Apprentice team from HKU comes up trumps

James Moore

Forget Donald Trump, bad hairdos and Manhattan boardrooms, a new kind of reality has hit Hong Kong. The 'Stella Artois presents The Apprentice' competition in Hong Kong set out to find those with the greatest business talent, and on Friday in Causeway Bay, Rosanna Wilcox and Sandrella Sarkis of the University of Hong Kong team were announced the winners.

Organised by Stella Artois and TVB Pearl, the competition saw four teams carry out three Apprentice-style business challenges over three weeks to win an internship with the Stella Artois local marketing team this summer, and a trip to Belgium to watch the Stella Artois World Draught Master Competition 2005.

The four teams were MBA students and graduates from HKU, the Chinese University of Hong Kong, the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and the Richard Ivey School of Business, Hong Kong.

Having successfully navigated the application process which involved submitting a detailed business plan for holding a party at a restaurant or bar and increasing Stella Artois beer sales, the four teams made up of two contestants each embarked on a series of tasks.

The first task in the competition was held three weeks ago at Sha Tin New Town Plaza and involved setting up a stall and selling any kind of item to raise money for the Hong Chi Association, an organisation that provides services to the mentally handicapped.

TVB personalities Rabee'a Yeung, YoYo Chen, Sham Po-yee and Leanne Li Yanan were on hand to help boost sales.

The HKU team won this task by decorating its booth African-style and hiring an African drummer to perform. The team also sold sweets. They raised $11,225.

The Chinese University team raised $5,320 selling magic tricks and accessories. The HKUST team sold $4,707 worth of stuffed toys. And the Richard Ivey School of Business team sold facial masks and kung fu electronic toys, raising $4,459.

The second task was to organise and manage a three-hour party at either the Hong Kong Brew House, Grappa's (Pacific Place), Inn Side Out or the East End Brewery. The aim of this task was to generate Stella Artois sales.

Judging was divided into 30 per cent for execution and creativity and 70 per cent for actual revenue and sales of the beer.

The winning team was HKU. They decorated their assigned venue and had models wearing Stella Artois T-shirts at the event.

The Chinese University team came second. It held drinking competitions with special prizes given out every 30 minutes.

The Richard Ivey team, which came third, served free snacks to anyone who ordered a bottle of Stella Artois.

The HKUST team implemented a 'Buy one, get one free' promotion, and distributed flyers to residents in the Quarry Bay area to advertise the event. They finished fourth.

In the final task, teams had to present a sales pitch to the owner of an outlet to encourage them to stock Stella Artois beer for as long as they could.

All four teams had good creative pitches. The Richard Ivey team achieved the highest mark, followed by the Chinese University of Hong Kong, HKU and finally HKUST.

After the three tasks, the HKU team were announced as the overall winners.

The team's chief responsibility will be to arrange and supervise the forthcoming Stella Artois World Draught Master Competition 2005 Hong Kong regional final, and to attend the global finals in the Belgian capital, Brussels, later this year.

In the words of Mr Trump in the final The Apprentice television episode of the series, 'You're hired!'

THE contestants

The Chinese University of Hong Kong team

Ruud de Hart

Ada Lu Shan-shan

Richard Ivey School of Business team

Arion Maniatis

Edmund Chun Ho-wong

The University of Hong Kong team

Rosanna Wilcox

Sandrella Sarkis

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology team

Wing Hon-wong

Rammohan Sampath