Inside Scoop on the New Apprentice

apprenticeBefore the newest Celebrity Apprentice had been hired, Donald Trump, Mark Burnett and NBC decided they wanted to reach out beyond Hollywood, rock and sports glitterati and try to help the everyday people out there who have been hardest hit by the current economic downturn. So they concocted an extra season of the hit reality show The Apprentice, and sent out a call for the most likely candidates to fit nicely into Trump's world.

But this time things have changed. Trump is not favoring the hot young Ivy League lawyers and MBAs, as he has in the past, according to casting director Scott Salyers. "We're looking at people in their 20s, 30s, 40s. We have candidates up into their 80s," Salyers explains. "And we'll have a greater diversity of professions; there will be teachers, people who were working in middle management -- people from all walks of life."

After accepting video-recorded submissions and holding open casting calls in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta and Detroit, producers have thousands of candidates to chose from -- probably more than ever before. That's partially because the unemployed actually have time to stand in line to attend a casting call during the week, which has never before been the case, Saylers says.

Mr. Moms and more

"There were a lot of Mr. Mom types who came out to the auditions," he relates. They'd lost their jobs, their wives had gone to work, and they had the time to come while their children were in school."

Some of the candidates' stories are truly heart-rending, Salyers notes. Some sent in videos showing the nice home they had lived in, as well the tiny apartment they had to move into with their families after they lost their jobs and their homes. Some displayed their storage units. "Some even showed us that they were living in their cars. And these people didn't do anything wrong. They were just victims of the economy," he says.

"Many had to move back in with their parents," Salyers adds. "Some parents had to move in with their children. One hopeful contestant even showed us footage of going into a pawn shop and pawning her wedding ring so she could put food on the table. Another showed himself on the phone with a creditor, trying to work out his debt."

The secret to success

But it will take more than just a sad story to win an opportunity to vie for an apprenticeship and a six-figure salary in the Trump Empire. "It all boils down to finding someone who can work for Mr. Trump," says Salyers, adding that just because your house went into foreclosure, doesn't make you a good candidate. "They need to have leadership quality, and it doesn't hurt if they're fun to watch." This IS televised entertainment, after all.

Salyers notes that the bottom line is that Trump is a businessman, and is open to anyone who can help him make money. But this season, Salyers notes, Trump has spent much more time than he usually does watching auditions and listening to people's stories. When Trump says he's trying to get America back to work, Salyers truly believes it's not just hype.

An official air date has not been set yet, but this cycle of The Apprentice is expected to run sometime in fall 2010. Right now the casting staff and producers are narrowing down the thousands of applications to the top 100, and ultimately down to 14. Celebrity Apprentice is scheduled to reappear in 2011.


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