10 Questions with Jonathan Yabut

Jonathan Yabut, if you've been living under a rock, is the winner of the first ever "The Apprentice Asia." He bested 11 other contestants from across the region for a 7-figure job at AirAsia, and reporting directly to its CEO, Tony Fernandes.


Starmometer caught up with Philippine pride Jonathan Yabut at Tune Hotel Downtown Kuala Lumpur last Sunday, August 11, where I was fortunate to ask him 10 post-Apprentice Asia questions:

1. During the competition, you exuded confidence in the midst of pressure. Where did it come from?

I’ve always been a ‘bibo’ kid, trained as a debater since high school and represented Philippines in debate tournaments abroad. I believe debate always brings out the confidence in every person and allows u to speak clearly from your brain and out from your lips.

2. Did you expect from the beginning after learning about your rivals that you’re gonna win the competition? If not, who did you expect to win?

I think all 12 did. This job is a once in a lifetime opportunity! But I think I was the one who wanted it the most and that’s why my passion and grit came out.

From week 2, I knew it was either Alex or Andrea and I was right.

3. What are the things that changed abruptly in your life after winning “The Apprentice Asia”?

That I can be my own entrepreneur, too, someday. I thought I was happy with being an employee with 8am to 5pm job but realized i can be like Tony too. I want to have my own kitchen and travel empire very soon!

4. Your prize for winning “The Apprentice Asia” is a yearlong apprenticeship under AirAsia group CEO Tony Fernandes. In lay man’s terms, what will be the nature of your work and when do you start?

I am the new chief of staff of Tony reporting directly to him. Work involves heavy business development (routes, business partnership, enhancing customer experience).

August 15.

5. Are you nervous or excited? Do you have a game plan for the one-year apprenticeship?

Both, and also ready to explore more!

Have fun while at work, bring out my Pinoy guns and pride further, be the biggest sponge—absorb as much networks and learnings from Tony.

6. Will there be a second season of the show? If there is, what advice can you give to the next Filipino aspirants?

Yes, Tony signed for season 2 and 3.

Bring out the Pinoy pride always, Tony finds it charming and respectful (but ensure you’ve got the Asian pride also).

Remember that this is also a physically draining phase not just mental, prepare for the worst.

Lastly, before you even prepare for the boardroom, prepare for the shortlist of final 12—plan what character will you portray and assess if you’re interesting and business-impacting on TV and for Asia.

7. In your experience from the show dubbed by many as the most difficult “job interview” ever, what do you think are the qualities of Filipinos why they easily get hired in other countries?

Palaban – we take pride fighting til the end; we dont quit.
Madiskarte – we are resourceful and creative to find solutions at the moment a problem arises and where it arises.

8. Five years from now, do you see yourself in the airline business or do you plan to put up your own company? What kind of business will that be?

My own kitchen empire. I want my own Filipino-Spanish reato-themed business known worldwide and serving every major city in the world.

Question no. 9, medyo showbiz lang. 🙂

9. Who is your showbiz crush?

Julia Roberts, Sarah Geronimo

10. In three sentences, what advice can you give to those who are aspiring to bag their dream job or to those who want to succeed in business?

You can never be too small to dream big.

Time is the enemy of the ambitious.

The recipe to success is not IQ, good looks, nor wealth—its GRIT!

Check out the Filipino pride’s first day as an AirAsia Allstar at the official Facebook Page of Air Asia Philippines:

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