Should Jackie Collins ever pen a sequel to The World is Full of Married Men, I've got the perfect title for her: The World is Full of Belligerent Bosses. Just look at the number of international versions of The Apprentice in existence...
Since originating in the United States back in 2004 no fewer than 22 different incarnations of The Apprentice have been produced worldwide, all based on the original show’s winning formula of marrying high-calibre production values with low-calibre contestants.
But as much as we all like a good chortle at the deluded would-be apprentices spouting off about how their first word was "money" rather than "mummy", the show’s real star is the person dominating the boardroom: scowling, wagging their finger and bellowing "you’re fired" week in, week out.
And while we in Blighty are all familiar with the sight of Baron Sugar of Clapton calling the shots on the business-based reality show, there's a whole host of equally entertaining tycoons around the world heading up the various territorial versions of The Apprentice. Would you like to meet, say, ten of them? I thought you might. OK, let’s go…
Name: Donald Trump
Country: United States of America
Catchphrase: “You’re fired!”
The man who started it all, the billionaire with the hair, is the CEO of The Trump Organisation in the States, a business that develops hotels, resorts, golf courses and the like. Trump has proven so popular on The Apprentice that he’s not only paid a reported $3m per episode, he’s also been installed as the host of a business-based dating-show(!) called The Ultimate Merger.
Name: Bill Cullen
Country: Republic of Ireland
Catchphrase: “You are fired.”
While Donald Trump and Alan Sugar insist on being addressed respectively as Mister and Lord, there’s no such pretence with the Irish Apprentice’s boss, who’s content enough to be known as plain old Bill. His business background is largely in cars and today Cullen owns the largest Renault dealership in Ireland, as well as a 5-star hotel in Killarney. He’s also a thoroughly nice chap beneath his Apprentice bluster, having donated millions of Euros to Irish youth charities.
Name: Jean-Claude Bessudo
Catchphrase: “Estás despedido!” (“You’re fired!”)
Bessudo, as well as looking for all the world like Alan Sugar’s well-fed brother on El Aprendiz, is the owner of Colombia’s largest tourism organisation, which deals in everything from insurance to medical assistance. A Frenchman who set up shop in Colombia nearly half a century ago, he’s a markedly less grumpy magnate than Lord Sugar with a personal philosophy that values happiness more than money.
Name: Nora Mojsejová
Catchphrase: “U mňa si dnes skončil!” (“With me, today is over!”)
Not only is Mojsejová a successful businesswoman, she’s also taken a leaf out of Donald Trump’s book and run for high office in her home country, Slovakia, after buying the political party Alliance of the New Citizen and changing its name to the Free Word Party of Nora Mojsejová. Despite her new political outfit finishing 24th out of 25 parties in the 2012 Slovak parliamentary election, Šéfka (the Czech/Slovak version of The Apprentice) was a success when it was broadcast in 2011, so at least her media career's thriving and should help recoup some of the dosh blown on her election campaign.
Name: João Doria Jr
Catchphrase: “Você está demitido!” (“You’re fired!”)
Businessman and lecturer João Doria Jr took over from Roberto Justus as the host of O Aprendiz in 2010. The head of communications company the Doria Group, Doria Jr is no stranger to the media spotlight having been host of TV business talk show Show Business in Brazil since 1992, in which he conducts interviews with successful entrepreneurs, a job that must make his contrasting dealings with hapless Apprentice contestants all the more frustrating.
Name: Biodun Shobanjo
Catchphrase: “You’re fired! Go!”
A businessman with seemingly limitless confidence (“without meaning to be immodest, I really have never failed in my life”), Shobanjo is the head of the marketing company Insight Communications. His appointment as the boss on The Apprentice Africa in 2008 was apt considering his personal philosophy sounds a little like something you’d expect, say, Stuart Baggs to mouth: “Winning is not everything. It is the only thing!”
Name: Peter Gontha
Catchphrase: “Anda saya pecat” (“You are dismissed!”)
With business interests in both property and media, Gontha was picked as the head of The Apprentice Indonesia because of his credentials as a credible businessman and someone "whose lifestyle reflects his success" (whatever that means). An art lover as well as an entrepreneur, Gontha’s passion is jazz. He founded the Jakarta International Java Jazz Festival in 2005.
Name: Tuncay Özilhan
Cathphrase: “Seninle çalışmak istemiyorum!” (“I do not want to work with you!”)
The billionaire beverages magnate took charge of Donald Trump’s duties on Çırak, the Turkish Apprentice, in 2005. His business, the Andolu Group, brews Efes beer and has recently taken over another brewer, SABMiller’s operation in Russia and the Ukraine. When not firing candidates on TV or expanding his business empire, Özilhan enjoys watching basketball and collecting pens.
Name: Klaus Pedersen Riskær
Catchphrase: “Du er fyret” ("You’re fired")
Danish entrepreneur Klaus Pedersen Riskær was installed as the boss on Hired or Fired (the Danish adaptation of The Apprentice) in 2005 after the US version of the show was broadcast on TV Denmark, a channel Riskær himself founded in 2001. He rose to prominence in technology before being bitten by the media bug and has guested in a whole raft of Danish TV series since Hired or Fired disappeared from the airwaves.
Name: Aad Ouburg
Catchphrase: "Ik ga niet in zaken met u" (“I'm not going into business with you”)
Household appliances magnate Ouburg took charge of the second version of The Apprentice launched in Holland, Topmanager Gezocht ("Search for the Top Manager"), which was first broadcast in 2011. Perhaps fittingly for a man whose life straddles both worlds, Ouburg’s personal philosophy is: “Business is entertainment.” And frankly, with so many versions of The Apprentice out there, who’s going to argue with that?
Who's your favourite international Apprentice boss? What do you think is the best way of saying "you're fired"? Leave us a comment and let us know...