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The Apprentice Asia

Based on the hit reality series starring Donald Trump, The Apprentice Asia is finally here with aviation tycoon Tony Fernandes at the helm. The show will pit 12 contestants from around Asia against each other in a battle of wits and skill for the honour of becoming Asia’s very first apprentice. The winner will take on a much-coveted position in one of Fernandes’ many enterprises.



 Contestants Profiles


Nazril Idrus, 38, Malaysia
Marital status: Married
Education: Chartered Accountant, Institute of Chartered Accountants, Australia
Current Occupation: Financial Coach,Trainer & Entrepreneur

“I like to win, actually I love winning. If I ever enter anything, I only want to be the best.”

Nazril dons multiple hats as a financial coach, trainer, entrepreneur and TV host. Years ago, Nazril found himself in a rut after losing money in investments. This was a wakeup call for him especially since his dad died bankrupt, spurring him to take on finance management. He now specialises in coaching wealth management to fellow celebrities, and is also writing a book about investment and finance management.


Celina Le Neindre, 30, Philippines
Marital status: Single
Education: Philippine School of Culinary Arts, Master Chef Program
Current Occupation: Food & Beverage Consultant

“I’m a sore loser but I enjoy a good challenge. I pout and even get angry with myself. I grew up being used to winning, and getting what I want.”

Celina is quite the globetrotter. Growing up, she followed her father, a general manager for a large hotel chain, as he was transferred from France to Tanzania and Philippines. Following her passion for hospitality and tourism, she started off in the South of France by washing dishes and scrubbing toilets! This was in part inspired by her father, who worked his way up from a bellboy to general manager during his 40-year hospitality career. She is now a food and beverage consultant for a steakhouse, and also established and managed her own pasta bar in Philippines.


Nik Aisyah Amirah Binti Mansor, 25, Malaysia
Marital status: Single
Education: Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) from University of Adelaide
Current Occupation: Auditor

“I’ve always been the organiser – be it an event, party, assignment or even a simple outing, as I possess strong leadership skills.”

Nik Aisyah has always dreamt of owning her own business, and is here to prove that she is not just all book-smart. A quick learner, she has always been on the fast track. In school, she jumped a grade and finished primary school a year earlier than her peers. In her first and current job, she rose up a rank six months before she was due for promotion. In the Arabic language, ‘Amirah’ means ‘leader’, which is how people look to her, both in a social and professional capacity. Nik Aisyah describes herself as an ordinary girl who pushes herself to be the best. The Apprentice Asia presents the opportunity for her to take the next big leap in her career.


Ng Kian Tat (Hanzo), 34, Malaysia
Marital status: Married
Education: SPM (O levels equivalent)
Current Occupation: Business Owner

“Money is my no. 1 priority in life. No money no talk rings loud. Everything I do is for money and what money can do for me and my family.”

Hanzo has always chosen the road less taken. At 18, he came across a motivational book that changed his mindset about life and career, and subsequently led him to leave college in the third semester. At 19, he started his first business, which failed; it wasn’t till he embarked on his third and current venture that he succeeded. Even as one of the few candidates without a tertiary degree, Hanzo exudes an air of confidence and is all ready to demolish the competition. He might also have an edge as a fan who has watched all the different franchises of The Apprentice, from the US and UK to the Irish and Australian editions.


Jonathan Allen Yabut, 27, Philippines
Marital status: Single
Education: Bachelor of Science (Economics) from University of the Philippines
Current Occupation: Senior Product Manager

“I am an extremely driven and passionate person. I always set my eyes on the prize, and as my friends say – What Nate wants, Nate gets.”

Jonathan is a proud Pinoy and is not afraid to show it. His belief that ‘Asians are the best’ in the corporate world drives his personal track records. He successfully launched a new
pharmaceutical brand, achieving market leadership in terms of volume and sales in just eight months, a world record in his company’s history across 30 countries. Jonathan was also the recipient of the 2012 Mansmith Young Market Masters Award, as one of the top seven marketers in Philippines under the age of 35.


Ningku Lachungpa, 29, India
Marital status: Single
Education: Masters in Advanced Management Practice from University of Bath
Current Occupation: Director of an infrastructure development company.

“People rarely intimidate me. Situations do.”

Ningku comes from a big family with six other siblings, and the fact that she is the only one in the family business is perhaps most telling of her close relationship with her father. Though she was not professionally trained in construction, she picked things up quickly on the job.
Ningku is always raring for new challenges. She improved the efficiency of her workers by more than 40 percent with her creation of a wheelbarrow that runs on a track. This same wheelbarrow system is now being implemented by other big contractors in her state.


Hendy Setiono, 30, Indonesia
Marital status: Married
Education: Advanced Diploma in E-commerce from Informatics Computer School
Current Occupation: Founder and CEO of his F&B company

“There are many formulas to success, but nothing will happen unless you take action.“

Hendy did not finish university, but that did not stop him from setting up his own kebab chain at 19. Starting from a small village in Surabaya, he operated a push cart with just USD400 in capital. Today, his business is a roaring success, hiring 1,900 employees in over 1,000 outlets in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. 

With several entrepreneurship awards under his belt, Hendy has a trophy in common with Tony Fernandes; they both won Ernst & Young’s ‘Entrepreneur of the Year’ award in their respective countries.


Samuel Rufus Nallaraj, 37, India 
Marital status: Married
Education: MBA (Marketing & Information Systems Management) from Xavier Institute of Management & Entrepreneurship
Current Occupation: Vice President, IT infrastructure, in one of the Big Four professional services firms

“I believe a great leader is also a great follower but not vice versa.”

The son of a retired pastor, Samuel believes he brings a multi-faceted personality to the show. Sam’s loyalty to a company is proven, with him still in his first and only company after 12 long years. During these 12 years, he has taken on four different roles in the company, and has been promoted six times on the fast track. His professional expertise lies in strategic business consulting, and he has experience setting up a remote IT command centre, growing it to a 76-member strong outfit from scratch. Samuel counts acting, emceeing, script writing and directing plays and short films as some of his special talents.


Dussadee Oweawpanich, 35, Thailand
Marital status: Single
Education: Master of Arts (Communication Studies) from University of Northern Iowa
Current Occupation: Owner of a bistro bar

“My diverse background and experiences that I bring to the show will help me win. I’m surrounded by all types of people; I’m good at dealing with them and I’m good at organising and planning.”

Dee grew up with both eastern and western influences, in Thailand where she was born, and in the States where she survived hurricane Katrina. Moving from the countryside to the city has made her resilient. Her parents have been a big influence on her life – her tough and savvy father was a shrimp farm owner, a risky business with unpredictable income, while her meticulous mother, who operated a restaurant, taught her all about hospitality. Aside from her family business, Dee opened her own bistro in 2007, which serves international gourmet food inspired by her travels, as well as authentic Thai cuisine.


Alexis Lothar Baudin, 29, China 
Marital status: Single
Education: Bachelor of Business from IPAG Business School (France)
Current Occupation: Asia Pacific Director in a leading luxury goods conglomerate

“I get promoted fast in every company I work in. That speaks better than any award.”

At 29, Alexis is the youngest Asia Pacific director in the history of his liquor brand, a subset of a leading luxury group. His core achievement is making the spirit brand the fastest growing in its category in China, increasing business revenue exponentially in just three years. Being an expat in Asia, his special talent lies in his linguistic abilities. He speaks four languages and picked up Mandarin in just two and a half months.


Dian Krishna Mukti, 36, Indonesia
Marital status: Married
Education: Master of Arts (Mass Communications) from Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology
Current Occupation: Housewife

“I only dream about meeting successful people if i am given the opportunity to work within an organisation as well-oiled as Tony Fernandes’ team, I will cherish that.”

Dian is a familiar face to many in Indonesia, having been a news anchor on local TV stations for over six years. The former Miss Indonesia 2003 and Mrs Indonesia 2010 has since taken on the role of a ‘homeland engineer’, her spirited take on managing a household of three. Dian looks up to her dad, a director of a state-owned enterprise in Jakarta, who lives by the old school business method of standing by ‘handshake agreements’. To Dian, relationships and integrity in business mean more than money-making.


Andrea Loh Ern-Yu, 25, Singapore
Marital status: Single
Education: Bachelor of Laws (Hons) from National University of Singapore
Current Occupation: Lawyer

“I take a task more seriously when I realise there is a competitive element, I always examine what edge the winner had over me and make a mental note for the future.”

Having always dreamt of being a lawyer, Andrea has now fulfilled her dream practising law in her first full-time job, specialising in civil and commercial litigation. A few months into the job, she worked on a SGD250 million real estate financing deal that opened her eyes to high level negotiations. She has also been involved in two vastly different businesses – a theatre startup, and a alcoholic beverage manufacturing/distribution company, which is still operating. 

Andrea’s independent streak manifests itself when it comes to her chronic wanderlust – she always travels solo and has proven that she can stand up for herself. During a trip to Laos, the feisty young lady boldly decked a rugby player who got too close for comfort.

About The Boss And His Advisors 


Tony Fernandes 
Group Chief Executive Officer, AirAsia 

‘Believe the unbelievable, dream the impossible and never take no for an answer’ – this is the credo that Fernandes has built his success on. A graduate of the prestigious London School of Economics in the United Kingdom, Fernandes began his career as a financial controller at Virgin Communications London, and went on to become the vice president of Warner Music South East Asia.

In 2001, he founded Tune Air together with partners Dato’ Pahamin Rajab, Dato’ Kamarudin Meranun and Dato’ Aziz Bakar with a vision to democratise air travel by offering low fares and quality service. They bought the then loss-making AirAsia from DRB-Hicom for a token MYR1 (USD0.25), and took on the airline’s debt of MYR40 million. AirAsia repaid that debt in less than two years despite the extremely challenging environment in the post-September 11 era. 

AirAsia has now grown into a regional airline group that includes short-haul carriers Malaysia AirAsia, Thai AirAsia, Indonesia AirAsia, Philippines AirAsia and AirAsia Japan, and long-haul carrier AirAsia X. 

Voted World’s Best Low Cost Airline by UK-based aviation research organization Skytrax for the past four consecutive years, AirAsia continues to revolutionise air travel, true to its motto ‘Now Everyone Can Fly’. In 2007, Fernandes co-founded Tune Group with the aim of breaking down affordability
barriers via Tune Hotels, Tune Talk and Tune Money. Tune Group’s portfolio also includes the automotive technology company Caterham Group and the English Premier League team Queens Park Rangers (QPR). Fernandes’ daredevil attitude and business savvy has earned him a slew of accolades including Forbes Asia’s Businessman of the Year in 2010, a listing as one of the most creative people in business by New York-based magazine Fast Company in 2011 and GQ India’s ‘International Businessman of the Year’ in 2012 among others. At only 49, Fernandes is one of Asia’s youngest and most celebrated leaders.

“I’m excited to see how the UK and US versions of The Apprentice have inspired many entrepreneurs. With the diverse pool of talent in Asia, I hope to find someone who dares to follow his or her dreams, and work for me.”~ Tony Fernandes


Mark Lankester
Chief Executive Officer, Tune Hotels Group

At the helm of Tune Hotels for the past six years, Lankester endeavours to change the face of the hospitality business and build a global brand, business model and network. Under his stewardship, the international value hotel brand has grown with 27 properties in Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines and the United Kingdom. With over 15 years of experience in the entertainment and leisure consumer goods industry, Lankester brings to the table solid strategic and financial skills as a marketer and business developer. Lankester recently won the ‘Outstanding Entrepreneurship Award 2012’ at the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards (APEA) and is recognised within the industry for his leadership and marketing experience.


Kathleen Tan 
Chief Executive Officer, AirAsiaExpedia

With a string of awards to her name including ‘Marketer of the Year’ at the Web In Travel annual conference 2012, Tan was instrumental in driving the commercial success of Asia’s biggest low cost carrier. Known for her marketing prowess, she was also responsible for AirAsia’s popular ‘Free Seats’ campaign and its social media development, and for establishing AirAsia’s presence in China. Her efforts in driving airport negotiations and securing government support made AirAsia the first low cost carrier to serve China in 2005. Previously AirAsia’s Group Head of Commercial, she was recently appointed as CEO of AirAsiaExpedia, a joint venture between AirAsia and Expedia, the world’s largest online travel company.


To celebrate the launch of The Apprentice Asia, AirAsia unveils a special livery emblazoned with an image of Tony Fernandes against a cityscape.


Now Showing!

Catch the excitement and boardroom drama on AXN every Wednesday at 9.05pm from May 22, 2013.