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Donalds in waiting

University of Tampa graduates look to wow the talent scouts from Trump's hit reality TV show, The Apprentice.

Published March 24, 2006

[Times photos: Melissa Lyttle]
Lianna Dawn Riece, 25, Marta Wrzesniewski, 27, and Jamal Pope, 22, (clockwise from lower left) watch and wait for their turn in the hot seat as the next candidate is called for a brief interview during a casting call at the University of Tampa for Donald Trump's show The Apprentice.

During the interview process at a casting call for The Apprentice, UT grad Patton Gibson III was told that his tie was "very Donald Trump."

Former University of Tampa basketball player Larry Wade talks about believing in himself, when asked why he'd be a good as The Apprentice, during a casting call Thursday at the University of Tampa.

Will the Donald add a Gasparilla krewe, filled with Apprentice rejects?

TAMPA - He has gone by "Patton" since birth. And like the famous general, Charles Patton Gibson III attacks with ferocious abandon.

"I've had a longstanding belief that anyone who participates in reality TV should be dragged out and shot," Gibson, 31, told interviewers Thursday afternoon.

They were interviewing him for a reality TV show.

He was one of close to 50 University of Tampa graduates vying for a spot on NBC's hit show The Apprentice. The wannabe Donald Trump proteges filled a room at the school's Vaughn Center and made their pitches.

Gibson specified that The Apprentice was the show that made him hate reality TV contestants, then smiled wide at the interviewers, two bright, attractive young women.

They laughed at his audacity, but not with contempt.

"You're blushing," the tall, well-groomed applicant told casting director Kara Udell, adding a flirty raise of his eyebrows.

"You come in and tell us you hate our show," Udell said. "Reverse psychology."

Gibson's reply: "That's what I majored in."

Udell and associate Caitlin Moore were so quick with rejoinders, one half expected them to ask Gibson when UT first offered a degree in reverse psychology.

But the pair, who work for Mark Burnett Productions, had to save some energy for the rest of the candidates. Long before the Donald gets involved, Udell and Moore have the task of thinning the herd.

Candidates were told that if producers decided they were interested, they'd receive a call in a few days.

Applicants were asked to share their most embarrassing moments, and many responses were lame. One exception came from an insurance industry risk manager - we won't embarrass her further by naming her - who suffered a "wardrobe malfunction" while giving a presentation.

She didn't notice the exposure until she had finished speaking.

"Well, the insurance industry is mostly men," she explained. "They weren't going to tell me."

Former Spartan basketball player Larry Wade was all business. The interviews were scheduled to start at 3 p.m. He arrived at 10:30 a.m.

"I feel like I kind of represent what the American dream is all about," Wade said. "I was the first person in my family to graduate college."

Wade, 23, also said he felt like he could be "the LeBron James of the business world," referring to the NBA star who, quite famously, didn't go to college.

Applicants ranged from as young as Wade to 50-somethings such as Michael Lindquist, a project management professor for the University of Phoenix.

"I'm kind of reinventing myself," Lindquist said. "The doctors tell us we're going to live until we're 100. I'm a little over halfway there, so I figure I have time for a second career."

"That's very Madonna-esque," replied Kara.

Lindquist laughed: "I'm not sure I've ever been compared to her."

Rick Gershman can be reached at or 813 226-3431. His blog, The Ill Literate, is at

[Last modified March 24, 2006, 02:15:43]

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