives at the Disney/ABC 2016 Winter TCA Tour at the Langham Hotel on January 9, 2016 in Pasadena, California. (Photo by Jerod Harris/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - JANUARY 03: Alfonso Ribeiro (R) and Angela Unkrich attend a basketball game between the Phoenix Suns and the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on January 3, 2016 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Noel Vasquez/GC Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 05: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Actor Alfonso Ribeiro, Anders Ribeiro, Alfonso Ribeiro Jr and Angela Unkrich attend 2015 Santa's Secret Workshop Benefiting L.A. Family Housing at Andaz Hotel on December 5, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Tiffany Rose/Getty Images for Santa's Secret Workshop 2015)
HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 03: Actor Alfonso Ribeiro (L) and his Wife Angela Unkrich (R) attend the The Actors Fund's 2015 Looking Ahead Awards at Taglyan Cultural Complex on December 3, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Paul Archuleta/Getty Images)
WESTWOOD, CA - NOVEMBER 23: Actor Alfonso Ribeiro and wife Angela Unkrich attend a screening of 'Concussion' at Regency Village Theatre on November 23, 2015 in Westwood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 09: Alfonso Ribeiro attends AOL Build Presents: 'America's Funniest Home Videos' at AOL Studios In New York on October 9, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - OCTOBER 08: Actor Alfonso Ribeiro leaves the Sirius XM Studios on October 8, 2015 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/GC Images)
DANCING WITH THE STARS - Episode 2104 - Each celebrity set out to leave a lasting impression with their dances as they commemorated their most memorable year on 'Dancing with the Stars' LIVE on MONDAY, OCTOBER 5 (8:00-10:01 p.m., ET) on the ABC Television Network. Each couple danced to a song of the celebrity's choosing that encompassed a memorable time, or truly incredible experience in their life. These heartfelt performances showcased some of the most exciting choreography and emotionally powerful routines of the season yet. At the end of evening, one couple was eliminated from the ballroom competition. (Photo by Adam Taylor/ABC via Getty Images) ALFONSO RIBEIRO, PAULA DEEN, LOUIS VAN AMSTEL

Let's talk about the season of "Dancing With the Stars" that just started: As a past winner, you must have a pretty good handle on who had a good chance to win. Who are your early favorites?

Looking at the dancers themselves, I think that Laurie Hernandez is the overwhelming favorite to win the season. I just think that her work ethic, her ability to have control of her body and be able to pick up choreography will all be advantages. I also think that being sixteen allows for some of the other competitors to be a little bit closer than they might normally be. Being young it's harder to understand that there's a lot more to it than just on that dance floor - there's a whole other side of "Dancing With the Stars" that you have to understand.

I think that James Hinchcliffe did a really great job the other night -- I was really surprised by him as an Indy Car driver. Marilu Henner is also going to be awesome, and obviously having Derek as a partner does help. He's an amazing choreographer and knows how to tailor things for different people. The problem that Marilu is going to have is that she actually has one of those memories that she forgets nothing. Literally. She remembers everything she's ever seen in her life, and she can recall it in a moment.

The problem is that the way Derek choreographs means that he will switch up and change routines a little bit as they're working on them, so that it gets better throughout the week. The problem is that she remembers every single step the first way she learned it and now has to figure out how to remember the new steps, and I learned that that's a problem for them. But Marilu is a dancer, so she'll be great. You just hope that she has stamina it takes to finish a season, as I -- being 42 at the time [I competed] -- even experienced, almost not making it to the end of the season. Your body just starts to break down.

This campaign with Frosted Flakes is all about "letting your great out." How do you do that in your everyday life?

How do I let my great out? Well, I try to inspire -- especially my 13-year-old to let her great out. I feel like I'm letting my great out almost all the time. I'm lucky enough to have been in this business for 36+ years, so whether it's coming out here [to New York City] at 12 years old to be on Broadway, doing the Michael Jackson Pepsi commercial back in '84 or "Silver Spoons" and "Fresh Prince" and now, we're having such a great time doing "America's Funniest Home Videos," that I constantly feel like I'm having a great time letting my great out. I like to enjoy every moment and allow people to show their comedy and have fun. I'm constantly letting my great out.

Is it harder to do that on screen or off screen?

I don't know if there's necessarily a hard place to let your great out. On camera, there's a lot more to it. Obviously, there are writers and producers and scripts and concepts that you have to fit into. In real life, it's just competition. I used to race cars for a while and, when I'm racing, I want to be the best in the car -- and that's true for life in general, that you want to be the best you can be. I play a lot of golf and, as a zero-handicap, it means that you have to go out there and try to shoot par every time. It has nothing to do with anybody else -- it's about how you perform that day. I love those moments most, because it really is just about me and doing the best that I can do in any given circumstance. But I feel like it's important to have the balance -- balancing it in your career and in your real life.

Are there any other important lessons that you want to teach your kids as they continue to grow older?

For me, the most important lesson is no matter what you're doing, you have to work hard at it and try to be the best, but you also have to find the fun in it. There are a lot of dads and parents who put that kind of pressure on their kids to be excellent without allowing them to find the fun in it. You have to enjoy it, and if you are enjoying it you will definitely be better at it. You'll be inspired to continue to do it, and you'll maybe even inspire others to do it. So that, to me, is the most important lesson that I try to work on with my kids.

You've got to give it your all, though, too. I get in trouble for this a lot, but I've always said, "Second place is the first loser." No matter what you're doing, you're working to get first place and, yes, you might end up being the loser, but the reason why I have that theory in my life is because if you're an actor, one person gets the job. It doesn't matter if you were the second best; you didn't get the job.

So, I work from this perfectionist standpoint, but at the same time I love what I do. So, even when I'm second place, I've had fun giving it my all. I really push people to say, "I'm really going to work as hard as I can and do everything that I can do." On any day, someone can be better than you, but as long as you felt good and gave it your all, that's really all that matters. But you really have to go to win.

Your second season as the host of "America's Funniest Home Videos" just got started. How has your experience on this legendary show been different than what you expected it to be like?

Well, the first season was a little different from, obviously, what we're doing now. You know, the writers were still kind of writing for Tom [Bergeron], but I feel like this season is really going to be a major step up in what we're doing. We're all in sync together and figuring out what we're doing. The videos are better, my tone is better, the voiceover is better -- we've made some great changes to the show. It's all going to help us step up the game just a little bit. If there was something that I needed to figure out, it was how to be a big personality but still talk to that one person through the lens sitting on their couch and not put on a show or play just to the audience.

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