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

You enter the interview room with bated breath, hand over your resume, and wait to be called back to be uttered 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 $ 1,00,000 and a chance to work with him for a year? It becomes the first season of The Apprentice for Asia! 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 are of Indian origin — Samuel Rufus Nallaraj from Hyderabad and Ningku Lachungpa from Sikkim. They 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 programmes 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, promoted six times and I’m currently the vice-president.

Ningku: My father is a former minister, social worker and entrepreneur and I’m the only one of my six siblings to have joined the family business. 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 U.S. citizens. My wife, however, knew how keen I was and one day told me the show was coming to Asia and that 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 I’m extremely grateful to my wife.

Ningku: I’ve always been a 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 of entrepreneurs 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. 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 this.

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’m thinking about.

The show airs on AXN India on Fridays at 9 p.m.

PREETI ZACHARIAH

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