Brody Jenner knows the look. It hijacks the face of his best friend, Spencer Pratt, whenever Pratt is scheming to “build the brand of Brody.” First comes the manic twitch of the jaw, then there’s the feral lip snarl, and finally the frosty eyes that lock in on you, lit up with visions of red carpets, autograph seekers, and bulimic blondes lounging poolside. What comes out of Pratt’s mouth next is bound to be the kind of unhinged logic that he specializes in as Jenner’s “manager-slash-publicist-slash-agent-slash-stylist.”

Pratt: “Do you trust me?”

Jenner: “Of course I trust you.”

Pratt: “All right, then here’s what you’re gonna do. You’re gonna start dating Nicole Richie. And you’re gonna get that skinny bitch to eat, all right? You are about to become The Guy Who Got Nicole Richie to Eat. Process that shit, bro. You’ll be, like, a fucking hero to America.”

I’m going to go out on a limb here and assume that you’ve never heard of Brody Jenner. Here are the relevant facts: He is 23. He is handsome (sparkly brown eyes, wavy brown hair, an impressive jaw) and reasonably charming. Like many other kids raised in Malibu, he has massive amounts of family money: His “ex-stepfather,” David Foster, is a music producer who has worked with artists like Whitney Houston. Jenner was once on a reality-TV show—2005’s The Princes of Malibu—which you’ve also probably never heard of, because Fox canceled it after two episodes. His father, Bruce Jenner, was an Olympic decathlete who won a gold medal in 1976—something of a Lance Armstrong in his day, but not exactly a reference point for today’s 18-to-28 demographic. A few years ago, Jenner Jr. snuck into the Playboy Mansion by pretending to be Scott Caan, son of James Caan, figuring his own surname no longer carried any clout: “After they caught me, I tried to go the ‘son of Bruce Jenner’ route, but it didn’t work.” He says this with absolutely no embarrassment.

The plan to get Nicole Ritchie to eat was devised back in August. Five months later, Jenner and Pratt are telling me about it over a $900 dinner at Mr. Chow, in Beverly Hills. Such an idea is many things—perverse, postmodern, proof that apocalypse predictors shouting nonsense on street corners are onto something—but to Jenner and Pratt, it was a business plan.

Here’s how Pratt, also 23, and the son of a “celebrity dentist,” explains it: “What does it take to be famous nowadays? Nothing! Look at Nicole. She’s on the cover of every magazine every week. And why? Because she doesn’t eat. Well, lots of girls in this country don’t eat. That’s, like, my whole philosophy with Brody—make him part of that. Like at first, when he started showing up in Us Weekly, people were all, ‘Who the hell is that?’ Now they’re starting to be like, ‘Hey, do you know who that is?’”