The many sides of Cassie Roma. (Photos: TVNZ, Image: Tina Tiller)

10 buzzy things Cassie Roma told us about The Apprentice Aotearoa

Cassie Roma from The Apprentice Aotearoa reveals what really goes on in the boardroom, and assesses The Real Pod’s terrible business pitches. 

This month we were joined in The Real Pod boardroom by Cassie Roma, advisor on The Apprentice Aotearoa, to ask her everything we’ve ever wanted to know about the best reality-comedy show of the year so far. What is Mike Pero like in real life? What is she doodling in that notebook? And how real is all the drama? Listen to the full episode below, or read on for 10 revelations from our conversation.


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Cassie Roma watches. (Photo: TVNZ)

1) Mike Pero does a new ‘you’re fired’ point every week 

For weeks, speculation has been rife about the Pero point. How many variants are there? Is there a plastic hand involved? Why is it sometimes a jab motion and other times a swing motion? “First thing first: it’s a new point every week,” said Roma, who also confirmed there was some initial workshopping. “The first week we were asking ‘do we bring it over the top with the point, or do we do a rainbow arc? Do you use your elbow and pivot down?’” Another huge scoop: there was initially a prop involved. “Mike has this pen that looks like a sword, and at first he wanted to use the pen, but the contestants were terrified. So he put the pen down.”

2) She knew The Apprentice would end up as a comedy

As Duncan Greive wrote in his review, The Apprentice Aotearoa might be the local comedy of the year. What does Roma think? “A hundred and ten percent. Come on, it’s New Zealand. It’s a comedy,” she said. “I was never going to take myself too seriously – even though the resting boardroom face does not tell that tale.”

3) That Mally the Mallard marketing… worked?

In episode three, contestants were asked to come up with a new promotional campaign for Hamilton. Nicola came up with a charming mallard named Mally, inspired by her happy memories of going duck shooting. But according to Roma, it worked. “If you actually search Mally the Mallard on social media, it goes crazy. There are more Mally the Mallard hashtags than The Apprentice Aotearoa hashtags.”

4) The boardroom has hidden cameras 

Not only is Mike Pero’s boardroom actually a set, it has deftly concealed hidden cameras to capture the tension in the room. “You can’t see the cameras in the boardroom. They’re double-sided mirrors,” said Roma. “You forget there are cameras. So when I’m talking to Michael and I have my hand up and I’m going, ‘Gabe! Be quiet because you are saying a lot and meaning nothing’, we’re actually in that moment together.”

Cassie Roma, 100% absolutely taking notes. (Photo: TVNZ)

5) The mentors are actually writing notes

“In fact, we filled two full notebooks,” Roma told The Real Pod. “In the beginning, because Mike wasn’t there, we had to do our due diligence and go, ‘this is what happened, these are the people, this is how it played’ and then we had to download to Mike on the boardroom days.” As things wore on, she admitted the notes became a little less relevant, including “song lyrics, grocery lists, little doodles, and a note to my brother”.

6) The mentors can hear everything 

It may not be obvious on television, but both the advisors have earpieces in which allow them to hear what contestants are saying when they are out in the field. “We could hear whether we were 100 metres away or two feet from them. They learned very quickly that if they needed to talk a little shiz in the background, we could hear it all. When they realised we were all listening, all seeing, they started to take a lot more onboard.”

7) All the drama is real 

“Everything that was said was real as far as I’m concerned. There was some scripting in that we need to be able to say the name of the place you’re going for your high tea kind of thing. Other than that, it was having an actual conversation and seeing where it goes.” 

Cassie Roma watches. (Photo: TVNZ)

8) Cassie Roma is going to cry during an elimination

Although she couldn’t be drawn on who she cries over, Roma warned that an emotional turn is coming. “I think my hardass nature is going to be called into question when my makeup, we find out, is not waterproof,” she said. “Let me put it out there, the director was like, ‘We have never seen someone cry that much…’ As we get further into this show it becomes more and more real. It’s their heart and soul on the line. When they leave, it’s not an easy conversation.”

9) The wisdom is real, as is the contestants’ growth

Perhaps the emotional stakes can be explained by a whopper shoot that ran over 40 days, with the relationships between advisor and contestant growing very close towards the end. “We were with them all the time – every 45 minute episode was three days’ worth of shooting. By the time we made it to that boardroom, it was like, we need to impart some wisdom with you folks before you walk away, because you’re gonna steamroll downhill or you’re gonna grow.”

10) Cassie Roma has hired The Real Pod

Finally, in a thrilling merger, Cassie Roma accepted all of The Real Pod’s business ideas, which means we are basically the winners of The Apprentice Aotearoa. “All three of you? You’re hired.”


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