(UPDATED 2:30 p.m. August 1, 2013) - Exhibiting an effective brand of "diskarte," Filipino marketing executive and University of the Philippines (UP) graduate Jonathan Yabut aced the final challenge given by a Malaysian billionaire to emerge as the first winner of the cable reality show "The Apprentice Asia."
AirAsia Group chief executive Tony Fernandes, the show's host and Yabut's new boss, announced during the show's finale Wednesday that he has chosen the Filipino pharmaceuticals company executive to become his new apprentice over Singaporean lawyer Andrea Loh.
As the show's grand winner, Yabut bagged a one-year work contract with a salary of at least $100,000.
"I think I'm exploding right now. There's so much happiness in me. I am gonna make some big changes in the world,” Yabut said.
Fernandes picked the 27 year old senior product manager of a pharmaceuticals company after a tension-filled boardroom meeting with Yabut and Loh where he and the panel of advisers assessed their performance in the entire competition.
Pointing his forefinger at Yabut, Fernandes said, "Jonathan Yabut, you are hired. Congratulations.”
"You are a junior me in the making. The whole of the Philippines should be very, very proud of you. Welcome to the AirAsia family," the business mogul added.
"The Apprentice Asia" is a franchise of the American reality series with the same title where contestants vie for the chance to become the apprentice of a business magnate. Real estate tycoon Donald Trump and billionaire British entrepreneur Alan Sugar are among the real-life bosses who have hosted the show.
The Economics graduate from the University of the Philippines impressed Fernandes and the panel of advisers with his overall performance during the show's final challenge, where Yabut and Loh were tasked to organize a charity ball for AirAsia Foundation.
Additional pressure was put on the two remaining contenders when it was announced that the event will be attended by very important personalities in Malaysia, as well as Fernandes' high-profile friends.
In a surprise move, the show's producers also brought back six former contestants from which Yabut and Loh will each choose three people to help them with the task.
Yabut picked Nazril "Nash" Idrus, Samuel "Sam" Rufus Nallaraj and half-Filipina food and beverage consultant Celina Le Neindre to be on his team.
Although each of the three former contenders had their own differences with Yabut, they were able to work as a team to pull off a successful charity ball.
In an earlier interview
, Yabut credited his success in "The Apprentice Asia" to the Filipino style of doing things – "diskarte."
"Meron akong isang favorite word sa Tagalog na walang counterpart sa English at yun ang salitang diskarte," he said. "When you say kasi diskarte, kanya-kanyang estilo para mabigyan ng solusyon ang isang problem."
Yabut displayed how adept he was at crafting a winning strategy with his choice of assistants. In a status message posted on his Facebook fan page on Tuesday, the senior product manager of a pharmaceutical company said he picked Idrus, Nallaraj and Le Neindre based on their individual strengths that he felt will help him ace the task.
"Celina is the F&B (food and beverage) queen, Nash knows almost every politician and celebrity in KL (Kuala Lumpur) who will attend the charity ball—something Andrea totally missed out—and is a hitman in execution. Sam is your director, writer, musician, thespian, etc all in one!” he said.
“I joined ‘The Apprentice’ because I’m so sick and tired of seeing Filipinos being bullied when I know we can stand out in the sales and marketing world. This victory is for every Filipino out there. You can never be too small to dream big because dreams are for free… The power is ours to make [our dreams] happen,” he said.
All of the former contenders in "The Apprentice Asia" will be in Manila on Thursday to celebrate with Yabut. — VVP/VC/HS, GMA News