Pinoy wins 'The Apprentice Asia'

By Karen Flores,

Posted at Jul 31 2013 10:22 PM | Updated as of Aug 01 2013 06:41 PM

The Apprentice Asia winner Jonathan Allen Yabut. -- Photo courtesy of

MANILA - (UPDATE 2) Filipino Jonathan Allen Yabut won the first season of the business reality show "The Apprentice Asia."

Yabut, a senior product manager of a pharmaceutical company in the Philippines, was chosen by AirAsia's Tony Fernandes as his apprentice over Singaporean lawyer Andrea Loh Ern-Yu, as seen in the the final episode of "The Apprentice Asia" aired on AXN on Wednesday night.

"Jonathan Yabut, you are hired. Congratulations," Fernandes told Yabut.

"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," he added.

"I think I'm exploding right now and there's so much happiness in me," Yabut said, adding, "I'm gonna make big changes in the world."

In the two-part finale which was first aired on July 24, Yabut and Loh were given their last task of organizing a black tie event for AirAsia Foundation.

Humble beginnings

A University of the Philippines graduate, Yabut said he has been a fan of "The Apprentice" since he was in college. 

The 27-year-old talks freely about his humble beginnings.

"I'm pretty much a self-made man. I went through preparatory school to college all through scholarships. I'm not saying these things because I want your pity but because I made it big, sir, without anything else. And that's something I'm very proud of," he told Fernandes.

Yabut said he wants to be an inspiration for his fellow Filipinos. 

"When I wear this Filipino flag pin, it's not because I'm too nationalistic. It's because I want to serve as that inspiration to the rest of my country that there is hope, that I represent that hope in them, sir. That despite the fact that you may be from poor beginnings, you can make it big," he said.

The advisers of Malaysian business mogul Fernandes -- AirAsia Group Head of Commercial Kathleen Tan and Tune Hotels Group CEO Mark Lankaster -- were all praises for Yabut.

Yabut told and other members of the media during the premiere screening of "The Apprentice Asia" last May that he did not feel the pressure of competing with older and more experienced players.

"There were both immature and mature people in the show. And since you’re from different backgrounds, you really tend to compromise. So I think the age didn’t really matter at all. You wouldn’t even know what the ages of the people are until you ask,” he said of his fellow competitors, which included a business owner, a financial coach and an auditor, among others. 

He hoped to show the rest of the world that Filipinos can do well, particularly in terms of sales and marketing.

After winning the business reality show, Yabut said he plans to make big changes in the world.

"It's cliché to say na maiiyak ako pero this is it. It took me the next day to sink in na ako na ang unang Apprentice Asia," he told ABS-CBN News.

Food and beverage consultant Celina Le Neindre, the other Filipino finalist in "The Apprentice Asia," earlier said in an interview that Filipinos can expect to see "a lot of Pinoy pride moments" in the finale of the business reality show.

Le Neindre made a comeback in the reality series as she and five other finalists helped Yabut and Loh complete their final task. -- with reports from Ginger Conejero, ABS-CBN News