British man trumps the competition to win US 'Apprentice'

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A British businessman has triumphed in the US version of The Apprentice. In the final programme, the billionaire Donald Trump told Sean Yazbeck, a 33-year-old Londoner: "You're hired."

As well as a six-figure salary working for the Trump Organisation in New York, the recruitment consultant, who has lived in Miami for six years, won a Pontiac G6 car.

Over the course of 15 weeks, Mr Yazbeck was pitted against 17 other hopefuls in the reality television contest. Each week, the contestants must perform a business-related task, after which the poorest performer is fired.

Summing up the experience, Mr Yazbeck told The Miami Herald: "Always go with your gut instinct. That's the main thing I got from it."

After gaining a first-class degree from Southampton Solent University, Mr Yazbeck brokered multimillion-dollar deals with companies in more than 20 locations around the world, and is the director of business development at a Stock Exchange-registered recruitment consultancy. He moved to the US in 1999 and last year was given a green card for "persons of extraordinary ability".

In the final of the fifth US series of The Apprentice, Mr Yazbeck competed against Lee Bienstock, a 22-year-old business analyst from Brooklyn.

His task was to stage a Barenaked Ladies concert to raise money for the conservation charity WWF, while Mr Bienstock was charged with holding a celebrity hockey tournament in aid of New York City firefighters.

While Mr Bienstock failed to greet Mr Trump when he entered the hockey arena and did not provide a sufficient level of comfort for VIP guests, Mr Yazbeck proved his colours by remembering to meet Mr Trump with a warm welcome when he stepped off his helicopter.

Before the series started, Mr Yazbeck commented: "My goal is to become a millionaire. And who better from which to learn the art of the deal than from Mr Trump?"

He may have won in love as well as in life, after becoming close to his fellow contestant Tammy Trenta. When asked by Mr Trump if he was going to marry her, he replied: "Yes".

Although the fifth series was filmed in New York, the final took place at the Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles, where series six, starting in January 2007, will also be filmed.

Ratings were slightly down compared to the fourth season, falling from an average 11 million viewers a week to 9.7million.

In an attempt to increase viewing figures, The Apprentice 5 borrowed an idea from American Idol, allowing viewers to vote in the final. Devised by the British-born television producer Mark Burnett, The Apprentice made its debut on American television in 2004, when the cigar salesman Bill Rancic won a job working for Mr Trump. Last year, NBC launched a spin-off version of the show fronted by the lifestyle guru Martha Stewart, following her release from a prison sentence for lying about share dealing.

The second series of the British version of The Apprentice, which was fronted by Sir Alan Sugar, ended last month when Michelle Dewberry, a former supermarket checkout girl from Hull, triumphed.