Sexwale SA's Donald Trump

Cape Town - SABC3 has put out a search for contestants to take part in a local version of the hit reality TV show The Apprentice.

And Tokyo Sexwale has been chosen to play executive chairperson, the role played by real-estate mogul Donald Trump in the original series. Currently in its third edition, The Apprentice is one of the leading reality TV shows in the US.

Sexwale was delighted to chair "this important educational programme" for the stimulation and development of business ideas and entrepreneurship as many South Africans turns to business.

He said The Apprentice has its own importance for the enhancement of entrepreneurship in South Africa and "we'll have to do it the South African way with African characteristics".

But this might just be the biggest challenge for the show directors.

"You're fired" not acceptable?

Where it was easy for Trump to utter the punchline - "You're fired", South Africans will just have to wait and see how this charismatic business leader will deal with this infringement on South Africa's stringent labour laws.

The "inhumane" treatment of contestants already drew widespread criticism from labour unions in other countries where the show took on a local form.

Head of programming at SABC3, Hannelie Bekker, said the TV station was attracted to The Apprentice for the way it combines nail biting entertainment with real social value.

"We know that South Africans hold business achievement in high regard, and see it as key to a progressive and successful country," she said.

Sexwale's exposure to both politics and business might just be enough to make for riveting South African entertainment.

Sexwale, who gave up politics for business in 1998, is CEO of Mvelaphanda Holdings, a leading black managed and owned investment company. The company is primarily a mining and energy house including, but has other strategic investments in hotels, transportation, telecommunications, property, engineering, health, banking and financial services.

Sharpen business skills

He said: "We are part of the global village and need to develop and sharpen our business skills in order to compete in a highly competitive global market.

"I see The Apprentice as a vehicle to raise awareness and sharpen the skills of our own entrepreneurs and look forward to unearthing some bright young talent," Sexwale told SABC3.

The Apprentice is a 16-episode unscripted drama in which sixteen candidates comes to the heart of the city of gold, Johannesburg, to face the challenge of their lives with the hope of winning a sizeable salary and a leading position in one of Sexwale's companies.

Contestants must be between the ages of 22 and 35, be available full time between April 8 2005 to May 27 2005 and September 15 - 22 and able to attend auditions in either Cape Town, Durban, Port Elizabeth or Johannesburg.

Qualifications are not essential.

To enter viewers must call 083-913 3333.

The Apprentice is expected to hit television screens in June 2005.

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