BEIJING — Donald Trump’s plans to bring reality skein “The Apprentice” to China have stalled after Pan Shiyi, the maverick Beijing property tycoon tipped to take the Trump role, pulled out.
Pan held talks with Trump’s reps and came to a verbal agreement in August but has changed his mind.
“The decision not to do the show was ours. We hadn’t signed a contract,” a spokeswoman for Pan’s Soho China told Daily Variety.
Pan’s profile would have been just right for a Chinese version of Trump’s show. The self-made property developer, who has been behind some of the more imaginative buildings peppering the Beijing skyline in recent years, is hugely popular in China.
He runs Soho China with his wife, Zhang Xin. A regular fixture in the society pages, the couple are often referred to as “the Trumps of Beijing.”
Plan was for Pan to present the show, which would offer 16 Chinese contestants battling in the boardroom over a range of business tasks. The prize would have been a high-flying job at Soho China.
The Chinese version of “The Apprentice” was expected to go head to head with “Wise Man Takes All,” which launched last month on Shanghai’s Dragon TV.
That skein was sponsored by another big name in Chinese property, Hong Kong tycoon Vincent Lo, who is involved in a legal row with Trump.