IT helps to be thin, young and hot-looking. Middle-age, plump and plain are not on the Top 10 list of attributes “The Apprentice” casting directors seek in a contestant. Brainpower comes into play, but only after you pass the physical appearance test. After all, this is TV, folks. On March 9, 2006, at 4 a.m., a blonde Trump Corp. wannabe named Farrah Evagues stole through the dark with her blanket, mittens and foldable lounge chair, staking out a first-in-line position at the Globe Theatre inside Los Angeles’ Universal Studios. Farrah was not the only rebel who pooh-poohed the rules on the NBC Web site that stated, “Arrive no earlier than 6 a.m.” Twenty other daredevils braved the biting, 45-degree air with Farrah until two or three hours later when the bulk of applicants arrived. All hoped to be chosen as contestants for “The Apprentice” and to meet Donald Trump in person. Los Angeles provided the backdrop for the first casting call ; the show would be recruiting candidates in 16 other cities, including Chicago, New York, Honolulu and Phoenix. I arrived at 6:45 with my resume, prepared to undertake two roles: as an applicant and undercover reporter. Why shiver when one can both shiver and also ask questions? I weaved through the long line of freezing people, inquiring about jobs, qualifications and reasons for wanting to work for “The Donald.” Few applicants wore winter coats, yet many were cloaked with paranoia. My questioning began: “What do you do for a living?” Most people were tight-lipped. “I’m not going to tell you. I might get disqualified,” said one. Another replied, “I have my answer, but I’m not going to tell you what it is.” A woman, whom I later learned was the former Miss Yugoslavia, gave me an impolite, cold stare. No words. Maybe she feared I’d steal her identity and blurt out, “Great idea. I’ll be the former Miss Yugoslavia, too.” The only seemingly honest answers I got were: “I’m a demolition derby manager.”DPP “I’m a professional reality-show contestant. I’ve tried out for The Apprentice’ three times.” “I’m a teacher.” In fact, three applicants told me they were teachers, including 58-year-old Lancaster resident Bill Newyear, who appeared to be the oldest in line. He told me how his generation makes up 25 percent of the population. “It makes good TV to have an older Everyman,” Bill said. “If I get selected, it would show Trump’s commitment to people like me, that we are not ready to go out to pasture yet.” As an employment recruiter, Orange County resident Diana London didn ‘t care if she was chosen. She was there to pick up clients from what she deemed an educated pool of candidates and to sneak a manila envelope to Trump, which revealed details about an invention she hoped would prove profitable for them both. I was finally permitted to enter the audition room, and noticed Jay Leno taping a “Jaywalking” segment for “The Tonight Show.” “Inside Edition,” TV Guide and other members of the press were positioning their cameras and microphones. Two representatives from the casting company interviewed the eight applicants at each table; there were five tables in the room. We were asked our age. The casting reps seemed displeased with my answer, 45, yet thrilled with the answer given by the 24-year-old to my left. No one looked at my resume. All attention was on the youngsters at the table. I felt like I had wandered into a casting call for an ingenue. I figured the Everyman curtain had fallen on the 58-year-old teacher from Lancaster and the other over-40s in the room. Trump randomly wandered from table to table, observing interviews. Periodically he would whisper to a casting rep, who then discreetly initialed a particular applicant’s paperwork. This surely meant the individual had cleared the first hurdle and would be asked to return for the second round. The show’s casting producer, Scott Salyers, says his primary job is to find someone who can run Trump’s business. On the other hand, the show survives from ratings, which arguably increase when the young and beautiful are cast. If viewers want to see an older Everyman, they could demand change with the click of the remote control. The morning was successful for some. Diana handed Trump her “invention” envelope, and the former Miss Yugoslavia received the all-important tiny initial on her application. Maybe we will see her next season. As I prepared to leave, I overheard Trump say, “I am looking for smart people. I am always looking for smart people.” He mentioned two applicants he had met that day with more than one academic degree. It was my chance to reveal something about my severely neglected resume. I held my head high, marched over to the billionaire and stated, “Mr. Trump, I have five degrees.” Without missing a beat, he countered, “You’re overqualified” a perplexing statement considering last season’s winner also had five degrees. I like Trump because he is down to earth with a keen business sense and a sane perspective of the world, but I have one question for him: Am I really overqualified? Or is it that I’m 45? Charlotte Laws is an author and a member of the Greater Valley Glen Council. Contact her via her Web site, www.CharlotteLaws.org. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORE‘Mame,’ ‘Hello, Dolly!’ composer Jerry Herman dies at 88160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!