Why Next IMF Chief Won't Be An Apprentice

(c) Sky News 2011

As nominations close for the IMF (Berlin: MXG1.BE - news) 's top job, Sky's Dharshini David looks at the candidates.

One job. Three candidates remain. The search is on - and for once we're not talking about the Apprentice. Reality has overtaken, er, reality tv. Far from flogging fruit salad, these candidates will be charged with saving the world's bacon.

And this post comes with the bigger pay packet - a tax-free £320,000 - and without Lord Sugar. European leaders and bookies may have Christine Lagarde earmarked for the top job at the IMF but she has some competition.

It's not just about economic credentials of course but also politics and, controversially, geography. So as the deadline for nominations approaches let's take a closer look at the candidates' CV's.

Christine Lagarde

Strengths: A member of France's synchronised swimming team in her youth, the high-achieving lawyer was appointed the country's Economy minister in 2007. She (SNP: ^SHEY - news) played a key role in securing a 750 billion euro EU rescue fund during the debt market crisis in 2009, and has been a champion of Eurozone solidarity, urging the likes of Germany and France to pull together to support weaker members. She's currently involved in negotiating the restructuring of Greece's debt. Has won the backing of European leaders from the UK to Germany, and is the bookies' favourite. A charismatic straight-talker, she's won approval in America - not least after an appearance on the popular Daily Show (when she presented host Jon Stewart with a beret). Between them, the EU and US hold over 40% of the votes.

Weaknesses: France has held the top job for 26 of the last 33 years; another leader from its ranks is likely to stoke the ire of other countries who think it's time the top job went outside Europe (Chicago Options: ^REURTRUSD - news) . Has less experience with the IMF than some other contenders; when the job first looked likely to become vacant she was ranked a 20/1 outsider. A French court is to decide whether to investigate her role in the settlement of a £200m legal claim in favour of a former minister, Bernard Tapie.

Augustin Carstens

Strengths: Combines his role as Head of the Banco de Mexico with being a Chicago Cubs baseball fan. He was previously Mexico's finance minister, leading the countries response to the financial crisis, and during that time, chaired the IMF and the World Bank's Development Committees. Last year Mexico enjoyed its fastest economic growth for a decade. Underlining his credentials, he was deputy managing director of the IMF from 2003 to 2006. The first to throw his hat into the ring officially as a contender to Mme Lagarde.

Weaknesses: Although Mexico leads a group of countries that has 4.66% of the IMF's voting power, Mr Carsten is also likely to face fierce opposition to those who want to keep the job in Europe. Moreover, traditionally the head of the World Bank has hailed from the US - awarding the other plum job to a neighbour would be controversial.

Grigory Martchenko:

Strengths: A career banker, twice Governor of Kazakhstan's Central Bank (Other OTC: CBSU.PK - news) as well as holding prominent posts in the private sector. He's been credited with steering his country successfully through the financial crisis, and making it the banking centre of Central Asia (Other OTC: CSRUF.PK - news) . Kazakhstan and other former Soviet republics have been lobbying Brazil, China and India to unite around Martchenko, as the "emerging markets candidate". Supporters say he's well qualified to understand and tackle Europe's financial problems.

Weaknesses: Has little experience with the IMF or other international organisations. Again, not being from within the EU is likely to work against him.

As the deadline for nomination approaches, voting will get underway and the vote completed by June 30th. Whatever happens, we'll know who's been "hired" in a matter of weeks.