Michelle Chia stressed out about hosting new TV show with Chinese financial guru

The television host found herself checking the dictionary often to prepare for Chinese financial programme BrainStorm

Actor Li Nanxing (right) is a guest on the first episode of BrainStorm Singapore Edition, hosted by Michelle Chia and Chinese financial guru Ma Hong Man.
Actor Li Nanxing (right) is a guest on the first episode of BrainStorm Singapore Edition, hosted by Michelle Chia and Chinese financial guru Ma Hong Man. PHOTO: AZIZ HUSSIN FOR THE STRAITS TIMES

Singapore host Michelle Chia co-owns an investment firm, dabbles in property and is well-versed in her personal finances.

Despite that, the 40-year-old felt the pressure when taking on her latest television gig – hosting financial infotainment show BrainStorm in Mandarin, alongside Chinese financial guru, Dr Ma Hong Man.

She says: “It was extremely stressful because he is a finance professional... and Mandarin is his mother tongue. He is not only strong in the language, but also strong in financial language.”

Adds the bilingual Chia, who was speaking to the media on Wednesday during the filming of the show’s Singapore edition at a studio in Kallang Way: “I had to check the dictionary to make sure I was getting the terms right – the financial terms and the lingo.”

She need not have worried because the Singapore and China production teams chose the “household name” to add a local flavour to the show.

BrainStorm Singapore Edition is co-produced by Singapore-based media company MyChinaChannel and China Business Network, a channel that has been airing the series in China for more than a decade.

Mr Eugene Lee, chief operating officer of MyChinaChannel, says of Chia: “She makes it easier for the Singapore audience to connect with the show and the topics discussed.”

Meanwhile, seasoned financial commentator Dr Ma, who hosts BrainStorm in China, has his secret to making complex financial knowledge digestible for audiences.

“The man in the street is not concerned about the statistics, charts or analysis reports. He is concerned only about whether he can make money.

“I will have to keep that in mind when talking about finance,” says Dr Ma, 40, who hosts Chinese shows such as lifestyle and business talk show Life Of Pure Pleasure.

The Singapore version of BrainStorm will feature a panel of guests – ranging from influencers to working adults – exploring topics such as the media landscape, housing and job prospects of fresh graduates.

Celebrity businessman Li Nanxing gives his two cents’ worth in the first episode on entrepreneurship.

His advice to budding entrepreneurs is gleaned from his own experience in failed business ventures, such as a piano bar and a discotheque set up in the 1990s.

He owns talent agency LNX Global and movie company Cornerstone Pictures. He also invests in property.

Li, 51, says: “Don’t take short cuts. I wanted to make quick money previously, but now, I have learnt to take things slow and steady. It was a painful lesson, but I picked myself up.”

He also recommends tapping the expertise of experienced businessmen, saying: “Find out not only the pros of the business, but also the risks associated with it.”

Far from being scarred from his business missteps, he is estimated by the Taiwanese media to be worth NT$2.7 billion (S$120 million) because of his multiple ventures.

Li laughs in protest: “They are overestimating (my fortune).”

• BrainStorm Singapore Edition premieres on China Business Network (StarHub TV Channel 809) on Sept 3 at 7pm. It airs on Saturdays at 7pm

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 26, 2016, with the headline 'Michelle Chia has the jitters on TV show'. Subscribe