I enrolled in the iOS developer program twice last year, once as a corporation and again as an individual. The process only took a few days in both cases. For the corporate account, Apple called me on the phone to verify.
I read the horror stories, too, but I think most of them must have been from the program's early days. Maybe Apple has worked out the kinks in their approval process - it went smoothly for me.
DBA's are no longer accepted by Apple unless they have reversed their earlier policy.
As a company we found it took a few weeks to get registered, though this was about a year and a half ago.
I signed up as a dba - no problem. Probably about a year ago. It was simple. All I needed was the county-signed document. They apparently accept "Business license" - and that is essentially what I got from my county when I filed for a DBA.
Go get your DBA and find out what "business license" documents you can get from your locality - using those you can likely get the developer status.
I even used it for the hardware program - which is far more onerous and restrictive.
The BIGGER problem is the ridiculous nonsense one has to go through to get provisioning working. Why, Apple, Why? Really, a 25-step process just to be able to install your own app on your own phone? It is horrible and painful and I gave up trying. I guess it is meant to be a barrier of sorts so that only whose who really, really want to write iPhone apps get through.