Questions were raised to the strategic approach Louie Sangalang has taken in the first seven episodes of The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition.
And surely, the other candidates have taken notice, especially with the moves the Filipino did in the latest episode.
First, Sangalang, a trained mixed martial artist in his own right, baffled the field as he took the backseat for Team Valor in the physical task where both teams engaged in a one-on-one grappling match. Acknowledging the enthusiasm of his teammate Eugene Chung, he allowed the 23-year-old digital marketer to face off against the bigger and heftier Niraj Puran Rao — a decision which raised eyebrows from both teams.
“I appreciated the courage that Eugene stepped up, but when I tried to reflect on the logic, option number one is we really wanted to give Eugene a chance, or there’s another option that is a strategic move, and I know that Louie’s a smart and strategic competitor,” said Irina Chadsey, who was then part of Team Valor in the challenge.
Jessica Ramella agreed, saying, “I do believe that perhaps Louie was also trying to be supportive of Eugene. Eugene was excited to fight, he loves this, and he’s passionate, but at the same time, it is both Eugene and Louie’s job to protect Team Valor, so I was very surprised. I think it was a silly move.”
Mind-boggling as it was, Eugene did make Louie proud as he scored the victory over Niraj and gave the win to Team Valor.
For his part, Sangalang simplified it down to a matter of martial arts honor, saying that, “I don’t think there’s any honor in fighting a white belt.”
Even ONE Championship chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong questioned the decision, arguing that although he understood the logic, there’s a way for Sangalang to still go at it with Puran Rao in an “honorable manner.”
“I would have fought in a way that was risk-free for Niraj and myself and just mounted him and just stayed there. As a purple belt, there’s many ways to fight and I would not have risked it against a low level white belt,” he said.
More than his decision to sit out the grappling task, Sangalang’s motives were further questioned when it was him who proposed for Chung to take the role of project manager for the business task which asked both teams to create an advertorial to promote awareness of wildlife contribution by the Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS).
“You were able to redeem yourself with the physical task and you’re riding that very high morale. So maybe there’s another way for you to redeem yourself,” Louie told Eugene. “It’s time for you to unleash your greatness.”
Convinced, Team Valor gave the keys to Chung.
“Louie suggested me to be the PM, and it does make sense that life is all about momentum. So this is probably the best time for me to step up to be PM again to prove that I can actually manage a team and not mess up as badly as I did last time,” said Eugene.
Nevertheless, it had its fair share of doubters.
“I think it’s a strategic move by Louie. I think Louie just wanted to put Eugene in a position where he’s either gonna make it or break it, and I truly believe that Louie thinks Eugene is going to break it,” remarked Monica Millington.
The same sentiments were also felt in Team Conquest.
“I’m still not 100-percent confident that he’s telling me the truth,” said Chadsey. “I have all the respect for Louie, but in a strategic perspective, he’s very clever. I’m not accusing Louie doing something wrong but perhaps I would not play mind games like he does. Eugene is in danger.”
Kexin Ye added, “Knowing Louie nominated Eugene to be a project manager just fits absolutely into the image that I have of Louie, to be honest. Louie is a super strategic person and I don’t trust him.”
These fears proved to be true as Team Valor lost the business task, most evidently for his poor leadership skills with Sangalang, Millington, and Paulina Purnomowati all pointing at him as the weakest link.
“It was actually the three of us working together and caring for a child,” Sangalang said in a bitter realization of his judgment in entrusting the reins to Chung. “Eugene, being my teammate, has been through a lot of rough times starting from the first week. To be honest, I really wanted Eugene to redeem himself and prove that he’s not a quitter.”
Unfortunately, it was a gamble that eventually cost Chung his spot in the competition.
It truly was an eye-opener, not just for Sangalang, but for the seven other remaining candidates that in this high-stakes game of business competitions and physical challenges — all for the prize of a US$250,000 job offer to work as Sityodtong’s protégé and chief of staff at the ONE Championship Global Headquarters in Singapore for a year — one must always do what is right.
“Leadership has everything to do with serving your team to the best of your ability, and most importantly, doing what is right. So I strongly encourage you to reflect on this lesson, that a leader must serve his or her team’s needs by doing what is right. Not what is easiest, but what is right,” he said.
As for Sangalang, he’s well aware of the stakes and understands that it is on him to make the right decisions to truly be hailed as “the one.”
“The key to winning is in yourself. I want to prove to Chatri that I deserve to be the one,” he said.
The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition 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 be 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).