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Would you want to be Apprentice to Flavio Briatore?
Darren Heath
Posted By: James Allen  |  18 Sep 2012   |  6:45 pm GMT  |  66 comments

[Updated] On the theme of television, former F1 team boss Flavio Briatore is the central character in the Italian version of “The Apprentice” – a reality series which has been a hit in the UK with entrepreneur Alan Sugar.

The Italian series begins tonight (18th September) at 9pm on Cielo channel in Italy. Briatore will mentor around 14 young go-getters who want to get ahead in business. The idea is that each week he sets them a business task and then fires the one who performs the worst until he is left with the winner, who will become his Apprentice for a year.

Air Asia and Caterham F1 boss Tony Fernandes has been approached to do something similar in his native Malaysia.

Briatore, who rose to prominence with the Benetton group, came into F1 in 1989 and oversaw F1 world championships with Michael Schumacher (1994/5) and Fernando Alonso (2005/6).

He is still serving a ban from motor sport for his part in the Crashgate scandal which rocked F1 in 2009, when Nelson Piquet Junior admitted deliberately crashing his car in a hard to reach place during the inaugural Singapore Grand Prix of 2008, causing a safety car deployment which worked in the favour of his then Renault team mate Alonso. Alonso won the race.

The ensuing scandal led indirectly to Renault withdrawing from the sport as a works team as well as a ban for Briatore and Pat Symonds, the director of engineering.

Those bans will expire at the end of the 2012 season.

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  1. Greg says:

    In short, No I wouldn’t

  2. KGBVD says:

    The things you could learn from this man in a year. He would make you a millionaire, make you famous, but would also make you stab your friend in the back and lie to your mother.

    Him and Bernie are by far the most interesting ppl in F1, and I would give anything to work for either of them (even if it involved being on Italian TV!)

    1. Wayne says:

      Agreed, it would be absolutely fascinating, definitely educational and probably lucrative. No-one makes you do anything, should you be put in a moral dilema, the fact is you have a choice, even if it is a diffult one. It’s dificult to judge people’s choices without being completely familiar with the facts.

      I’d live to work for either of them too. I’d probably prefer Bernie though!

      Piquet Jnr tried to paint himself as a victim in the crashgate scenario – ‘the wide-eyed innocent forced to doing something he did not want to do by the big bad wolf’. I don’t subscribe to this. With his experience and family history, he knew all about how F1 has worked in the past going in.

      1. Sebee says:


        Are you serious? Do you know what it means to have power river someone? Over their destiny, their dream? I’m taking about absolute power. Do you think it is easy to say “no” to that person? Singapore was 99% Flavio’s fault and doing. Piqued was a remote controlled robot.

        Piquet made only two mistakes in his F1 life. 1. Picking Flavio as his manager when the spot for the driver he would direct to the top was already taken. 2. Telling the world about Singapore. If he didn’t he would still be driving in F1. But obviously by then he realized that his king maker was never interested in making him king. His manager, his team principal were one and used that power and conflict of interest to ruin a championship, stain the sport, and take down a whole bunch of people while at it.

      2. Wayne says:

        One of his mistakes was not to deliberately crash his car then? That was the correct choice right?

        Justify it any way you want and it was still the wrong choice!

      3. KGBVD says:


        Piquet is weak: both as a driver and character. He knew exactly what he was doing, both when he steered into the wall (Pat Symond’s idea of brilliance, btw), and when he blabbed about it (his father’s idea of playing hardball).

        And he certainly wouldn’t still be in F1. The sport doesn’t need any more semi-talented well funded, whinging Brazilians. Brighter lights than him have been turned away.

        And the 2008 season was already ruined by the F1 ludicrous actions in Spa. If anything, Piquet evened the score (but then again let’s not forget that Massa also drove away with fuel rig attached, failing to capitalize).

      4. Sebee says:


        Yeah, he had a choice in the matter I’m sure. Let’s recap how that conversation about choices went, shall we?

        Hey Jr., things have not been going well for Renault lately, and we need to bring in a win for the team. You need to crash to get the other car to the front. Do it and you can stay for next year.

        Oh, you’re welcome not to do it. But you’re out of F1 after this GP, Flavio will drop you as Manager, and whoever you tell about this – we’ll deny it. Meaning our integrity as stand-up dudes will be intact and the world will never know what we’re capable of doing.

        He did the only right thing. His actions were the evidence needed to prove the whole thing.

      5. Wayne says:


        What? Were you in the motorhome at the time? It’s silly to present an opinion as fact. It’s just as plausible that, in an attempt to make up for his shocking performance that season, the guy suggested the idea to Briatore who ran with it. Or they worked the idea up together.

        Truth is you have NO idea how this was planned and agreed. What we DO know is that this kid crashed his car deliberately endangering his life and the lives of others, interfereing with the one of the most highly watched sporting championships in the world. But that apparently was not the wrong choice?

        And, as usual, you ask me ‘are you serious?’

      6. Sebee says:


        Let’s say Jr. proposed it to Flavio and Pat – you know what the response should have been? “You’re out of your mind. Your off the team.” They are the gate keepers and are supposed to prevent this type of crap from taking place.

        Bottom line, if Flavio/Pat proposed it – they should never be in F1 again. If Jr. proposed it and they allowed it, they should never be in F1 again.

        Since I highly doubt that someone would put their safety at risk without being forced into it by those with power, authority, and control over their F1 carrier and contracts, I highly doubt that Nelson Jr. cooked up such a plan. And if we are really to believe that Alonso knew nothing of it, then Nelson couldn’t have cooked up the plan – because if he did Alonso would have known about it and been a willing participant from the momement the plan was hatched. Are you now onboard with me in believing that Alonso was fully aware of this? Perhaps it was he who suggested it to Flavio? :-)

      7. Tim says:

        Piquet Jr. was/is not a “weak” individual. It’s just that he’s like the overwhelmingly vast majority of people, who, when put into a “weak position” by their boss(es), are not willing to put their jobs/dreams on the line for a principle. It is briatore and symonds who are the WEAK ones. And make no mistake about it. They used their position of power to all but force an individual to do bend to their will. happens everyday, sadly. Bullies. Cowards. And yet look who is still around in F1 and the least guilty of all parties is “run out of time. SICK! GROTESQUELY SICK!


  3. Rich B says:

    the most [mod] man in f1 mentor’s young business wannabees, fabulously funny, piquet jr should be a contestant

  4. Seán Craddock says:

    The Apprentice originated in the US with Donald Trump actually

    I hope there’s a version with English subtitles available! Would be nice to see what Flavio’s like away from F1 :)

    1. Wayne says:

      Same as he is in F1, he’s still on the TV afterall all.

  5. JR says:

    You say: “The Apprentice – a reality series which originated in the UK with entrepreneur Alan Sugar.”

    It actually originated in the USA with Donald Trump.

  6. nenslo says:

    The Apprentice? Originated in the UK? With Alan Sugar?

    I think Donald Trump might have something to say about that!

    1. JTW says:

      To many sites, Great Britain is the centre of the F1, and several other sports, universe. This carries over to a general thinking where Canada, Australia, and yes, even the US are still ‘colonies’.

  7. Val from montreal says:

    Briatore and the Kardashians should get together and make their own sitcom called : nobody in the world gives a crap about us

    1. Wayne says:

      Special Guest Star: Max Mosely!

    2. Lawrence says:

      Haha. Wayne I think you’re wrong, I think Mosley is a class act.

  8. Andrew Barker says:

    An apprentice to Flavio? Not a chance he might be scared i do things properly without cutting corners !!!

    1. Steve says:

      that’s your choice. but there is a big grey area between black and white

      1. Andrew Barker says:

        True thing is i just don’t trust him.

      2. Tim says:

        WOW! JUST WOW! Please define the grey/gray area in question. A Team principal and the Manager of a driver offers said driver, what is in fact a “Hobson’s Choice.” Do something WRONG/UNETHICAL/IMMORAL & ILLEGAL (if injury to a spectator/marshall/other driver occured, it most certainly would have resulted in a Legal/Criminal Negligence lawsuit)! Or your career in F1 is history. And look what the results have been. Sordid. Tolerance of uncivilized behavior is what causes soooo many problems in the world today. Some posters on here are scary.


  9. franed says:

    Banned again for no apparent reason?

  10. I wonder if this will turn out to be ‘car crash TV’ !!??

      1. CNSZU says:

        You don’t like him, do you?

      2. James Allen says:

        I have never had any problems with him, some very amusing conversations in fact

        Just reporting the facts

  11. Nigel says:

    About as much as I’d want to be apprenticed to Alan Sugar.

  12. Pman says:

    Would I want to apprentice under Flavio
    Heck yes!

  13. Duffy says:

    Sign me up! I’d rather be an apprentice to Flavio Briatore than that douchebag Donald Trump!!!

  14. Sebee says:

    Flavio, doing some PR work to be ready to be the next Ferrari team principal!

  15. john gill says:

    No thanks.

  16. "Martin" says:

    So what happens if one of them cheat ?
    And why don’t they use Berlusconi as well ?
    Only in Italy, eh ?
    Or, ehm, I never watched any of the UK / US ones, (except for bit of Trump, but only because I met him 32+ years ago, before he become outrageously rich and famous ),
    so are ‘ours’ honest or just anything goes for ‘light entertainment’ ?

  17. kp says:

    Oh James, attention to detail please!

    The Apprentice originated in the USA with Donald Trump as the star. The UK copied the format and used the latterly ennobled Alan Sugar.

  18. Gary Honey says:

    Lord Sugar needn’t lose any sleep. That said I’d love to see an episode, just to watch the Candidates arriving late, doing 45 minutes work and then going on strike.

  19. Elie says:

    Not sure you can learn from someone you can’t trust – I have no idea why the Courts overturned his ban to begin with.A real pity because despite his fraudulent past he was quite visionary particularly with his belief that F1 needed to be more of a show- which is something everyone in the paddock is talking about now ! He also dropped Button for Alonso very early on (2003) and that tells you he knows what he’s on about. Despite much criticism he said “time will tell if I’m wrong or right..” and he was definitely right. Fernando won two titles 2005/6.

    1. Onko says:

      You are spot on,two best drivers in recent
      times,Shue,and Alonso,his vision and smell
      of a raw talent top it off with a good
      management,just ask Mark Webber what he thinks
      of Flavio.
      We live in a modern times my friend, flamboyantcy and those who sign the cheques on
      the end of a day are happy is the name of a game. He once call button a light post.
      I wish he goes to Ferrari and replaces that
      wood-duck S.D.

      1. Elie says:

        More like Luca Di Montezemolo-anyone that would pay €34m to loose Raikkonen (& the endless lies leading up to it) is absolutely insane. Had they kept Alonso & Raikkonen who could touch Ferrari.

  20. Elie says:

    Heaven help me that was “someone ” not “swine”. Damn spell check!

  21. Paul L says:

    Is Piquet Jnr one of the contestants?

  22. JohnBt says:

    Does turn 17 ring a bell? But hell I’m sure one can learn from this businessman. Find me a highly successful entrepreneur who’s not ruthless.

    1. Spyros says:

      There’s being ruthless and there’s being an unapologetic, unrepentant, defiant [mod].

  23. Tim says:

    Never! I trust him as far as I can throw a piano. Crossing my fingers
    and screaming – Back Dracula! Back, back, back, back!


    1. Enzo says:

      It’s strictly business Timmy, nothing personal.
      But tonight, you sleep with the fishes ;)

    2. KGBVD says:

      Would garlic work on an Italian vampire?

  24. Spyros says:

    This raises an interesting question: in a CV, would the entry “Apprenticeship under by Flavio Briatore” be a really good thing, or would it scare people away?

    I’d rather wait for the programme to start back up in the UK, hopefully with Ron Dennis..?

    1. Bru72 says:

      Ron Dennis? He was in charge when McLaren were caught cheating, in posession of all Ferrari’s design drawings and data.

  25. Bart says:

    Well, according to Mark Webber Flavio is not as bad as the press say: “I’ve had Flavio looking after me for 11 years I have never looked at the contract from the day I signed it, and there’s not many other people in the paddock you could say that about. I won’t work with anyone else in the future if I can’t work with him.”

  26. CJM says:

    Surprised no-one has commented on Flavio’s starring role in the documentary he himself commissioned, about how he and his co-investors ran Queen’s Park Rangers. Amazing television. He came across as an ignorant, self-obsessed, sociopath. A truly horrible man.

    His apprentice program could be amusing though. I’m imagining not board room firings, but one of candidates waking up in their shared house with a horse’s head in their bed, leaving the house in a blacked-out Maserati Quattroporte, only to find out the chaffeur is Piquet Jr.

  27. Gord says:

    As long as I don’t have to see the thong, I wouldn’t mind being his apprentice.

  28. SP says:

    James, does this mean Pat Symonds will be making a return to the sport with Lotus for 2013? Or any other team?

    1. James Allen says:

      He’s a consultant now at Marussia and yes he will be back in 2013

      1. P. Schnabel says:

        What about Flav? Do you see him coming back?

  29. Kit says:

    All of the contestants would be fired if an assignment requires them to snag a partner 1/3 of their age. It wouldn’t make past legal age….

  30. Lawrence says:

    I’d love to. The man comes across like a wing-nut and even if I didn’t learn anything or earn any money the craic would be mighty. I hope we get to see some of this. He’s gonna make a success of it. Imagine the treats the candidates will get, I reckon Briatore knows how to enjoy himself more than Trump or Sugar. The bookies will not be taking bets as to which one of them will get fired but which one of the women Briatore will get pregnant first haha :)Bellissimo

  31. Ben G says:

    Tells us all we need to know about the Italian economy…

  32. Matt W says:

    I wish this man wasn’t given publicity like this. He did incredible harm to F1 with perhaps the worst cheating plot ever conceived in the sport.

    That he still seems to be reported about with some affection is saddening. This isn’t a dig at you James as I find your reports to be factual, but the F1 media in general.

  33. IgMi says:

    I would rather work in an F1 garage. It would be great for JAonF1 to report those job openings as well.

  34. Rich C says:

    Absolutely I would!
    I want to learn his secrets for getting chicks. Have you seen the ones he goes out with??

  35. It’s funny – I used to know someone who won the UK Apprentice, and I used to know someone who worked at one of Flavio’s Billionaire club in Sardinia and then was transferred to manage one of his London establishments…

    Based on both their anecdotes, I’d rather have Flavio as a boss all day long – by all accounts a true gent to work for…

  36. snailtrail says:

    James any chance/news Briatore and Pat Symonds would return to F1?

  37. kbdavies says:

    Ditto. I have met Flavio a couple of times at his club/resteaurant in Sardinia, and even had the pleasure of spending some time on his yacht. All i can say is the guy is charming, entertaining and great to be around. Yes, he can be loud, brash and garrulous sometimes, but being italian, it just seems to increase his appeal.

    I also know the managers who run Billionaire in Sardinia, and they have nothing but effusive praise for him as a boss; but then again, working the Italian way is quite unlike any other..

  38. Tim says:

    Notwithstanding the stray anecdote re: briatore, I’ll remind all of a well-worn, however, oh so true phrase, “form is temporary, class is permanent.” A word to the wise is sufficient.


  39. Geoff Norman says:

    There’s no way I’d have anything to do with Briatore. Much as I love Italy and the Italians – I’m sitting in our garden in Umbria as I enter this – the questionable examples of humanity that take part in the UK version are nothing like as obnoxious as the specimens that are likely to to turn up L’apprendista.


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