Heart wins over head in The Apprentice Asia
SINGAPORE — As if to reinforce the stereotypes that Filipinos are passionate and emotional, and Singaporeans are practical and hardheaded, The Apprentice Asia’s final challenge saw Filipino contestant Jonathan Yabut relying more on sentiment to organise a charity event to earn him the title of The Apprentice Asia over Singaporean contestant Andrea Loh.
Over the course of the series, 12 participants from Malaysia, China, India, Indonesia and Thailand, as well as from the Philippines and Singapore, competed to win Air Asia CEO Tony Fernandes’ favour. The show was shot in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur and was helmed by Mark Burnett and FremantleMedia Asia.
Yabut, who will start his career as Air Asia’s chief of staff on Aug 15, felt that the Filipino culture worked to his advantage especially in the final challenge.
In a joint phone interview with Loh, the 27-year-old senior product manager mused: “The Gallup poll says that the Filipinos are the most emotional people in the world. The Singaporeans are the least emotional, FYI. Being emotional may not be right in all things. But maybe in the task, it worked as an advantage for me. It came from the heart. I felt I had to rise above saying I’m competent. Competent is something that everyone will claim in this competition… I brought both the competency and the heart. I think that’s what separates you from the rest, and Tony would like to see that.”
On whether possessing typical Singaporean qualities helped or hindered here, 25-year-old lawyer Loh said: “To be honest with you, I don’t think I’m a typical Singaporean in any way to begin with. With how straight-talking I am, that’s not too typical of Singaporeans, because we are the ones who tend to be quite safe in our approach. For me to go out on a limb and join the Apprentice Asia in the first place, that’s pretty atypical.
“But I will say one of the things that helped me was the fact that Singaporeans are used to hard work; we’re comfortable with high stress situations — and with The Apprentice, that’s your environment 24/7. I suppose what hindered me is, yeah, sometimes we’re a little bit more clinical, and Tony himself is not that kind of person. So I guess that’s a minus there.”
When asked what he thought of Loh, Yabut replied: “She speaks her mind, she’s very opinionated, and I think she’s a girl who has balls. She’s a very decisive woman. Even if she doesn’t know anything about marketing and sales, she has proven that you don’t need that background to do well.”
As for her opinion of Yabut, Loh said: “It was difficult to have to face him as an adversary at the end because I’m so used to having him on my side, but I’m going to say this over and over again: There was no other person I would have wanted to go all the way to the end with, and no better person to lose to than Jonathan. I felt he was too PC though, sometimes. He is very safe with his comments, and that’s fine, but I’m a person who will say what comes to mind.”
“I was very PC because I was playing the game,” Jonathan interjected. “She was playing the game well but I was playing the game better.”
“I have to agree with that because I was like a deer in the headlights. I was a 24-year-old ingenue,” Loh said. “And Jonathan is The Apprentice mega super fan; he knows it inside out and was really very shrewd about the whole thing, and therefore he deserved to make it all the way.”