Two Filipinos have qualified the rigid selection process for the business-themed reality TV series, “The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition” which premiered on Netflix last February 1. Lara Pearl Alvarez, an accountant and martial artist, and Louie Sangalang, a teacher and business owner, make the cut to join an elite group of 16 highly-accomplished contestants vying for the title of The Apprentice.
“The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition” is said to be the toughest series in history. The popular format has been reimagined to test strength, character, and determination unlike any Apprentice before.
“The Apprentice” rounded up 16 candidates handpicked from around the world to compete in a high-stakes competition involving business and physical challenges. The winner will receive a US$250,000 job offer to work directly under ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong for a year as his protege in Singapore.
Rising above adversities
Born in Baguio, Philippines, Lara Pearl Alvarez knows what it’s like to overcome adversity. As a child, she worked long hours under the hot sun on her father’s farm, where she harvested crops and sold them at the local market.
Soon, the proud Igorot started to practice martial arts – she first learned arnis in high school, then taekwondo in college, and then wushu, a style that Baguio City’s own Team Lakay has made famous in ONE Championship. By studying martial arts, she learned important life values like discipline, compassion, humility, and integrity, which helped Alvarez succeed both professionally and personally.
When the Filipina was 22, she got pregnant by her then-boyfriend, who abandoned her and their unborn son. Once her child was born, Alvarez took on the role of both mother and father and has since raised her baby boy with the help of her family. In addition to that enormous responsibility, she works as an accountant and trains diligently with the World Champions at Team Lakay.
Now, Alvarez is ready to conquer one more obstacle: the boardroom, as she hopes to become Chatri Sityodtong’s apprentice.
From cancer survivor to a thriving businessman and teacher
Also born in Baguio, Philippines, Sangalang’s family moved often and he lived in several provinces throughout the country, where he was exposed to the harsh realities of life in a third-world nation.
As an angst-ridden youth, Sangalang got into fights, was alcohol-dependent, and became a father at the tender age of 21. After overcoming appendiceal cancer at the age of 23, however, he finished his humanities degree and got more involved in his daughter’s life.
Most notably, after his life-altering cancer experience, Sangalang began training in mixed martial arts, where he became the undefeated URCC Featherweight Champion from 2003 to 2005. In 2005, Sangalang was a semifinalist on “Kamao: Matira ang Matibay,” the first boxing reality TV show in the Philippines.
After his professional combat sports career, Sangalang worked in several industries such as microfinance, entertainment, hospitality, casinos, business process outsourcing, and insurance. Ultimately, he climbed the ranks in AXA Philippines, going from a Brand & Communications Officer to Executive Assistant to the CEO, to eventually Head of Procurement and Purchasing.
Sangalang took an early retirement and dropped out of business school to open his own procurement consulting firm and to teach at three universities in Metro Manila. His latest project involved the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) and the World Bank.
In 2018, Sangalang became the first Filipino cancer survivor to finish the North Pole Marathon. In the same year, he completed the inaugural Ironman Philippines and was promoted to BJJ purple belt by Professor Fernando Salvador under the Pedro Sauer BJJ Association.
Sangalang now wants to take his business and sports acumen into the boardroom, where he hopes to become Chatri Sityodtong’s apprentice.
An all-new ‘The Apprentice’
For the first time, viewers will see world champion athletes and top CEOs challenge candidates with physical and business tasks. The cross-cultural cast, including candidates from 11 nations, is a major change of pace from other versions of “The Apprentice”. Not only will the series take viewers into unchartered territory with tasks, it will transport audiences to experience The Lion City – Singapore
Special guest CEOs confirmed to join “The Apprentice” include Zoom CEO Eric Yuan, Grab CEO Anthony Tan, Zilingo CEO Ankiti Bose, Catcha Group CEO Patrick Grove, and Everise CEO Sudhir Agarwal.
Athletes confirmed to make appearances on the show include martial arts legends Georges St-Pierre and Renzo Gracie, former ONE Welterweight World Champion Ben Askren, ONE Heavyweight World Champion Brandon Vera, ONE Women’s Atomweight World Champion Angela Lee, ONE Flyweight World Grand Prix Champion Demetrious Johnson, Indian Wrestling Champion Ritu Phogat, Karate World Champion Sage Northcutt, and ONE Women’s Strawweight World Champion Xiong Jing Nan.
“The Apprentice” is one of the biggest non-scripted reality television programs in history, judging the business skills of candidates who are competing for a job offer under a high-profile CEO. It has aired in more than 120 countries. The first season of “The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition” will consist of 13 episodes.