You're hired! AirAsia boss to host Apprentice

Malaysian aviation tycoon Tony Fernandes, founder of budget-travel giant AirAsia, will host the regional edition of the business-themed reality show The Apprentice, its producer said.

Like its US counterpart, the Asian edition will be an elimination-style competition with the eventual winner earning the right to be a paid apprentice to Fernandes.

"We are tremendously excited to have Tony on board," Devesh Chetty, chief executive of Singapore-based production firm RGM, said in a statement.

Advertisement: Story continues below "Not only is he a great and charismatic businessman; he is also a personality Asians have come to associate with worldwide success," he said.

Fernandes pioneered budget air travel in Asia when he launched AirAsia with just two planes in 2001.

It has grown to become the largest no-frills airline in Southeast Asia with a fleet of 93 planes and has plans to increase that to 500 aircraft by 2020 to meet surging demand for air travel, including long-haul flights to Europe.

The tycoon, known for his witty demeanour, also owns Formula One's Team Lotus.

"We'll see some of the most promising business talents in the region battle it out from the street to the boardroom," Fernandes, 47, said in the statement issued by the producer.

"I can't wait to throw some really interesting challenges their way so they can show the world what the new generation of Asian business executives are made of."

The reality show made its debut in the US in 2004 and was an instant hit, thanks in part to its host US real estate mogul Donald Trump's catchphrase: "You're fired!"

It was not immediately clear where the Asian edition of the channel would be broadcast. The production company said it would be making more announcements in due course.