Should it be Gavin, Morello or Heather?
That’s the question Mark Bouris has had to contemplate this week in the lead-up to the finale of The Apprentice Australia.
All three were still in the running after Monday night’s penultimate episode.
“Anyone of those three could do the job. They have the skill and ability to do the job. Which one is the right one is another issue,” Bouris told TV Tonight.
“40% of people say to me it should be Gavin, 40% say Morello and the balance say Heather. And I have one response to that: it’s a bit like the Melbourne Cup –you’ve got to watch who the bolters are at the end of the game.
“All the challenges up to Challenge #9 become irrelevant. It comes down to how they all perform when it really counts. You’re only as good as your last challenge. Their personalities all change when they know it’s right down to the wire. And the last episode is a ripper.”
Bouris will appoint one to a 12 month, six figure salary executive position in his financial advisory company, Yellow Brick Road. He has already filmed two endings for the finale, which airs on Monday night. But only one will go to air.
“There’s two people right now who think that they’ve won. I will give one of the edits the go ahead,” he says.
Bouris says he shot a pilot of the Aussie adaptation 18 months ago after being approached by FremantleMedia.
“I didn’t think much more about it, but my long-standing position at General Electric came to an end, which was an amicable arrangement. All I was doing was running Yellow Brick Road, which is my wealth business, and I had a bit of spare time. I got a call from Channel Nine to say they were interested in doing the show and Fremantle said, ‘Do you want to do it?’ so I thought ‘Why not?’” he says.
“How often do you get an opportunity to do something like that on television?”
Bouris says he didn’t dwell too much on whether to take up the role, despite it being in Reality Television.
“I prefer to say ‘Why not do something?’ as opposed to saying ‘Why do something?’ So I thought I’ll just take the consequences as they come.
“It has impacted on my life is some respects, in that it’s ramped up people’s awareness of me. But people have been pretty nice, I haven’t had any dramas with it.”
His friendship with Nine CEO David Gyngell didn’t harm the decision-making either.
“David and I have been great mates for a long time, but I don’t think that had any impact on whether he did the show or not. He took the show on its own merits. But at the same time it helps that he knows me and I’m a known entity in that regard so it’s probably a little less risk.”
With its franchises in 25 different countries, Bouris had to adhere to the structure and hallmarks of the series, created by Mark Burnett.
“You have to abide by the franchise, there are certain things whilst you may not want to do it, you have to do it, because that’s the structure of the show,” he said. “For example to say ‘You’re fired.’ That’s a big one, but it’s not all that Australian. But it doesn’t really matter because it’s part of the show, and frankly the candidates in the show know what they’re in for.”
He says an Australian boss would be a less blunt in dismissing staff.
“‘Sorry mate there’s no place here for you anymore,’ or ‘The job’s outgrown you’ or something like that,” he says.
“That’s more Australian. We sort of beat around the bush a bit.”
The winning Apprentice will work closely with Bouris advisor Brad, Head of Distribution for Yellowbrick Road. They will become Head of Business Development, opening up branches across Australia. They must understand Bouris’ strategy rollout, which he says is being tested via the Apprentice challenges.
“It’s about how to get from A to Z, having a strategy and getting it done in a hurry. If you look at the challenges there’s been a common denominator in every one of them and that’s it. ‘This is what I tell you to do, this is what I want you to do, get in and do it.’”
In keeping with the Apprentice format, Bouris has been segregated from the contestants throughout the filming.
“If I walk into the studio and they happen to be sitting somewhere they get taken away or I get blocked. I can’t even make eye contact with anybody other than in the Board Room or at the beginning of the challenge,” he says.
With the exception of one challenge, that has resulted in him watching how the contestants interact when he watches the episodes air on Monday nights. But he does admit to tuning into the TV Shopping Network ahead of shooting a Board Room scene. He got quite a shock to stumble onto the contestants giving their live to air presentations as part of a weekly challenge, trying to sell clothes accessories and carpet cleaners.
“And there in front of me on the ground is Morello with the shit stain on the carpet. I couldn’t believe it. I sat back and I watched it. It was very funny.
“But I never spoke to one candidate up until I had dinner with the remaining candidates before the final challenge. Not even eye contact or ‘G’day how you going?’”
And as for a second series, Bouris has good news for Nine.
“I’d be interested in doing it again,” he says. “I guess it depends on the ratings and whether they make any money out of it. That’s their call but it’s not really my game. I was doing it to have the experience of it and promoting Yellow Brick Road where I could, although I haven’t really done it in a cheesy way.
“If Nine came to me and said ‘Would I do it again?’ the answer to that is ‘Yes.’
“I had fun doing it and I have to say a lot of fun watching it.”
The Apprentice Australia finale airs 9:30pm Monday on Nine.