You're hired: plumber wins Arabian 'Apprentice'

30-year-old from Somerset to swap cisterns for interior design after scooping $1m contract from Arabian Sir Alan
Click to follow
The Independent Culture

Global strategists, international sales executives and intergalactic egos beware. A female plumber from Somerset has won an Arabian version of The Apprentice, and with it a £335,000 prize.

Hannah Dodkin, 30, from Polsham in the West Country, was working for a small property development firm in London before deciding last year to enter Hydra Executives, an Abu Dhabi-based version of the global hit TV show.

Originally eliminated in round nine of 15, Ms Dodkin negotiated her way back into the final as a wildcard entry by convincing producers and candidates she was the best. She proved them right, and was picked as joint winner to share the first prize of $1m with an American architect. She will invest her share in setting up her own interior design venture in the Middle East.

The show pitted two teams of eight British and eight American entrepreneurs against one another, and was created by billionaire property developer Dr Sulaimain al Fahim, CEO of Hydra Properties, who made headlines in the UK last year by buying Manchester City. Dr Fahim also took the Alan Sugar role in the show, which tailored the tasks for the property developers.

So what do plumbers know about property development? Ms Dodkin, speaking from Abu Dhabi, said: "One thing about plumbing is that if you've got to get through a wall to get to your pipes you can't go round it, you've got to go through it. You can't stop at anything. The ethics of plumbing are straightforward. You need determination."

How useful these characteristics will be for a female executive in the Middle East is not immediately obvious. Ms Dodkin admits: "It can be challenging at times. You have to be strategic in how you play things. Know when to shut up and when to apply pressure. Be aggressive, but not too much. But that's a good idea whether you're male or female."

With her new busy executive lifestyle, Ms Dodkin hasn't seen any of this year's English version, but advises the candidates: "Tell people what you think. Be yourself and be true to yourself."

Hydra Executives is just one of over 20 versions of the hit TV show worldwide. Filming for season two is well underway, which will see teams of Indian and Pakistanis vie for the top prize.

Other versions include the Brazilian O Aprendiz, in which two candidates have already been hired by marketing businessman Roberto Justus on a salary of 1 million reals, almost £340,000. In the Netherlands, Season 1 winner Nienke Hoogervorst has taken up his role working for flamboyant lawyer Bram Moszkowicz, a man who has defended Surinamese coup leader and convicted cocaine trafficker Desi Bouterse. The winner of the Russian version takes a 3 million rouble salary, about £60,000. For so many of the other not so lucky ones, it's "Olet vapautettu" (Finnish: "You're Fired"), "Sie Haben Frie" (German: "You are excused") or the rather brutal Turkish, "Seninle çalismak istemiyorum!" – literally, "I do not want to work with you!"