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Fiona Scott, journalist and media consultant's Apprentice Review Ep.9

The end of the series is in sight and now there is no place to hide – personalities will come to the fore, or not, as the case may be.

Unison and Empower were tasked with a music licence task  – audition artists, negotiate a percentage of any licence sales, take a brief from a possible corporate client – seek sales from that client and from a specialist sales event. The buyers represented companies who wanted to buy licence rights for music for marketing campaigns, films or tv shows – there were potentially thousands up for grabs. The most money earned would win the day. 

One team was led by Lewis and the other by Dean (although one might have been forgiven for thinking the insufferable Lottie was in charge again). One thing Dean did get right from the beginning – he treated artists as people and not as a business deal. This one ability was, I think, the key to this task. He used his experience as a talent manager to make the auditioned artists feel great. He said he was confident after three auditions that whichever was chosen as the most appropriate, he felt they would get the deal – regardless of the commission being taken. He was right. 

Of course we once again had to endure Lottie – the woman who must be about 300 years old – because she’s been everywhere, seen and done everything. No wonder she works in a library, where she can share her diverse and unending knowledge to her heart’s content. Does anyone listen? Playing the viola from four, been in music for 15 years, can read and write music and play. Yawn. 

The other team, led by Lewis, lost the task at the outset because the musician they wanted – once they knew the corporate client’s brief – went with the other team. Immediately they were on the backfoot trying to manipulate the music into something to fit the brief. It didn’t work.

Thomas’s upfront sales style was at the heart of it – he needs to learn not all people make judgments based on money. This task clearly demonstrated that. Thomas’s inability to flex his behaviour led to them being turned down by the artist they wanted. This was then compounded by Lewis alienating a corporate client by offering them the inadequate music at £15K above their top price. This led to no sale at all. Luckily they did pull back some sales at the general buying event. 

Pamela put me in mind of Lottie – as being diametrically opposed to her. She’s been virtually invisible, very good-looking with very little action so far. However at this stage in the game, her reticence is blindingly obvious and her apparent tactics of ‘sitting in the background’ will no longer work. We’ll see what that brings.

As far as sales were concerned, Dean’s team made sales of over £15K against Lewis’s figure of just over £10K. Back in the boardroom, Lord Sugar didn’t bother to bring people in, he made his decision to fire both Marianne and Thomas. I agreed with him. They lost this task within minutes of it starting and Thomas had been in the boardroom eight out of nine times. A nice guy yet not the right guy for this gig. It was clear Lord Sugar was really sad to see him go. Marianne was a bit ‘meh’ throughout the process. The most dramatic thing about her was her bright red lipstick, I can’t remember anything else she achieved. The same could not be said for Thomas who was definitely at the heart of this year’s series. 

Lessons from this show:

  • Flex your sales technique to match the client – the best way to do this is to listen and take things steady and ask questions.
  • If you are given a brief, stick to it as closely as you can and if you can’t – go back to the client and explain why. Do this even if it means you lose them, trying to ‘con’ them into buying something they don’t want is much more damaging. 
  • Do your research – if you are negotiating a music licence, a little research should give you a clue what kind of commissions are the norm. Don’t show inexperience by going too high or too low. 
  • Showing off – or being too timid – can both be equally damaging in business. One can come off as complete BS and the other doesn’t engender confidence and some people won’t wait to find out if the quiet person has got what it takes. 
Fiona Scott Media Consultancy Swindon

Scott Media

Scott Media is run by a UK-based journalist with more than 20 years' experience in the media - print, radio and television.

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