A website called Beautifulpeople.com has created a mentoring program cheekily called "Adopt an Ugly Person."
"We've democratized beauty," said Greg Hodge, overlooking the Pacific Ocean on a stunning day at the Surf & Sand Resort in Laguna Beach.
Hodge is a former nightclub owner from London who is now managing director for BeautifulPeople.com, a website he took global five years ago. To become a member of the site, applicants must submit a photo and profile and be voted beautiful enough by a majority of members from the opposite sex. "Otherwise, you're shown the door," Hodge said.
The site now claims over 750,000 members around the world who pay monthly subscriptions that average around $15-$16. Most members stay for about three months, and Hodge said overall revenue continues to grow.
However, 9 out of 10 applicants to BeautifulPeople.com are rejected. "This hurts me ... I see dollar signs just walking out the door," Hodge said. "It's a tough business model, because most of the people that knock on the door don't get in."
So now he's created a mentoring program cheekily called "Adopt an Ugly Person." In the new program, BeautifulPeople members ranging from stylists to therapists volunteer to coach applicants on how to be more, well, beautiful. "We're two days in, and we've had over 600 people apply," he said.
Mentoring is currently free, but Hodge envisions monetizing it. Perhaps mentors will eventually charge for their services, and the website will take a cut. He's also expanding the brand by hosting special Beautiful People events, where production companies, modeling agencies, and casting directors come looking for talent.
One of the new mentors is 22-year-old model Joslyn Stabile. She became a member of BeautifulPeople.com after moving to Los Angeles from Connecticut. "I just feel like I started off out here very insecure in LA," she said. "I mean you walk out your door and there's supermodels walking down the street," she said. "I'm not used to that, and so I was definitely intimidated."
She joined the website and has since dated two men there. Beautiful People-hosted events have also gotten her leads on acting and modeling jobs.
Stabile decided to become a mentor and has two potential clients. "We're going through the application process to see if we're a good match," she said.
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She came to the CNBC studio in LA to mentor yours truly (even though I'm, like, married), so I also dragged in CNBC producer Harriet Taylor, who happens to be single. Stabile's advice covered hair and makeup, and how to pose for a photo-"Stay away from the duck face."
She also said that people who are selected to join BeautifulPeople.com have to provide a follow up picture holding up a card with the date written on it to prove they really look like the picture. Harriet Taylor did just that after our mentoring session.
Hodge said beauty on BeautifulPeople needs to be more than skin deep. Safety is the site's biggest priority, and members who behave with "less than beautiful behavior" will be "thrown off the beautiful island." His advice for applicants? Men need pictures that show "a good lifestyle shot." For women, "It's all about the picture. Men won't even read the profile text, men are dogs, they're just going to look at the picture."
Far from being defensive about accusations that this may be the most shallow dating concept in the history of the Internet, Stabile and Hodge both embrace the concept. "It's physical attraction, it's human," Stabile said. "When I look good, I feel good ... why wouldn't I want to be on a site with people just like that?"
"If the online dating market was a nightclub, Beautiful People would be the VIP room," Hodge said. "It's Darwinism, it's millions of years of evolution. It might not be politically correct to say so, but it's certainly very honest."
-By CNBC's Jane Wells