N.I.K.S and Dr. Leah Totton: Industry Face Off?
N.I.K.S and Dr. Leah Totton
This year’s Apprentice final proved to be a nail biting culmination of passionate pitching and hot headed business strategy. In the past, Lord Sugar has expressed interest in the beauty sector, and Dr. Leah Totton’s proposition provided him with the perfect opportunity. Giving credit where it’s due, Dr. Leah is a a forceful public speaker with clear leadership qualities. However, viewing the N.I.K.S concept under the lens of “quick profit” did not endear her to public opinion, nor did her lack of warmth in front of the camera. Certainly, choosing a practitioner is a sensitive area for consumers, who want qualities of passion, skill and knowledge to take precedence over hunger for revenue.
I really admire Dr. Leah’s tenacity in securing her vision for competitively priced treatments available to consumers of average means, although she needs to rethink the structure of her business in order to stay ahead of the game. No business can compete on price points alone, and a broader, more innovative range of treatment options must be considered if her chain of clinics are to attract a steady flow of customers.
This brings me to Dr. Leah’s resume. She may be a doctor, but lacks hands on experience in the field of aesthetic medicine. Throughout the programme, it became evident that she had not spent a significant amount of time learning her craft or managing the day-to-day runnings of a clinic. I would be interested to know if she has received any product training, and whether she has been mentored at any length by others in the industry. Had she entered the competition with several years of work experience behind her, Lord Sugar would have had a much more viable business proposition to work with.
More interesting, however, are the opinions of several high profile TV doctors who have waded into the furore surrounding Thursday night’s triumph. In contrast to Dr. Leah, many of these doctors have had the advantage of media training, using careful language that conveys knowledge of their chosen field and concern for the job at hand. Dr. Nigel Mercer, former chairman of BAAPS, is less than enthusiastic about Lord Sugar’s latest apprentice:
"She may have done a few weeks' training in aesthetic medicine, but that is simply not enough. It may not be quite as dangerous as putting a hairdresser in charge of cosmetic surgery, but it is still putting patients at risk. She is using Lord Sugar as a marketing tool to get her business going. This industry is very saturated, and this show has just given her a big leg up."
Whilst I agree that Dr. Leah needs to work on several areas, deeming her as a “risk” is a harsh indictment. As she herself states, she intends to employ qualified personnel to administer treatments in her clinics, and is committed to her own personal development and training. Also, I take issue with the way that her case is being used a platform for medical professionals to criticise, rather than support, new entrants into the industry - generating headlines for themselves in the process. Thus far, Dr. Leah has clearly rattled those who have been drawn into a game of ‘carpet bagging’: pre-emptively denouncing potential competitors in a highly lucrative trade.
Several months ago, we saw the same group publicly denounce the performance of aesthetics treatments by “non-medical practitioners” - i.e. those without a degree in medicine, which Dr. Leah has. It’s important to note that such practitioners include highly trained medical aestheticians and skin specialists throughout the UK, many of whom have decades of experience in the practice, training and administration of injectable dermal fillers.
The truth is, however, that no amount of training or knowledge can substitute innate skill and talent. Over the years, I have come into contact with clients who have suffered poor results from across the spectrum - from minimally trained therapists to fully accredited, highly published cosmetic surgeons. The relatively recent media poster child for this problem has been Alicia Douvall - a British model who underwent over 300 cosmetic surgeries throughout the course of her 20s. Such cases are stark testimony to the fact that, no matter how impressive a professional appears on paper, ethics and character are paramount, as are restraint and good judgement - particularly when money is involved.
Personally, I hope that Dr. Leah finds out what makes her tick about the world of aesthetics; whether it’s training, education, or improving someone’s quality of life. Lord Sugar, in turn, must accept that every procedure carries a degree of risk - and that proper protocols must be put in place in order to ensure that consumers are well informed, and that N.I.K.S is a safe and enjoyable place to visit.