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From:My Paperposted on 22 May at 3:39 PM
22 May at 3:39 PM

Just 15min to call loved ones weekly for The Apprentice Asia participants

By WINONA WEE

IN TODAY’S technology-driven world, it must be difficult for one to imagine going five weeks without access to the Internet or a mobile phone.

More so if his profession requires him to constantly be in contact.

That was what civil-and-commercial litigation lawyer Andrea Loh had to be put through as one of the final 12 contestants in The Apprentice Asia, a spin-off of the American reality show where business entrepreneurs from various backgrounds compete against one another in several tasks to avoid being “fired”.

“It’s reality television and we need to preserve the integrity of the show. You’ve got no access to the outside world...(except for) one phone call a week,” said Ms Loh in a phone interview with My Paper.

Born and bred in Singapore, the 25-year-old was first approached by one of the producers of The Apprentice Asia during closed casting, but she initially put the idea aside due to her busy schedule.

However, after seeing an advert of the show, she decided to fill in and submit the 13-page application form, along with a four-minute audition video.

Among the 30,000 applicants from Asia, 100 were called for interviews, before they were cut down to 30, and then to a final 12.

The finalists were then put up in an apartment in Kuala Lumpur for five weeks, where they faced weekly tasks, during which they remained out of contact with everyone.

The only connection Ms Loh had to the outside world was a weekly 15-minute phone call, which she made to her parents.
Ms Loh told friends that she was on a work posting, and to her colleagues, she said she had to take time off for personal reasons.

The debut season follows Mr Tony Fernandes, group chief executive officer of AirAsia, on his quest to find the right executive to work for him. Touted as the Asian Donald Trump, he will have the power to hire and fire contestants.

Mr Mark Lankester, group chief executive officer of Tune Hotels, and Ms Kathleen Tan, chief executive officer of Expedia Asia, will serve as personal advisers to Mr Fernandes, who Ms Loh said was the “most intimidating” among the three.

So, what can viewers expect from the first episode? Well, for starters, they’ll be selling fish. But it’s not as simple as it looks.

Ms Loh said she’s learnt that it’s not about the results, but about the process, and that different ways of doing things and dealing with people can be “very beneficial”.

“The Apprentice Asia has definitely broadened my perspective, both towards work and life in general.

“The other 11 people I met are all extremely successful in their own fields and passionate about what they do.

“It’s affirmed for me that, in life, it’s vital to engage yourself in a career that you love, because only then can you find true success,” said Ms Loh, in contrast to the pragmatism that many Singaporeans live by.

wwee@sph.com.sg

This article was first published in My Paper on May 20, 2013.

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