With stakes at an all-time high, it’s understandable if the 16 global candidates in The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition truly went the cutthroat route in this high-stakes game of business competitions and physical challenges. Yet somehow, alliances and friendships were forged along the way, seeing different results for the candidates themselves.
The MoRina Alliance was the most evident, with Monica Millington and Irina Chadsey making it to as far as the top four of this once-in-a-lifetime competition.
“It’s not something evil. It’s not something that is done to put down the rest of the contestants. It’s more of your own support system and having that person you can rely on every step of the way,” said Chadsey, the 29-year-old investment consultant from Russia.
“It’s a very strong emotional foundation, and I was very glad and lucky in a sense that I found a partner in Monica because she and I work together so closely. We’re linked on an intellectual, emotional, mental level, and we found friends in each other.”
Millington, the 30-year-old fashion entrepreneur from the United States, clarified that it wasn’t lost between them that only one can win the prize of a $250,000 job offer as ONE Championship chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong’s protégé and chief of staff at the ONE Championship Global Headquarters in Singapore. But both of them understood that as tough as the competition is, you still need someone to lift you up when you’re down.
“We kind of thought about it in the same nature as you would think about the Hunger Games. You know there’s only going to be one winner at the end, but you’re not going to get to the end if you don’t have partners in the game. And so we always said we’ll deal with the end when we get to it, we’d fight honorably and we’d support each other and remain human throughout all of this. But you can’t fight these huge battles and put on these huge impossible tasks and business challenges 100-percent on your own. You needed allies and you needed partnerships and you needed it, your team to be rooting for you to get as far as we got,” she said.
Curiously, the MoRina alliance was brought about when both Monica and Irina felt that Louie Sangalang were planting seeds of doubts back in their time together at Team Valor.
“I had become a target for Louie and Irina had noticed that he was kind of poking people to kind of see how they felt about me,” recalled Monica. “And she came up to me and she’s like, ‘Listen, it’s not my best interest to tell you this, but you need to watch your back.’ So I thought that was really cool of Irina because she could have very easily sat there and played the game. And we decided to have that conversation instead and we wanted to stay human throughout all of this and we wanted to fight with honor as ourselves instead of succumbing to the competition. And so I think that that was something I really admired about Irina and I wanted to be on her team, because of the way that she addressed that.”
Truly, it paid dividends for Millington and Chadsey as they acted as each other’s backers when things were down.
“Many times, we wanted to quit every minute. I remember walking down the Andaz hallways being like, ‘This is it. I’m gonna walk out and I’m done.’ But having Irina or Jessica come up to me and say, ‘You’re not quitting! You’re better than that!’ That was really, really important,” said Monica.
Not even their firing in episode 11 could dim the standout pitch the MoRina alliance had for Habitat for Humanity, with the two taking pride in how they made their presentations despite all the difficulties they endured.
“Monica and I would literally sleep for 30 minutes before we had to go to present our final presentation on Twilio. We went to the makeup room at about five in the morning to get ourselves ready and we were both looking in our mirrors respectively, and we could feel how the last drips of energy were leaving us. But then Irina slapped [some sense into me] and Monica also did that and we said let’s get this (expletive) together,” shared Irina. “We were so close and we cannot let this happen. MoRina is stronger than this, and in the end, the passion, the adrenaline, everything kicked in.”
“This was the business challenge where Chatri said that this was our best performance ever, because we literally put our 200-percent to make sure that no matter how she would feel, no matter how crappy twe might look, we still put our game on and we’re ready to fight.”
To a lesser degree, there’s also the bond between Nazee Sajedi and Joy Koh — one that was even noticed by Chatri as a political game being played within Team Conquest that ultimately cost their downfall in the halfway point of the competition.
“There was obviously some alliance already happening from Jess and Kex because they’re from the same team. And I don’t think it was in that alliance. So it was really difficult to manage these personalities for that task,” looked back Joy, who took the role as the project manager in the business task which needed teams to come up with collaborative product Jewel Changi Airport retailers The Shirt Bar and Bengawan Solo.
Tensions were definitely rising in week five that saw Nazee and Joy constantly butt heads with Jessica Ramella, Niraj Puran Rao, and Kexin Ye. Team Conquest’s loss that week, however, proved to be costly as Koh was later on shown the door.
Joy, however, argued that more than the in-game alliance, what she had with Nazee isn’t solely a political move at all. “It’s called a friendship,” she said during the reunion show.
“I think it’s a real friendship that was happening. I love that girl and we’re still really good friends up to this point, even though we’re not in the same country anymore. It is quite political because at the end of the day, this is a competition and these people are in there to win some more than others, and so I think for some others they took it a lot more. They did what was politically right, and some others just did what was right.”
Like Koh though, Sajedi was soon given the pink slip as she was fired in episode nine.
Still, at the core of it all, these alliances are only rooted on one simple thing: their friendship.
“Monica is one of my best friends for life, I can tell that for sure right now after the competition,” said Irina. “I think we are breaking stereotypes about how well Russians and Americans can get together. And secondly, it’s all about women supporting women, us uplifting and empowering each other. And I think this competition, with this tough environment that we were in, is such a great example of how you can exemplify these values that are true to yourself.”
Catch the episode 12 reunion show of The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition this week as it is showing across Asia on AXN, the show’s official Asian broadcast partner, with markets to include Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam.
The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition is also available on other platforms and TV networks across Asia, including MediaCorp (Singapore), Abema (Japan), KompasTV (Indonesia), Amarin TV (Thailand), LINE TV (Thailand), TV5 Network (Philippines), and HTV (Vietnam).