A suite of versatile Twilio solutions bring the audience closer to the action and help candidates drive social good

Last year, The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition worked with Twilio to become the show’s exclusive technology partner. Described as the toughest version of The Apprentice franchise yet, the show invited 16 candidates handpicked from around the world for a chance to win a US$250,000 job offer to work directly under ONE Chairman and CEO Chatri Sityodtong as his Chief of Staff and protégé in business.

To create a viewer experience that matches up to the candidates’ aspirations, the show producers worked with Twilio toward an ambitious goal. As the first-ever global edition of The Apprentice, they needed a technology partner that could help them connect and engage with a diverse audience tuning in from across Asia Pacific, where the show was first broadcast on cable television.

They were also keen to explore how Twilio’s comprehensive suite of solutions could be incorporated into its weekly business challenges and bring out candidates’ full creative potential.

After consulting Twilio’s solutions engineering and expert developers, the producers decided to use Twilio’s solutions to supercharge the show in three key ways: facilitating Chatri’s communication with the candidatesenhancing audience engagement with the show; and to solve communications challenges faced by non-governmental organisations (NGOs)through a business challenge tailored around using Twilio’s solutions.

Engaging with candidates

As the Chairman and CEO of a billion-dollar global sports media property, Chatri could not always be present to supervise the candidates at every activity. At the same time, the candidates had their own preferences when it came to messaging on their devices.

Chatri needed a simple and seamless way of communicating with the candidates whenever he needed to without jumping through hoops or juggling multiple messaging apps.

To overcome this hurdle, Twilio provided him with the world’s most universal messaging platform: SMS. Using Twilio’s SMS messaging APIs, Chatri had a seamless platform to reach out to the candidates no matter where he sent the message from – whether it was to share a set of instructions or to motivate them for the intense challenges.

“As CEO of one of the world’s largest sports properties, no two days are the same. With Twilio’s APIs, I was able to engage the participants seamlessly, mentor them, and keep track of their progress whenever I had a few minutes of time in-between meetings.” – Chatri Sityodtong, Chairman and CEO, ONE

Keeping the audience on the edge of their seats
The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition premiered on cable television channels across the region, with episodes airing weekly. To keep the audience engaged after every show and excited for the next episode, the team devised a “Watch and Win” game on Facebook messenger, designed with the implementation of Twilio Autopilot and Twilio Functions.

At the end of each live episode, audiences were shown a QR code inviting them to participate in a weekly quiz. The code led them to a Facebook Messenger chat, where they received a question that included a phrase that was said during the week’s episode.

Participants who answered correctly were then asked for their personal details, such as their name, email address, and consent to the terms of the competition. Thanks to Twilio Autopilot, the show could easily train a chatbot to understand natural language, give answers, and collect data, so that viewers could join the contest as if they were talking to a real person, instead of having to fill in a long online questionnaire.

“There were several challenges we faced in planning for a show amid a pandemic. Varying levels of social and physical restrictions across the Asia Pacific region meant that we weren’t able to host promotional roadshows and physical activations as we would normally do. We had to think of novel digital ways to keep the audience engaged throughout the season. The Watch and Win game Twilio helped us develop provided us with a platform to interact with audiences, universally.” – Charmaine Wong, Senior Vice President, Client Success, ONE.

Driving social good with Twilio

Episode 11 was the pinnacle of Twilio’s involvement as the show’s official technology partner. In this episode, the final four candidates – Jessica, Louie, Irina, and Monica – were tasked to help NGOs transform their communication strategies using Twilio technology and solutions.

Irina and Monica were assigned to work with Habitat for Humanity Singapore, which rehabilitates flats in Singapore for vulnerable families. Jessica and Louie were to work with LOVE, NILS, a charity that provides families fighting cancer with healthcare guidance, emotional care, as well as social and community support.

In just 36 hours, both teams had to build and present a solution that streamlines the communication strategy of their assigned non-profit organisation using the Twilio platform.

Despite not having any prior experience with coding, software development, or Twilio itself, both teams embraced the challenge with enthusiasm and devised solutions that impressed all the judges, including Twilio co-founder and CEO Jeff Lawson himself, who joined the challenge as a guest judge.

Team Irina and Monica noted that communications at Habitat for Humanity were static and disconnected. As a result, they decided to utilise Twilio flex to develop a proof of concept for streamlining donor communications. Twilio Flex is a fully programmable contact center that allows developers to build an agent experience that makes for a much better customer experience.

Through a contact center that loads and edits existing customer data from Habitat for Humanity’s CRM system to the all-on-one contact center platform, Irina and Monica were able to provide a highly personalised experience for donors.

And to captivate potential donors from their first activities on the Habitat for Humanity website, they built an interactive chatbot using Twilio Autopilot, which was trained to understand natural language, give answers, collect data and, if necessary, connect to live human representatives.

“Coming from a background in real estate without any formal training in coding, I was a bit overwhelmed when I first heard the brief for this challenge. But as we got on, we realised just how accessible and scalable Twilio’s solutions are for businesses, even for someone without extensive knowledge of coding” – Irina Chadsey, semi-finalist, The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition

Meanwhile, Team Jessica and Louie decided that community was crucial to overcoming the isolation children with cancer and parents face. With the help of Twilio developers, they built a proof of concept called Nils Pals, which aimed to connect families with others who understood what they were going through.

This came in the form of a chatbot to guide families to reach out and connect with the LOVE, NILS community and Twilio Video to bring them together face-to-face, providing the opportunity for the community to offer the support that they identified was so lacking.

“Successful business leaders recognise that they have a duty to serve their communities, and are committed to drive initiatives that give back to society. In episode 11, I wanted to test the finalists’ ability to empathise with the mission of their respective NGOs, in order to implement practical solutions that drive impact. Twilio was the perfect partner for this challenge, as their products offer seamless, easy-to-implement solutions for NGOs – who do not always have the luxuries of hiring a developer team.”

– Chatri Sityodtong, Chairman and CEO, ONE

The team’s ability to devise a proof of concept within 36 hours of their meeting with Twilio developers is a testament to how easy it is to understand and implement Twilio’s various solutions. Both teams also remarked at its compatibility with the existing processes and systems at both NGOs, signalling at the potential of Twilio’s platform in playing its part to solve pressing social issues of today.

“At the start of the episode, I challenged the participants to express their creativity by implementing solutions that drive the most impact for their assigned NGOs. I was impressed by what the contestants were able to come up with in such a short span of time. They exemplified the ease of use of Twilio’s suite of solutions and their potential to help NGOs build meaningful moments with their audiences.”

– Jeff Lawson, CEO, Twilio

Sustaining customer engagement beyond the season finale
The Apprentice: ONE Championship Edition has ended its live broadcast run, but the show continues to charge forward on Netflix. Since its debut on the global streaming platform in February 2022, it has become one of the top streamed shows on Netflix in many Asia and Europe markets.

Building on the success of this collaboration, ONE Championship is currently exploring other avenues to tap into the power of Twilio to support its growth as one of the world’s biggest sports media properties, connecting to fans from all over the world and all walks of life.

“One of the biggest differentiators of Twilio’s platform is its ease of use. We enable anyone to build solutions that address their unique business requirements and challenges, even if they’re completely new to our technology” said Phil Nash, Developer Evangelist, Twilio. “We’re heartened to see the candidates embrace the challenge with enthusiasm and build a proof of concept that brings their vision to life in such a short period of time, potentially driving real impact for these NGOs in the long run.”