- Associated Press - Friday, January 27, 2012

KIEV, UKRAINE (AP) - He is a descendant of Russia’s last czar _ and has lived in the jungle, starred in Bollywood movies and trained as a stuntman.

Now Scottish photographer Francis Mathew is in a new adventure: finding a bride on a reality TV show in Ukraine.

Mathew, the great-great-nephew of Nicholas II, is the star of the second season of Ukraine’s version of the popular U.S. show “The Bachelor” _ in which an unmarried man picks a fiancee through a series of dates and romantic getaways.

“I’ve been very lucky in life, but very unlucky in love,” the 33-year-old, who comes across as a romantic behind bad-boy looks, told The Associated Press in an interview.

“I am actually ready for a proper relationship, I have been for a couple of years,” he said. “I am pretty fussy when it comes to choosing a longterm girlfriend, it’s very difficult to find someone to be compatible with.”

As many as 16,000 young women from across Ukraine and beyond auditioned to compete for the heart of “a prince” _ as Mathew is billed by the show’s producers, even though he has no royal title.

Twenty-five contestants were selected for the show, also called “The Bachelor” in Ukrainian, and some have gotten into shouting matches and even fights over who gets to spend more time with him, according to the STB Channel, which is set to air the show in March.

The 12 episodes, which are currently being filmed in Ukraine, Finland, Sri Lanka and elsewhere, entail romantic dinners, a helicopter ride and Mathew taking on a 350-kilogram (750-pound) bull as a matador. Mathew speaks little Ukrainian or Russian, so both he and the contestants wear earpieces and rely on simultaneous translation. He hopes the project will help him reconnect with his Slavic roots.

Matthew admits that the show, in which he eliminates women one by one based on their date performance until he proposes to one of the two finalists, may be provocative.

“Honestly, the concept is crazy, absolutely crazy,” Mathew said. “You have to be of a certain mindset to enter a contest like that, I think it takes courage.”

But he says he has met attractive and interesting women on the show and hopes to fall in love.

“Love works in very mysterious ways,” Mathew said. “It does come from the most random places sometimes, the most unexpected places, so why not TV?”

The odds of finding true love, however, appear to be against Mathew. His predecessor on the show, a Ukrainian-American ballroom dancer, split with his newfound fiancee shortly after it ended last summer. Only one of the 15 seasons of “The Bachelor” in the U.S. resulted in marriage.

Mathew is the son of Princess Olga Andreevna Romanov, 61, whose father, Prince Andrei Alexandrovich, was the nephew of Nicholas II, Russia’s last czar. Nicholas II was assassinated by the Bolsheviks shortly after the 1917 Revolution together with his wife and children. Mathew’s grandfather was able to escape and settled in Britain.

Born in London and raised in Scotland, Mathew decided against going to university and chose to become a stuntman instead. He spent more than five years studying martial arts and other sports, while working in landscape gardening to pay for his living.

Story Continues →