Thursday, January 27, 2005

Apprentice Show Arab Version

Plans to launch a pan-Arab version of NBC's smash hit business TV show The Apprentice, with Dubai offering the bustling big city backdrop in a straight replacement for New York, were unveiled today.
Mohamed Ali Alabbar, Emaar’s chairman.
In a further startling departure from the original show Mohamed Ali Alabbar, Emaar's chairman, will take the title role given such a high profile by US real estate mogul Donald Trump. The Apprentice, scheduled to be broadcast weekly on LBCSat over a 15-week period from October this year will see the winner appointed from 16 contestants to run one of the Emaar companies for a year while being paid a US$300,000 salary. Mr. Alabbar, who combines the chairmanship of Emaar with running real estate, hospitality, fashion and financial services businesses across three continents, will have the final say on who is finally hired …. and fired from the show. New York's dynamic 24-hour city with its characteristic mixture of soaring towers and luxury mansions for the mega-rich provided the perfect backdrop for the original US version of the show and the aspirations of the contestants. Now Dubai's non-stop modern cityscape is to play a similar role for the thousands of aspiring apprentices who are expected to queue up for the once in a lifetime opportunity the show will offer. The announcement followed a novel media launch at the Burj Dubai Presentation Centre attended by Sheikh Pierre El-Daher, Chairman of LBCSat. The Apprentice format is owned by Mark Burnett and distributed by Freemantle Media. Filming will begin in April and a region-wide audience in millions is expected to follow each episode. Recruitment for business apprentices will take place across all Arab countries and thousands will be interviewed for this life-changing opportunity. 'This is my chance to give something back,' Mr. Alabbar said. 'I represent the Dubai dream and now I'm going to show young people how to turn their dreams into reality. We have been set a marvelous example here in Dubai by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who has shown that dreams – even the most visionary – can be turned into reality. Everyone in business in Dubai who has been a success can be said to have been his apprentice. 'This programme is not about me or even the people who are competing for the top prize. It is about creating a new dream for the Arab world, one that touches us all and that can be achieved through business. I want apprentices to be everywhere in the Arab world, learning and planning and building businesses. We also have to learn and acquire the winning habit and this programme will help towards that,' Mr. Alabbar said. The Apprentice recreates the format owned by Burnett, but will be tailored to reflect the unique ethos of the Arab world. The biggest change sees Dubai's rich panorama replacing New York's metropolitan chic and drive as the backdrop for the action. However, the tasks the would-be apprentices are allocated could take them to any part of the region. The programme will recruit 16 of the Arab World's finest talent – youngsters who can act as role models for millions of their peers. It will screen and broadcast the would-be apprentices competing against each other in two teams of eight to carry out a set project. Like Trump, Mr. Alabbar is the final judge and chooses who is hired – goes through to the next task – and who is fired. Mr. Alabbar has worked his way up from humble beginnings to become a standard bearer for Middle East business and he continues to set new benchmarks for would be business leaders. His spectacular ascent is the inspiration for the aspiring business successes and defines the framework for each episode, setting out the task that ends with the boardroom showdown. He is also the final arbiter and judge the one who each week passes the sentence that ejects a candidate from the contest and from viewers' screens. Contestants will be assessed on their intelligence, personality, drive and street-wise smartness. They will face numerous challenges and must complete difficult assignments. They will need to show imagination and management ability to win – the very qualities Emaar looks for in its executives. Contestants might be told to run a grocery store in a difficult locality, or to start a manufacturing business with few natural and human resources. Sheikh Pierre said: 'Dubai is the ideal replacement for New York and Alabbar is the ideal person to host the show. Dubai encapsulates the new Arab Dream and has grasped the art of turning the possible into reality. It has all the best qualities of New York, its vibrancy, cosmopolitan variety and wealth of opportunity, yet it remains an Arab city. 'Alabbar represents the realisation of the Dubai dream. He too has made it. He has done so by using his head without forgetting his heart or his instincts, which ultimately is what makes the difference between success and failure in today's competitive business environment. 'The show will undoubtedly be popular right across the region and will encourage not just the participants but also the viewers to live the success – or failure – of those in the hot-seat.' American real estate tycoon Donald Trump, owner of landmark property Trump Tower and a host of other signature developments, took the lead role in the original NBC version in the US and turned it into a television classic with his trademark blunt speaking and ruthless fire and hire approach. The must-see show is on its third series after averaging more than 18 million viewers an episode while offering wannabe billionaires the chance to live 'the American dream' and the lifestyle of the fabulously wealthy. For the first show more than 250,000 candidates were whittled down to just 16, who were housed in a luxury suite in Trump Tower, New York, for the duration of the show or until they were fired and shown the exit. The show is aired across the United States, Europe, Middle East, Asia and Australia. The contestants compete for a US$250,000 dream job as president of one of Trump's companies for a year.


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