Aspiring apprentices, housewives and survivors, take note. Applying for a gig on reality television requires the same preparation and self-branding as any job interview. But you can be weirder. "Understand who you are as a character," says Doron Ofir, of Doron Ofir Casting. "Let them know that you’re an avid knitter, insane coupon shopper, or owner of 7,000 teapots."
The reality show application process usually begins with a written questionnaire (check the Web site of your favorite show). If you make the first cut, you may be asked to do a video or interview via Skype. The final screening is an in-person meeting—or several—with the network.
Spend time, not money, perfecting your reality-star persona. Too-slick applicants are a turnoff. But consider one or two small investments. A gym membership helps you look good and win physical challenges. And up-to-date video equipment polishes your audition tape (professional videos are verboten, but amateur film must be watchable).
Once you land on TV, you don't have to win every contest to cash in. There is money in speaking engagements, charity endorsements or peddling your own products. After filming, spend time polishing your online presence.