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Nicola Hemmings

The Chemistry Group

Business Analyst

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TV Review: The Apprentice Week 8 – Confidence and enthusiasm go a long way

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This week was all about the battle of the street arts where team members had their arty skills put to the test.

The challenge: to find two of the ‘streetest’ urban artists and organize the sale of their art in two of the most cutting-edge galleries in London.
 
Gabrielle put herself forward for Sterling’s team leader with her past experience in dealing with art and also running evening events, whereas Tom put himself up for leader of Phoenix as he ‘knows a bit about graffiti’.
 
For a head start, Tom dropped in on the corporate client- Renault – for a bit of ‘joie de vivre’ whilst team Sterling headed off to the Beefeater Gin Factory.
 
Whilst the team seemed to understand the Beefeater brand – i.e. that is contemporary with a strong heritage, and very London, there was no mention of the budget, the wall space or location for the painting. These rather essential particulars were lost in the creative process.
 
Half of the teams were then shipped off to Bristol, the home of Banksy – the stig of the urban art world, according to Adam. First stop was artist Nathan Bowen who likes to draw pictures of builders err, urinating on each other. Gabrielle loved them but Nick and Ricky were less than impressed.
 
Human approach
 
Next artist was Copywright showcasing paintings of scantily-clad ladies in his garden shed. Nick and Ricki liked the ‘textures’ of the paintings and Adam found the technical detail ‘hypnotizing’. Adam appeared to really connect with Mr. Copywright, but then ruined it all by slating the other work they had seen previously.
 
Back in Shoreditch, the teams met Pure Evil (actually quite a nice chap). At £150 a pop for some girls crying, the paintings went down well with both groups. Tom was the fountain of all artistic knowledge, wowing Mr. Evil with his love of Space Invader (the artist not the game) whereas Gabrielle’s team took the more human approach.
 
Gabrielle was able to talk to the artist at his own level, ask questions and seemed genuinely interested in his work, which is what secured her the deal when it came to the fight over evil with Tom’s team.
 
Tom’s lack of contingency meant he had to settle with James Jessop, monster-drawing artist who seemed to have a fondness for cider and a desire to time travel back to the 1980s to paint trains.
 
At £10,000 each, these paintings weren’t cheap, but the team would only need to sell one to win the challenge.
The teams were then shown their Brick Lane galleries and preparation for the big event began.
 
Gabrielle came up with the idea of having Nathan Bowen do a Live Art performance to allow potential customers to engage with the work, but Stephen reckoned it would be better if the artist was kept out of sight, missing the point a bit.
 
Lack of engagement
 
During the live event, Tom’s risky decision to sell a 12 foot monster was trickier than he first thought. And Adam’s staggering lack of knowledge left a lot to be desired. When asked what medium the artist used, he admitted that he wasn’t sure if the artist had visited a fortune teller recently. Oh dear.
 
However, this didn’t stop him from working the room and making a great impression on several customers.
 
Meanwhile, Lauren’s hunt for commissions was un-engaging and painful to watch, with her sales technique consisting of “are you ok there?” Perhaps her technique was more suitable in a bridal shop with a wasted-on-champers-bride-to-be, but not in the world of ultra-trendy underground street art.
 
When the clients arrived, Tom welcomed Renault and showed them round the space. But Stephen obviously hadn’t read the ‘How to Treat Your Client’ manual: no wine (or gin!) on entry, no introduction to the team and no goodbye.
 
This less-than engaging approach lost them £10,000 commission (which was their budget, had the team bothered to ask). Yet even though they lost the corporate commission, Sterling still managed to pull off an overall win by £130. They were allowed to paint a giant canvas/each other: perhaps the most creative they had been all week.
 
Laura, Tom and Jade were brought back to the boardroom and the finger of judgment was brought down upon Laura. Her apparent ‘salesability’ did not show through on the task due to her lack of engagement and passion in her sales pitch.
 
Apprentice Week 8 – Key Learning – Confidence and enthusiasm go a long way
 
This episode showed that you don’t always need to be knowledgeable, you just need confidence and enthusiasm. Adam’s expertise is in fruit and veg: he’s more of a turnip prize than a turner prize (thanks Sugar for that gem of a gag), but that didn’t stop him from connecting with people.
 
To shell out £10,000 for a painting the size of a small bungalow you have got to be a little excited about it. Van Gogh was certainly passionate about his work, he cut his ear off. Perhaps somewhat excessive for the modern taste, but you do have to connect with your customers, your clients and your team.
 
Be passionate, get excited and be an inspiration.
 
 
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2 Responses

  1. Passion for Pure Evil

     Thank you for your comments. The aim of my blog was to highlight how important it is for people to be passionate and inspirational about their work. If you can really engage with people, finding out about them, what motivates them and what lights their fire, then you are much more likely to have a more personable business relationship with them. If you bombard your potential client with facts and figure then you will not gain their trust, they will just know you are a fountain of knowledge, a pretty cold one at that. When Gabrielle was talking to Pure Evil she didn’t need to know everything about street art in order for her to gain a rapour with him, she came across as genuinely interested. Pure Evil wasn’t looking for facts, he was looking for someone to sell his art for him. Evil would be more likely to pick the person he liked, the person he ‘connected’  with, not the guy who seemed to know it all. Your comment states that The Apprentice “provides a message that leaders need to be arrogant, self obsessed, rude.” I would argue that in this particular episode this may not have been the case (although I cant speak for the rest of the series!)

  2. The confident generation

    Confidence without competence is a recipe for disaster.  Programmes like the apprentice can create an impression that style is more important than substance.  The Apprentice is really all about enhancing a media career rather than a serious business programme – see http://humandynamics.wordpress.com/2011/07/17/that%E2%80%99s-entertainment-%E2%80%93-the-apprentice-real-business-and-real-leadership/

    As long as we recognise it’s entertainment, that’s OK.

    Peter Cook

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Nicola Hemmings

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