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With hundreds of hopefuls lined up outside New York's Trump Tower to audition for season five of NBC's "The Apprentice," Donald Trump sat in his office 26 floors above the street and revealed the name of a key cast member for this fall's season four: George Lucas.

The famed director will decide which team comes up with a better concept to sell the DVD release of "Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith." Contestants will also introduce a new Microsoft video-conferencing product, as well as devote their brain power to XM Satellite Radio and Lamborghini. Bally's Total Fitness is also believed to be a tie-in partner.

The howling wind and rain did not deter the well-coifed "Apprentice" applicants who lined up around the block on July 8 for a shot at becoming a TV star. Season five ups the ante for contestants and marketers alike. The cast will be handpicked for the first time by Mr. Trump, since he wasn't happy with the bunch he had to choose from last time. Mr. Trump told Advertising Age he's thrilled that the first two people in line were both from Harvard.


Marketers will have to brave another kind of element-brand-integration fees, which run from next-to-nothing to more than $3 million depending on whether the sponsor is a little known firm or a Fortune 500 company. "The Apprentice" has come a long way since the virtually brand-free first season, which aired in January 2004 and featured contestants selling lemonade.

Mr. Trump is equally jazzed about how the show has helped marketers sell their wares. "We are the only show that is successful in branding," he said, reeling off the number of Pontiac Solstice cars sold and the number of visits to the Crest Whitestrips Web site in the wake of their appearances on the show.

As a 50% owner with Mark Burnett in "The Apprentice: Martha," Mr. Trump has a strong financial interest in one of his rivals doing well. Though Martha Stewart's show has a less-competitive slot on Wednesdays than his Thursday night slot opposite CBS' "CSI," Mr. Trump thinks both shows will rate about equally well.

Marketers are split. Some won't go near Martha and are betting that Mr. Trump will continue to perform, while others think Martha will be huge. Getting details about brands in the Martha show, though, is harder than trying to identify a White House leak. Marketers must sign strict confidentiality agreements and agree not to talk about their involvement in either show until airdate. Mr. Trump will guest star in Ms. Stewart's spinoff version.

Mr. Trump's product-laden "Apprentice," was one of the most TiVo'd shows of last season. In true hyperbolic style, Mr. Trump claims it as the No. 1 most TiVo'd show-though only for a couple of weeks in the fall. TiVo said it was No. 2, behind "Desperate Housewives" for half a season until "American Idol" returned, pushing it to No. 3.

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