Volume 16 • Issue 43 | March 26 - April 1, 2004

Trump’s fans wait for fame

By Janel Bladow

Photo by Eric Liebowitz, courtesy of NBC

Lines to audition for “The Apprentice 2” stretched for blocks away from Donald Trump’s building at 40 Wall St.

The canyons of Wall St. were alive not with the sounds of roaring bulls or growling bears but with thousands of corporate wannabes anxious for the chance to face The Donald in the next season of his hit series, “The Apprentice.”

More than 2,000 people queued up along Platt St. two blocks west to Broadway and the line continued to snake around south past Wall St. The open casting call for Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice 2” on NBC drew fans from throughout the tri-state area and as far away as Montreal. There were students, professionals, business owners, dreamers and TV fanatics.

They started lining up nearly 24 hours before the doors opened at 9 a.m. Thursday, March 18. They spent the night on the street in the freezing snow, sleet and rain. It’s the stuff dreams are made of.

Holding down the coveted number one spot and sporting a medical-looking plastic bracelet number 0001 was a disheveled Greg, who arrived from his home in Brooklyn about 11 the morning before to set up camp.

“I’m number one, I’m number one,” he chanted to the press who circled around like flies on the scent of a good feast. Greg had no qualms soaking up his 15 minutes of fame as he explained why he wanted to be on the show and why he should be picked as a contestant.

“I’m aggressive, I’m anxious, I’m determined,” he ticked off as he pulled his bright blue stocking cap down over his ears, tugged nervously at frayed brown belt holding up his gray pants and unzipped his wrinkly NY Met’s blue parka. “I’ve met Donald Trump before. I’ve gone to his birthday party and his book signing,” and the more he talked about the times he’s seen the real estate billionaire, the more he sounded like a stalker to those around him.

Numbers 0002 and 0003, a couple of nice-looking young guys from Uptown, later let it be known that they were actually there before Greg but felt sorry for him and gave him their first place. “He has to have something to remember. There’s no way he’s going to make the cut,” one said.

People clutching their paper cups of coffee and racing to jobs near the Stock Exchange just shook their heads in disbelief at the TV turnout. Others cut work and lined up. One guy even had two assistants stand in line for him overnight then arrived all scrubbed and fresh just before the doors opened.

Those around Long Islander Nick Voulgaris felt he should make the cut just for his inventiveness. He fibbed his way into a members-only hotel around the corner then shared the room the next morning with the people in line who held his space while he slept so they could freshen up too.

Interviews were held in the lobby at The Trump Building at 40 Wall St., one of the real estate billionaire’s skyscrapers. Four large tables covered with a white cloth were set along the far wall. One of the show’s casting agents sat facing an arc of 12 hopefuls with their applications fanned in front and quizzed them on management, team playing, office politics and sex roles in business.

“They asked us if it’s okay for women to use their bodies to get ahead in business,” said an AT&T manager named Denise who took the morning off work to tryout.

Carin DeCicco of Upper Montclair, N.J., was picked by four of her tablemates as a potential team leader and was convinced she would make the cut. “I know business, I know television, I know how to play the game,” she said.

Trump’s co-stars and long-time employees George Ross and Carolyn Kepcher tried to circulate but were surrounded by TV crews, reporters and photographers.

But Trump’s entrance was red-carpet worthy. Trump came up the Wall St. escalator with bodyguards and his own personal TV crew and greeted the press. He worked the room, posing for photographs and giving sound-bites.

“Nothing will change, the show’s a success,” he said. “I don’t believe in changing something that works just for changing it. We might do more behind the scenes.

“We’re looking for born leaders, people with drive, determination.

“Omarosa is Omarosa,” Trump said of the first season’s contestant everyone loved to hate. “I don’t know who wins.”

“I have a hard time saying it,” when asked to repeat the phrase that’s become a part of the pop culture vocabulary.

But the crowd still outside at 3 p.m. had no problem. “You’re fired,” they chanted, then broke into a chorus of the show’s theme song “Money, Money, Money, Money.”


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