"American Idol trained me to be the kind of musician I want to be and trained me how the whole music business works," Malakar told reporters during a Wednesday conference call.
"With this, you have a lot of time to get introspective and really think about your life and what you're doing wrong and what you're doing right -- just analyze everything to the point where when you come out of the jungle you're able to be a different person and see your life in a different way and value things that you took for granted."
The 19-year-old former Idol finalist explained that since he entered the jungle at the "beginning" of his career, he feels he was able to learn more than the other celebrities he was marooned with.
"They're kind of here like, 'I've been successful. I know what I'm doing,'" he told reporters. "I'm coming in as, 'Okay, I had a successful run on a very powerful show and I've been working hard, but I still have a long way to go."
Malakar had his ups and downs in the Costa Rican jungle, however he said "the hardest part" of his I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! experience was his inability to sing (a liability some critics would snarkly suggest he also faced during his time on American Idol).
"I was told that I absolutely could not sing anything because anytime I sang they couldn't use a lot of the footage," he explained. "So my entire energy fell because singing is my outlet."
Since his "energetic flow" was in a funk, Malakar said he had to adjust.
"I had to kind of find ways to do it quietly," he said about singing. "I felt like it was a drug and I was trying to hide it from everyone... I was definitely affected by it, but I found ways to get around it."
Malakar said his spirits were uplifted by the introduction of The Hills star Holly Montag several days into the competition.
"I definitely think that Holly being close to my age made it a lot easier for me to be comfortable and value the last year of [being a] teenager," he explained.
"For me, I was using this as a way to mature and come into my manhood. At certain points I forgot that I am still a teenager -- I need to be able to get out the youthful energy that I still have before I try to mature myself to fast. Holly definitely helped me to capture that and stay true to that."
In addition, Malakar said he doesn't doubt the strength of his relationship with Montag now that both are off the show.
"I know for a fact that our friendship is incredibly strong. I look forward to continuing our friendship and continuing to get to know her outside of the camp," he explained, adding he already knows her "really well" from their time together in the jungle.
"But it's a different situation when you're getting to know someone in their comfort zone, their environment."
Malakar added the two plan to re-ignite their friendship soon by taking a vacation together.
"We're planning on going on vacation to Hawaii or something -- some jungle outside of the camp where we can have luxuries," he told reporters. "I think that'll be our first official friend vacation."
However after he was pressed by reporters about the reality of a Hawaiian vacation with Montag, Malakar backed off and said it was "just an idea."
"I don't even know if it's going to happen. It would be fun," he said.
While in the jungle, Malakar said there were "lots of songs in my head" and he plans to put them on paper as he continues his music career.
"I'm definitely still focusing on music," he said. "I'm actually going to move from New York to Seattle for a little bit, I'm planning on putting together a kind of independent artist band. I'm trying to find some artists from Seattle that are really in it for the music of it all and not the drama of celebrity. When you find those people, that's when you get the best music out of it."
"I'm staying on the same path as far as music is concerned and I'm going to continue to work on music and record and get my CD out there," he said. "But I'm really kind of focusing on making sure what I do put out is very much myself, very much that kind of independent music that I wanted to do from the beginning."
(Photo credit NBC)
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