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Would you want to be Apprentice to Flavio Briatore?
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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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.


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.



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..


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


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…


Absolutely I would!

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


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


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.


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


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


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….


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


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


What about Flav? Do you see him coming back?


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


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.


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.”


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..?


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


Never! I trust him as far as I can throw a piano. Crossing my fingers


and screaming – Back Dracula! Back, back, back, back!



Would garlic work on an Italian vampire?


It’s strictly business Timmy, nothing personal.

But tonight, you sleep with the fishes 😉


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.


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


Is Piquet Jnr one of the contestants?


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


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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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’ ?




No thanks.

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