Lord Patten, the former Conservative minister and the last British governor of Hong Kong, applied for the BBC Trust chairman post.
The UK's Department of Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has been looking for a suitable candidate to succeed Michael Lyons, when he steps down in May 2011. The DCMS is also using headhunter Egon Zehnder to help it in the search.
Patten is said to have shown keen interest in taking up the £110,000-a-year post. He is currently on the European advisory board for private equity group Bridgepoint and on the international advisory board of energy giant BP.
With strong Tory credentials as well as rich corporate experience, Patten is likely to be one of the preferred candidates for the BBC Trust's top post.
YouGov chairman Roger Parry and Richard Hooper, a former regulator at Ofcom, and BBC trustees Dame Patricia Hodgson and Anthony Fry are also understood to have formally applied for the post.
Interviews with shortlisted candidates will take place on 27 and 28 January, and the chosen candidate will be announced in Spring;
The new chairman of the BBC Trust will be appointed for a four-year term and will be paid £21,000 less than Lyons.