By Terry Kelleher
Updated September 15, 2003 12:00 PM

For the past month American Idol has been trolling the country—Pasadena, Houston, Atlanta and New York—seeking a new crop of contestants for the show’s third installment, which premieres in January. Last stop: Honolulu on Sept. 30. Want to make the cut? Some tips from people in the know:

•Be prepared. “Bring caps! And bring water. It’s going to get very hot out there. You know, I worry for them.” —Nigel Lythgoe, an Idol producer

•Check out the competition. “You’re nervous. Then you hear someone who’s not so good and you feel better.” —Juanita Mankuleiyo, who auditioned in Pasadena

•Know your priorities. “I decided to stay up [all night] because if I went to sleep, I’d wake up with my voice out. I also didn’t want to mess my hair up.” —Tom Cromer, who tried out in N. Y.C.

•Be social. “Don’t just sit there alone, because you’ll get tired real quick.” —Joe Negron, a New York wannabe

•And finally, choose an approach. To make it, “you either have to be extremely good or extremely bad.” —Corey Clark, a former finalist