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Two young Pinoy executives compete in ‘The Apprentice Asia’

Forbes Asia’s 2010 Asia Businessman of the Year Tony Fernandes (center) with the 12 contestants of 'The Apprentice Asia'.

Two Filipino executives join 10 other Asian professionals in competing for the opportunity to work with Forbes Asia’s 2010 “Asia Businessman of the Year”, Tony Fernandes when “The Apprentice Asia” airs on AXN starting May 22.

The Asian edition of the popular reality competition show dubbed as “the world’s toughest job interview,” “The Apprentice Asia” follows a similar format where the top 12 candidates are split into two teams according to gender.

As the candidates are tested on their skills in the areas of selling, negotiation, creativity, management, branding and leadership, their teams are given a weekly task where they are required to select a project manager who will serve as their team leader.

The winning team receives a generous reward while the losing team will join Fernandes and fellow board members Mark Lankester, CEO of the Tune Hotels’ Group, and Kathleen Tan, CEO of Expedia Asia’s CEO, in analyzing what went wrong and determining which team member should be “fired” from the show.

Jonathan 'Nate' Yabut.

Representing the Philippines for the show’s maiden season are Jonathan “Nate” Yabut and Celina Le Neindre. Nate, 27, is an Economics major from the University of the Philippines who is currently the senior product manager of a pharmaceutical company. He is only one of seven marketers under the age of 35 to win the 2012 Mansmith Young Market Masters Award.

“I am an extremely driven and passionate person. I always set my eyes on the prize, and as people would describe me, what Nate wants, Nate gets,” he boldly declared.

Celina Le Neindre.

Celina, on the other hand, is a 30-year-old food and beverage consultant for a steakhouse who has a Master Chef Program education from the Philippine School of Culinary Arts. Despite being the daughter of a globe-trotting general manager of a large hotel chain, Celina literally worked her way up the food chain by washing dishes and scrubbing toilets.

“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,” she noted.

Competing with and against them for the show’s weekly challenges are Alexis Baudin of China, Andrea Loh of Singapore, Dian Krishna Mukti and Hendy Setonio of Indonesia, Dussadee Oeawpanich of Thailand, Nazril Idrus, Ng Kian Tat (Hanzo) and Nik Aisyah of Malaysia, and Ningku Lachungpa and Samuel Rufus Nallaraj of India.

These top 12 candidates,whose ages range from 25 to 38, come from an interesting myriad of backgrounds in entertainment, food and beverage, hospitality, information technology and the legal and finance world.

Some are in their first jobs, some already own a thriving business; some have the gift of the gab from their years in showbiz and others like Nate been recognized for their work in marketing and entrepreneurship in their respective countries.

Tony Fernandes, the show’s “CEO”, is best known for presiding over the turnaround of Malaysian international budget airline AirAsia one year after personally taking over its operations.

His fellow board member Mark Lankester led Tune Hotels’ growth to 27 properties in the region and as a result, won the Outstanding Entrepreneurship Awards 2012 at the Asia Pacific Entrepreneurship Awards. Expedia Asia’s Kathleen Tan was also instrumental in driving the commercial success of AirAsia where she championed its launch in China. She was also crowned the ‘Marketer of the Year’ at the Web In Travel Annual Conference 2012.

As Tony’s advisors, Mark and Kathleen will join the teams on the ground to observe how they complete their task. Their opinions will weigh heavily on who Tony decides to fire at the end of the day.

In the very first episode alone, the candidates are given the challenging task of selling fish. Many of these high fliers who have never stepped foot in a wet market will find it a remarkably humbling experience.

Presented by AirAsia, Expedia, Hilton Hotels & Resorts, IG, official smartphone BlackBerry and official car Volkswagen Malaysia, “The Apprentice Asia” premieres on May 22 and airs every Wednesday at 9:05PM exclusively on AXN.