I’m often asked how I choose topics for columns.

Honestly, sometimes I’ll read something in a newspaper, magazine or online and it sparks an idea. Or, one of the many readers of ThinkGlink.com or my nationally-syndicated column will write me an email suggesting an idea. Or, in describing a situation or issue they are facing, I’ll realize that there’s a larger issue to be explored.

And sometimes public relations people will ping me with ideas for columns featuring clients that they represent.

The column I finished writing today (which will be available starting next week, since I tend to write about 10 days in advance) features Troy McClain. Donald Trump fanatics will remember Troy as one of the more popular, but unsuccessful Apprentice-seekers from the show’s first season.

In our conversation earlier this week, he told me that when he was in China, officiating at the Miss World Competition, the locals referred to him as “Cowboy Troy,” much to his chagrin, I expect.

We spoke for maybe 45 minutes, but I found Troy to be an interesting mix of knowledge and wide-eyed innocence. He was hawking his new-ish television show, “Home Team,” which is syndicated mostly on independent stations nationwide. He revealed that the show had just signed with WGN-TV in Chicago (full disclosure: I was a freelance consumer/money reporter for WGN-TV for 7 years) and would be airing twice weekly.

I think the funniest thing he shared is that he has 30 movie scripts piled up on his desk. Cowboy Troy the movie actor? Isn’t that a little too Brokeback Mountain?

Well, Troy shared that acting isn’t in his “core values” (a Trumpism if there ever was one) but he apparently feels perfectly comfortable playing a mortgage lender on TV.

Anyway, look for the story next week. For the first peek, sign up for my free weekly newsletter at www.thinkglink.com.

Feb. 16, 2006.