The Apprentice – Lord Sugar has no Art

November 22, 2018

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They struggled to sell doughnuts, so the episode where they had to sell contemporary art was pretty much doomed to fail. Even their design of urban gardens demonstrated a sheer lack of artistic flair. In episode 8 of the series, Lord Sugar sent his wannabe-business-partners up to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow to source and flog contemporary art to both the public, and a corporate client.

This week’s Apprentice task involved meeting with three artists which they would represent as art dealers at the gallery event. Both teams met with a line drawing artist who drew with her eyes closed, a sculptor whose work included a 3D ice-cream plaque and an abstract oil painter. Three very different artistic approaches, and three very different ways of blagging your way through a meeting with each of them.

The Clients

An overview on what the clients wanted may help when trying to fathom what on earth some of the contestants were thinking when they made their decisions.

High-End Speaker Systems

The first client invited part of team Collaborative into their showroom to experience the magic of the immersive experience that comes with their quality sound systems. Firstly, the sub-team sat and awkwardly listened to the music through the speakers, and then Sarah started speaking over the music. Strike one. Then she stopped for a second and asked if it was surround sound. Ignored. Strike two.

The owner of the company explained the pillars of the brand and what he was looking for in this artwork. His three pillars were innovation, provenance and experience. The sub-team then rang their peers to discuss. Wait for it. “So, innovation, I think, like, innovative?” Honestly, come on. And nobody knew what provenance meant. Strike three.

So, they were off to a shocking start with even trying to understand the brief, never mind finding something to fit it.

itison Events and Deals

The fun-looking offices of this modern and trendy brand were a dream for contemporary art placement. With a hot air balloon suspended from the ceiling, it was clear they may be looking for some funkier art.

The owners explained they want to foster an inspiring workplace whilst keeping things unique and exciting. Sian and Sabrina were fully understanding of their brief and jumped on board with great enthusiasm.

The girls knew exactly what the client was after, so it should have been easy to make a sale.

Team Building or Destruction?

As usual, both team Collaborative and Typhoon had to appoint a Project Manager. Jasmine, the one who put hot sauce on doughnuts, nominated herself for Typhoon because she didn’t want to see people mess things up. Ok Jasmine.

Canadian businesswoman Jackie, who did art as part of her degree, claimed her dream job was to be an art dealer. Well, Jackie, you hit the Jackie-pot with this task.

Team Collaborative

Jackie and David took the reins on the artist sourcing, whilst Khadija, Camilla and Sarah were in the sub-team who met the client. The artist they chose was the abstract oil painter.

Fair play to Daniel, with absolutely no idea what he was rabbiting on about, he blagged his way to success in agreeing a deal with the artist. The schmoozing continued throughout the exhibition from both Jackie and Daniel, with him claiming himself, “she knows what she’s talking about, but I haven’t got a clue”. At least he admits it.

The sub team got tasked with selling the merch, which may have been even harder than selling the art. They had printed some of the patterns onto t-shirts, cushion covers, and tote bags, which they tried to position as moveable art pieces. £30 for a t-shirt got a “hmm” from one visitor, with a polite yet awkward decline. Even better were the tote bags at £25, which sent one lady into hysteric laughter, followed by “something like that from Waitrose is about a fiver.” Bet she was jealous of the customer who got a free tote bag with their painting purchase!

When the corporate client came to visit the gallery, they were taken aback by the abstract designs offered to them. For a showroom that had neutral tones and was focused around sleek design, paired with those three pillars that nobody understood, they were less than impressed.

A bright idea amidst the dilemma was to sell as much of the merch as possible to local gift shops and similar outlets.

Team Typhoon

With Jasmine in charge, her and Tom coupled up to meet the artists. Bear in mind, Jasmine has an ‘interest’ in art, and Tom’s dad is a professional artist, with a brother who paints for a hobby. You’d think they’d breeze through.

Sabrina and Sian went out to meet the clients. Fully getting on board with the culture of the company, they were excited to impress. Opting to represent the sculpture creator at the gallery, they had the perfect item for the corporate client, and were off to a good start making the 3D ice-cream sculpture the first sale of the day.

Tom abruptly put his foot in it, not even admiring a piece of the art with the visitors, simply staying things like “I know you’re thinking, what’s going on here?”. BLAG IT, TOM.

When itison came to see what was on offer, they were torn between two items. A dazzling owl sculpture, which can only really be compared to an owl-shaped disco ball, or a ‘Home Sweet Home’ sign made from gummy bears. Mid-decision-making, they’re told the gummy bear sign has sold.

After having shoved Sian and Sabrina away whilst she dealt with the corporate clients, Jasmine struggled. The clients asked where they were. When they asked why Jasmine thought the owl was a good suit for the company, she made up some tale about their offices which was just not true. On the brink of a non-sale, whilst Sabrina wanted to go and speak to them, Sian got taken across, gave her pitch to the clients and they shook on it immediately. A very close shave that was.

The Boardroom

Despite team Collaborative not even making a sale to their corporate client, the sales from the gallery and to the other outlets made them the winners of the task, so they were safe for another week. Their prize was to make self-portraits on a pizza. The dream.

With a total of over £2,000 less than the opposition, team Typhoon were in the firing line. Jasmine and Sian’s claws were well and truly out, with everyone taking it out on Sabrina. Her enthusiasm was misinterpreted, and they felt she was annoying. However, if Sabrina had followed the direction to leave the building, Sian wouldn’t have made that all-important sale, so it wasn’t all her fault.

Tom was pretty useless on this task, let’s be honest. Not much else to say, except reiterate Lord Sugar’s comment: “The only thing you drew on this task is a blank.” I wonder whether he writes these puns himself. Anway, Tom, it’s last chance saloon for you.

Jasmine’s corporate attitude and not-letting-anyone-get-a-word-in-edgeways made her the ultimate loser, so she is the latest disaster of the boardroom. She made a sly comment to Sabrina as the left too. Bye Jasmine. And take your hot sauce doughnuts with you.

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Author: Laura

Laura has been sharing her opinions on all kinds of popular culture for over a year, with a strong focus on great music and questionable TV. A massive Geordie who has a love of all things Newcastle United, when she isn't sprinting across the Tyne Bridge to St James Park, we normally find her in-front of the TV watching Shrek, Coronation Street or Ant and Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway.

Twitter @loz_wald

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