What's the O.C.? For Fox, it's their biggest hit of the new season. For fans of The Learning Channel's Trading Spaces, it's Ty Pennington — the Original Carpenter. A former J.Crew model whose beauty rivals any creation of designer Vern Yip's, Pennington is the prototype for all the cute cable carpenters that followed. But Pennington's more than just a pretty face — he's a full-on character whose good-humored goofiness is just the right tonic on the show's sometimes tense set. And as the home-show hottie proved during a recent interview with TV Guide Online, even when he's off camera, he's on.

TV Guide Online: You just had a birthday [on Oct. 16]. You're 38 now?
Ty Pennington:
Yeah. I'm an old soul. I can feel the cobwebs. I'm a decrepit soul, that's what I am.

TVGO: But you act much younger. Much, much younger.
Pennington:
I like to push buttons, trust me. I'm the youngest of two, and I've spent most of my life trying to get attention by annoying the hell out of people. I'm good at it!

TVGO: How many shows have you done now?
Pennington:
We started just after B.C. Seriously, we've done the show for three years and I've done half the shows, so probably like 120, 130.

TVGO: Are you getting sick of it? Or does it still feel new?
Pennington:
The beauty of me is that I can take anything and make it fresh and new. Even an old milk jug. I can pour out the nasty old curdled milk and make something fun and new out of it. You might see that in my new book, Ty's Tricks.

TVGO: Do carpenters on other shows ask you for career advice?
Pennington:
I haven't met Andrew Dan-Jumbo, but I feel for him. He looks like he's going through all the nightmare hassles that I went through when [I was] doing it all [myself]. I don't know if he has an assistant, but he looks like he needs one.

TVGO: Are you proud to have started the trend of hunky carpenters on TV?
Pennington:
I'm nothing really that special. I've got the luckiest job in the world. To any of those guys coming on board, I just say, "You're lucky, too." This is a great gig. If they're Ty clones, so be it. But I don't think they're clones. I don't think that's a good idea, actually. Not unless you've got a lot of Ritalin on hand.