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Thu 3 Nov 2016 09:25 AM

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Dr. Apa: the business of smiles

With a practice that spans New York to Dubai, a line of beauty products that bear his own name, and celebrity clients including Presidents and Royalty, Dr Apa is after no less than total world domination

Dr. Apa: the business of smiles

You've got practices around the world, and a client list that spans continents. But how did you first get into cosmetic dentistry?

From the age of five, I wanted to be a dentist. For whatever reason, that's what I had in my head. I never really thought about being anything else. So I got myself to dentist school and heard about this guy called Larry Rosenthal – he was doing cosmetic dentistry in New York. Back then, he was on shows like Oprah. I asked myself, 'what sort of dentist gets to do TV?' and decided I had to learn from him. So I got myself to New York University, and started working for him right after that.

Your big break involved members Abu Dhabi Royal Family, is that correct?

Years ago I was on this show on channel VH1. It was a 'best of beauty doctors' type of show, and when it was being filmed I wasn't very impressed. I didn't really understand how I would be portrayed, or the impact it might have. The show came out, and it featured all top notch doctors, plastic surgeons and me. It was shown around the world. At the time, some members of the Royal Family of Abu Dhabi were on holiday in London, and saw the show. They called, and flew to New York to visit me. We became close, and they told me what I do would fit right in the UAE. The rest is history.

What's the difference between what you do and a regular dentist?

It's the difference between a general physician and a plastic surgeon. You go to the GP when you are sick, and he sees hundreds of patients a day. I see two main patients a day, and work on things like re-modelling someone's mouth from scratch.

One of the challenges of growing a business is that you can't be everywhere. But so much of what you do relies on your own skills, your own hands. Surely, that means you can only expand so much?

What I want to do is similar to really famous fashion designers. When Giorgio Armani started, he physically tailored every suite himself. Then he got bigger, opened a store, then another and so on. Today, when you buy an Armani suit you know it's not been hand-stitched by the man himself. But you do know it stands for a certain quality. That's my idea for cosmetic surgery.

You work across New York and Dubai, and in multiple businesses. How do you get everything done?

It's about being really efficient, and knowing where your priorities are. When I was younger, I used to go out a lot in New York. That life was great. But at some point it was like a flick was switched in my head, and it was time to really push my business. So now all my time is dedicated to make that happen.

Must be stressful.

It's scary at times. There have definitely been times when I walk into an airport at two in the morning after working 30-days straight, that I begin to feel my heart race. But I think some people are just built to handle stress, either you can or you can't. Of course, you need to have the right staff, the right support behind you. That's critical.

How do you start each day?

I keep everything as consistent as possible. It's automatic. I get up at five in the morning each day, and work out for an hour. Even if I fly in late the evening before, I make sure I am up. It helps reset my body clock. In New York I have a driver, we go the same route to work each day – via the same Starbucks coffee. Sometimes, I will even listen to the same music. I will work in my practice from eight to five in the afternoon, and then spend three hours working on my beauty line. Then it's home for dinner, I'll watch a documentary or a series to help switch my mind off, and then I'm usually in bed by eleven o'clock.

What gets you out of bed in the morning?

Every one of my days is packed with something interesting, wther it's a patient, lecture, media appearance or business trip. Getting out of bed is the easy part. Every day is adrenaline-filled for me. How do I get to sleep each night? Now that's a better question.