What’s an ex-Apprentice going to do with his time?

Well, if you’re Troy McClain, a contestant in the first season of the Apprentice, you alternate between flipping through a pile of movie scripts, emceeing Donald Trump’s birthday party, flying to China for the Miss World competition, and trying to figure out a way to stay true to your “core values.”

For an Idaho-based mortgage lender, that means getting back to the business of helping people finance their homes.

McClain spent the 12 years leading up to his shot on the show approving mortgage loans and refinances in Boise, Idaho. After the show, he went back home and tried to figure out how to translate the lessons he learned on the show into building his business.

“I had had regional success as a mortgage lender and broker before I went on the Apprentice. During the show, they touted me as a mortgage broker. After the show was over, I got calls from all over Americas to broker loans that were way beyond my capacity,” he recalls.

Doing $50 million commercial loans didn’t feel quite right. “I was a little scared by one caller who wanted me to do a $52 million loan,” he admitted in a recent interview.

But then McClain was approached by television producers who wanted him to host a new show that focused on helping first-time buyers purchase their piece of the American Dream.

As it was proposed, the show, “HomeTeam” seemed to be a good fit.

“It fit my core values,” explained McClain. “I want to be what I am. I want to be a lender and focused on first-time home buyers.”

It was a long time before McClain knew what being a first-time home buyer was about. Growing up, he and his single mother were evicted from seven homes before he was able to purchase a modest home of his own.

“I know how it feels to be with a house and without a house and that’s why I went into the lending business,” McClain said.

“HomeTeam” debuted last September. In each episode, a first-time buyer family is chosen from those nominated at the show’s website (www.hometeam.com). Friends and family are enlisted to help the show’s producers select the right house to purchase on behalf of the family, and then help to add the final touches that will make the house a home.

“We grant them the 10 percent down payment and then pay one year’s worth of mortgage payment. We also usually do some minor renovations to the house, perhaps spending up to $7,500 depending on what needs to be done,” McClain said. “We’re not giving people a hand out, but a leg up. We’re giving them the opportunity they always wanted — to own a home.

Thirteen episodes of the first season have already been shot. McClain and the HomeTeam producers are working on fulfilling the rest of the 26-episode season. The show has been picked up for a second season in many markets.

McClain said the show hopes to garner “thousands” of nominations on its website. And in the spirit of letting nothing go to waste, these nominations will become part of a vast lead generation business.

“If you go to HomeTeam’s website, we’re building a lead generation portal. At the end of the first year, we’ll shoot 26 episodes and help 26 families buy their first home. But, that said, we’ll have a couple thousand people apply for the slot who are looking for that opportunity. We can take those qualified leads and educate them and pass them onto a mortgage professional,” McClain explained.

Now that he’s playing a lender on television, what lessons from the Apprentice has McClain applied to his life?

“I’ve learned about brand exposure,” he said, adding “and I’ve learned about team effort. Surrounding yourself with a successful team accentuates your skill sets.”

And the best lesson of all?

McClain paused for a moment. “I’ve learned that anything is possible.”

Whether you’re trying to keep The Donald happy or close on your first home.

Check local listings for HomeTeam or log onto the show’s website, www.hometeam.com.

Published: Feb 21, 2006