Samuel Rufus Nallaraj and Ningku Lachungpa on their experience with The Apprentice Asia

You shine your shoes and slick back your hair. Don your best black suit and double-space your resume. Wear that almost indecipherable dab of lipstick and the faintest trace of cologne. First impressions are the best ones, you hear them say.

You cross your legs and lean back, butterflies in your tummy as you wait for your name to be called. You enter the interview room with bated breath, hand over your resume and sit at the edge of your chair waiting for the person sitting across you to peruse it. You offer a nervous smile and with a funny little quiver in your voice answer the questions he throws at you. He leads you out of the room and you wait, hoping that you will be called back, that he will utter those magic words, “You’re hired.”

So what happens when the man across the table is Airline entrepreneur, Tony Fernandes and he is offering you $100,000 dollars and a chance to work with him for a year?

Welcome to the first season of The Apprentice for the Asian sub-continent. Produced by Fermantle Media Asia and Sony Pictures Television Network Asia and hosted by the aforesaid Tony Fernandes, AirAsia Expedia CEO Kathleen Tan and Tune Hotel Group CEO Mark Lankester, this show sees 12 contestants across Asia compete in various tasks and have boardroom discussions that showcases their talent, skills and experience.

Two of these contestants who are of Indian origin — Samuel Rufus Nallaraj from Hyderabad, and Ningku Lachungpa from Sikkim—share their experience on the show.

Tell us about yourself

Sam: My father was a pastor so I grew up in a strongly religious environment and was involved in a lot of church-related activities. As a result, I took part in a lot of cultural programs and developed an interest in many things. I went on to do a degree in business management, joined a leading IT firm and have been here for 12 years. I have taken on four different roles in the company, have been promoted six times and currently hold the designation of Vice-President.

Ningku: My father is a former minister, social worker and entrepreneur and I am the only one of my six siblings to have joined the family business. I am not trained in construction—in fact I have a management degree from the University of Bath—but I learnt on the job and through discussions with my father.

Why did you choose to participate in this competition?

Sam: I am a big fan of The Apprentice. I applied earlier but was rejected as it was applicable only to US citizens. My wife however knew how keen I was on the show and one day when I got back from work she told me that the show was coming to Asia and I should apply. I was hesitant at first, thinking I was now too senior for it but she kept telling me to and I finally did.I went on to qualify and am extremely grateful to my wife for pushing me to apply.

Ningku: I’ve always been a massive fan of the show and have followed it consistently. When they called for applications, I just jumped at it and got through.

Describe your experience on the show?

Sam: The show had a brilliant mix ofentrepreneurs and professionals, young and old, women and men and it was a great experience.

Ningku: It was an amazing experience and I made a bunch of friends. But it was a lot more challenging than I thought it would be.

One major learning/observation you made on the show.

Sam: Coming from a consulting background, I have the habit of running through different analyses before coming to a result. But when I tried to explain something to Tony, he got impatient and asked me to tell him the conclusion first—basically getting to the bottom line fast. I had to invert the pyramid of my speech and that was a real learning.

Ningku: Tony is this amazing person who has everything balanced out perfectly well. It is like work and play for him at the same time with his time managed extremely efficiently. I feel a lot of us here in India lack a quality as great as this. I also noticed that he has this amazing childlike quality of getting excited on or for a lot of things, which a lot of people who have achieved so much do not possess. I really respect him for it.

So what are your plans for the future?

Sam: Well the one thing I would like to do is to put together a memoir sharing with my readers the things I have learnt on my journey. I also think I would one day want to start my own firm or company.

Ningku: Well there is this very important housing project I am thinking about but I can’t tell you much more about it.

The show premiered on May 24 and airs on AXN India on Fridays at 9 pm.