But can I succeed? Will the Guru of the Green yell: "You're fired!"? Stay tuned.
5 a.m. The alarm rings. I wake up, shower, cut myself shaving, put on my olive-green suit and stumble outside. Snow sprinkles from above. I wave for a cab and, in my best Raj voice, command: "Driver, take me to the Trump building!"
6 a.m. Hundreds gather out back. The first guy in line, Sean Grant, 31, an options trader, arrived at 4 p.m. yesterday. "I want to be No. 1," he tells me. "Waiting 17 hours for the chance of a lifetime isn't such a bad thing." It isn't? Well, he concedes, there were a few downsides--like the wind and the hail and the cold. "I lost complete feeling in my feet." One last question: Will he let me cut?
6:45 a.m. From where I stand--and shiver--at the end of the line, there are only 164 people ahead of me. I bond with Darlene Mays, 45, a stay-at-home mom who's auditioning for "The Apprentice: Martha Stewart." "I make draperies, ottomans, paintings on glass," she tells me, from under her shawl. "I can fold napkins like origami."
7 a.m. I think back to last night, when I stayed up until 2 a.m. working on my "Apprentice" application. First, they asked all these tough questions, like what's my e-mail address and salary. They must really be trying to weed out the losers--and only get people with serious business skills, like literacy. Then, they asked: "What is your most impressive work or school achievement?" Except the word "achievement" was misspelled as "achievment." So I just circled it, wrote "sp" and moved on. Finally, came the hardest question: "Why do you believe you could ultimately be 'The Apprentice'." I put on my thinking cap--actually, I put on Kwame's. I wrote: "I'm smart, motivated and talented. I never fail. And I do not intend to fail Mr. Trump--no way!"
7:30 a.m. Like Sean at the front of the line, I've lost all feeling in my feet. The mush that falls from the sky (is it rain? Snow? Richard Branson's sleet machine to get revenge on us all?) drenches my hair. Darlene goes all Martha on me and points out I shouldn't wrap my scarf around my neck because wool absorbs water.
8:15 a.m. There's nothing to do other than shiver. So I try to remember the plan my colleague Anne came up with over lunch at Whole Foods last week. We decided that I needed a healthy supply of sound bites--generic lines that would impress the Trumpster. There was my favorite: "Mr. Trump is the greatest leader in the world." And Anne's favorite: "I'm here to win." And both our favorite's, which we stole from Sam in season one: "If you pull one over me, I'm going to 10-times you." (Incidentally, on another recent Whole Foods expedition we spotted John from season two and Ereka from season one there together. Yuck! "Apprentice" incest).
10:17 a.m. Donald Trump saunters over. Say what? When I came up to the audition, I never imagined Trump would actually show up. I mean, doesn't he have to tend to his real-estate holdings, his money, his new trophy wife? "Look at all the beautiful people," says His Hairness, with a wave. Back in the day, I tried out for "Teen Jeopardy!" and Alex Trebek was nowhere to be found.
10:45 a.m. Inside is a three-ring circus that Barnum and Bailey couldn't match. There's a table selling Trump dolls, Trump mugs, Trump water, Trump buttons. The man himself is standing on stage, posing for photos. Every few minutes, he walks down into the crowd--where people cheer and trample one another for an autograph. Plus, Trump's little henchmen, Bill and Kelly, work the crowd too. They both look exactly as they do on TV, except Bill's apparently been plucking his eyebrows.
11 a.m. Darlene gets in the Martha line--and a casting munchkin asks me if I want to join her. You see, no one's really auditioning for Martha Stewart, because we're all so confused about what skills are necessary. Do we need to knit, cook and arrange flowers? Or organize events, run a magazine and make shady stock deals?
11:30 a.m. In the Donald line, I meet a new cluster of people--about a dozen of us are going to audition together at the boardroom on stage. Oddly enough, almost none of them have any business experience, so I guess the application's tricky questions weren't a deterrent. There's a 22-year-old guy wearing an Armani Express headband, who mumbles a lot and says he's working on his degree (M.B.A.? GED? VCR repair? Your guess is as good as mine). There's an elderly doctor. A man with a European accent--couldn't make out his name. Sounded like Jello. There's a New Jersey mom. And then there's Michelle, who develops film at a pharmacy.
11:32 a.m. "I sing for old people in my building because they're really bored," Michelle tells me. And in her spare time Michelle is apparently a serial reality-show applicant. "I tried out for 'American Idol.' I asked Simon, 'What are you looking for that I don't have?' And he said, 'Someone who can sing in tune'." Uh-huh. "I was class clown in high school." No kidding. "I was so nervous when I met Donald Trump. I wanted to say, 'Congratulations on your marriage.' And I wasn't sure if I should say 'your marriage' or 'your new marriage'." Tough one. "Are you going to write a book about me?"
Noon. Finally. We enter the inner sanctum of The Boardroom. I take the prime seat next to Casting Man, who will bark questions at us over the next 20 minutes or so, looking as bored as I was when I saw "The Aviator." Then, Kelly comes over and sits between us--because, apparently, his job is to be Casting Man's wingman. I suppress any comments that enter my mind about his fake tan.
Question 1: Why do you want to work for Donald Trump?
As Casting Man asks us the question, the Trumpster tiptoes over to our boardroom table. Oh, the pressure! I have to say the most perfect thing ever! My mind goes: "Blank, blank, blankity, blank." And, then I remember Whole Foods. "I want to work for Donald Trump because he is the greatest leader in the world," I stammer. The Guru of the Green smiles, big time. "He's good," he says, points to me and winks. The other people at my table, especially the Elderly Doctor, look very jealous. Except for Armani Headband. I'm not sure if he's awake.
Question 2: I'm going to throw out a topic. I want you to convince each other of your opinions. The topic I want to bring up: If a female is applying for a job, should she disclose that she is thinking of having children?
"Absolutely not," says New Jersey Mom. Everyone agrees. Jello talks and talks, but no one understands what he's saying. Consensus is boring, so I pipe up: "I don't agree at all. Women are biologically different than men."
There's yelling. Lots of it! The Elderly Doctor tries to calm us down by asking that we raise our hands. But I interrupt as frequently as possible. New Jersey Mom almost has a coronary. "I have four children!" she says. "It only takes 20 minutes to deliver."
When I have nothing to say, I say: "You're fired! You're fired! You're all fired."
Question 3: We're going to go around the table and you're going to say who you think the best project manager would be. You can't pick yourself.
I pick myself.
Question 4: Who at this table would you fire?
The Elderly Doctor, for that stupid suggestion about the hands. But, oddly, everyone else wants to fire me.