"We don't have any fighting whatsoever. A normal reality show in the U.S. or anyplace in the world, they look for conflict. We do the opposite," Eng said. "We're about the Swedish American who is discovering his or her roots. That is why we are looking for people around Fargo. A lot of Swedes came there when they immigrated back in the days. "
One Fargo resident actually made it last year to the second round of interviews, which are held with about 40 to 50 people each year in New York or Los Angeles. Kevin Zavoral, 34, who works for a Finland-based technology company in Fargo, was told he made the top 20 but not the final cut.
"I just applied for it on a whim," Zavoral said. "I didn't expect to hear back."
Zavoral said he was interviewed in New York by two recruiters and the main producer. They asked him, among other things, why he should be selected for the show and how he celebrates his Swedish heritage. He said they spoke Swedish to each other during the meeting.
"I just assumed they were saying great things about me," he said, laughing.
Zavoral applied again this year but has yet to find out whether he's still in the running.
Nels Backman, 61, of Fargo, whose great-grandparents emigrated from Sweden and settled north of Bismarck, said he was asked to try out for the show but wasn't eligible because he has been to the motherland five times.
"I know the show is very well-received over there," Backman said. "They've always had an affinity for the United States."