With eight days before the boardroom doors open, TVNZ has revealed its 14 contestants ahead of the premiere of The Apprentice Aotearoa.
The business-themed reality series will showcase the entrepreneurs being put through their paces in a series of tasks, before entering the boardroom for what will be the toughest interview process around.
The candidates must put together marketing, production and business plans each week based on the task given by Mike Pero and impress to stay in the competition.
Each episode will conclude with a compelling boardroom showdown, as Pero––along with advisors Cassie Roma and Justin Tomlinson––evaluate the performances of all of the candidates before deciding which team wins the challenge and who’ll need to return to the boardroom.
The winner will receive a $50,000 investment in their business and ongoing mentorship with Pero, a self-made millionaire and real estate mogul.
Meet the contestants:
Bari Samadi, 40, Auckland
The beverage company managing director came to New Zealand as a refugee from Afghanistan. He’s experienced in the start-up game, having started 15 companies since the age of 16, including the world’s first DIY vitamin gummy kit for kids.
Erna Basson, 33, Auckland
As the hyper-competitive founder of a beauty brand, Basson exudes confidence. She’s learned the power of winging it and will always be a “yes” person for greater opportunities.
Gabriel Elkhishin, 22, Auckland
The youngest candidate of the group is mental health clinician and self-described “zillenial”. The investor says he has his age and psychology background to thank for his success in the field.
Ish Ryklief, 24, Sydney
The car salesman hailing from Sydney holds down a top role, having closed over 500 vehicle sales in the last 24 months. While he comes across as Mr Nice Guy, he isn’t afraid to put people in their place.
Kennedy Anderson, 23, Auckland
Despite his young age, Anderson is the founder and creative director of a social media agency who believes a positive word-of-mouth is one of the best marketing tactics there is. The new age entrepreneur from Waiuku defines success as making his family proud.
Kyria Warren, 43, Auckland
The luxury tourism business founder has come a long way since she began selling rocks at the age of six. The Auckland-based entrepreneur defines success as having a good name in the business.
Megan Fernandes, 24, Auckland
The marketing specialist and sneaker customiser got an early taste of the side-hustle making greeting cards for friends and family at age 10. She’s driven and passionate, and she’s invigorated by new and complex challenges.
Michael Wilson, 33, Auckland
The self-described “boisterous, extroverted and fearless” auctioneer gas worked across a range of industries over the years, giving him a solid understanding of the business world. Over the past two years, he’s been on a soul-searching journey and hopes the show will pave his way for the next chapter.
Nicola Spicer, 36, Auckland / Perth / Bali
The Zingiber Swimwear founder’s designs have graced the cover of many a magazine after being taken up by Hollywood starlets, including the likes of Kourtney Kardashian. Spicer sold the company after years of success to venture into the Airbnb business in Bali. She holds herself accountable to make her dreams come true.
Olivia Rogers, 31, Auckland
The TourismHQ general manager and marketing specialist describes herself as stroppy when things don’t go her way, which she says contributes to her confident edge to chase her freelance dreams. The young upstart places a large amount of emphasis on being herself.
Shardae Mitha, 35, Auckland
The personal trainer, boxing coach and event planner says her spirit animal is a tiger as it's "beautifully majestic and unique, but powerful and dangerous" - something she can relate to. She believes her strong leadership and communication skills will make her the last one standing in the boardroom.
Stephen McDowell, 28, Auckland
When he isn’t interviewing former PM Helen Clark or Green Party MP Chloe Swarbrick, the social media content creator and advisor can be found travelling and hanging out at music festivals. Known as “The Buzzy Kiwi,” McDowell started his first business at 19, which he owes to his ruthless work ethic and the importance of networking.
Tony Collins, 24, Auckland
The social media agency managing director says his experience - coupled with gut extinct, creative tendencies and a range of transferrable skills – has given him more knowledge than most at his age. Collins has been tested time and time again after leaving behind the 9 to 5 role but always comes out on top.
Vanessa Goodson, 30, Auckland
The event agency owner and creative director is a social butterfly who finds the best in every person and situation she encounters – as long as you don’t mess with her time, money or lashes. The entrepreneur is a hard worker with big dreams, but she isn’t afraid to hold back on expressing herself or her emotions.
The Apprentice Aotearoa premieres on Monday, May 10 at 8.30pm on TVNZ 1.