Interview with Yianni

Yianni Charalambous is the man the rich and famous trust with their precious rides. Find out more about him below...

Lamborghini Aventador S VS Pagani Huayra | Yianni Decides |

What is the premise of your new show?

It's the day to day life of what goes on at Yiannimize. I run a car customising business where we specialise in car wraps, which we do for mainly the rich and famous, like football players and celebrities. Because our client base is so high-end we mainly do Lamborghinis, Ferraris and Porsches, and because of that we don't really have to worry about a recession. Whether our clients spend £5-10,000, they're not worried. Car wraps change the colour of the vehicle. If you have a black Ferrari for example and bored of the colour, we'll change it within a week. It's not a permanent thing so we can take it off and the original colour is underneath - it protects the vehicle too.

What can we expect from this series?

You will see a load of different characters; normal customers, celebrities, a £2million car, a V-Class, a normal BMW, main dealer cars, people from reality shows, gold cars - things you wouldn't expect to see. Some of the cars and colours will make you go wow, I can't believe they've done that! It's going to split opinions.

What's the Yianni touch? How would you describe your style?

I've been doing it a long time now, about 10-12 years, and the majority of my customers are repeat business so they trust me. They'll give me a rough idea and say 'Yianni do your thing'. In a few episodes, you'll see people say 'Yianni, I trust you'.

What is your history for those who might not have heard of you?

I originally started at a place called Do It All, which is like B&Q nowadays when I was 16, and then I worked at M&S in Brent Cross stacking shelves. I worked in recruitment in the city and was top seller for quite a few years - I always had the gift of the gab. And from a young age I loved cars. I was very meticulous even when I was parking my little toy car. Then I got in to the car industry and started out doing normal people's cars until I got introduced to Arsenal footballer Bacary Sagna. I wrapped his car and he'd take it to the training ground and everyone would go wow, your car is amazing, who did it? Other footballers asked me to do their cars, like William Gallas and John Terry. Then I did Marvin Humes' car and at a JLS Christmas party I met One Direction, so I did their cars - then Gordon Ramsay. It's the snowball effect. If you're recommend by someone like Harry Styles as the guy you can trust with your car, you become friends with these people. I went to Theo Walcott's wedding who gave me the tag 'famous amongst famous people'. As my profile grew with social media, I then got a name for myself and now people ask me for pictures and autographs!

Do you get star struck?

I don't nowadays but I did back in the day. I've been fortunate to go out with people like 50 Cent, I've met David Beckham - I could name so many people. The madness around celebrities, you have to experience it first hand to know what it's like. I don't get star struck any more but I'd love to meet Simon Cowell and wrap a car for him.

What kind of person likes to have a customised car?

I don't think there's any specific individual. You have clients that really want to really stand out so everyone talks about it. Plus because my social media is so strong - I have over a million followers on both YouTube and Instagram - if I post your car it becomes famous so everyone knows whose it is. A lot of customers say 'Yianni make sure you post it on Instagram!' But then I have billionaire clients who do not want me to post their car; they want me to do the job and keep it quiet.

How does your show differ from other customising car shows?

There aren't that many nowadays. You had Pimp My Ride back in the day, which I'd say is probably the most similar. I've been approached to do a lot of TV shows and they wanted it formatted and make things to go wrong but I didn't want to do that. If you film me long enough then things will go wrong, because it's life. In two or three episodes things go badly wrong and you see me losing my rag, which is 100% real. The audience aren't idiots; they can tell what's fake and what's real.

How does it feel having your own show?

I'm really excited. For so long people have said I need my own TV show. Now I've got it it's a great feeling. I've been on so many TV shows over the years and have videos on YouTube that have 8-9 million views, which is more than The X Factor. But to have a TV show about myself, my company and my staff who are like my family, is really cool. Because I'm very digital and social media, I've done it backwards: I've gone business, money, social media, TV, while most people go TV, social media, money, business. You don't get too much crossover because TV and social media are very different but I know some of my YouTube audience will watch. When I went along to the filming of Top Gear, a lot of people didn't know many car YouTubers as they don't watch YouTube, only TV. That's what opened my eyes and made me think I need a bigger audience.

Do you get recognised a lot?

Yeah I get recognised everywhere. More so in the last three years since my social media really blew up. At car shows I literally can't move. I have to have a green room I can go to and chill because the minute I go out, I have to stand there for an hour doing pictures. But I come from Wembley, I know what it's like to be a fan and you never want to come across as rude or arrogant. I have two kids who are 11 and 7, and I always make sure I take time to see the kids and take pictures with them.

Are celebrities more demanding in their requests?

Yes. If you're famous you're used to people running around after you and doing what you say immediately. I built my business on the fact I don't do that. So if you're a celebrity and come to me and say I want this and that, that's fine I'll do it, but I won't let you bully me just because you're a celebrity or a multi-millionaire. I will tell them if I don't think it will work. Some people are so desperate to have a celebrity client they will do anything they ask, but because my client base is 80% celebrities, they respect the fact I'm honest.

Which car has been your favourite to customise?

It's one of two that are both in the series; one's a McLaren P1 that we wrapped in rose gold, worth £2 million. Rose gold is my signature colour, we made it as a custom print. And a Pagani Huayra, which is worth about a £1.6 million. You have supercars like Lamborghinis and Ferraris but these are hyper cars. You don't see them anywhere, let alone in my workshop, and I had to increase my insurance because it was over my policy cover!

How many cars do you own and what's your favourite?

I have a Lamborghini Aventador S, which is new, a Range Rover Velar Urban, an SLS, and a V-Class. I have a few toys but my favourite is my Lamborghini; I love that car and colour. It gets the most looks just because the doors go up, it's a Lambo, and my private plates are on it. A lot of people didn't understand why I had such a flash car originally. But if I turn up at a training ground in a Smart car, a footballer player isn't going to give me his £200,000 car. If you turn up in a Lambo or a Ferrari then they'll trust me to drive their car. And if I don't wrap my own car, people will think I'm not up to the job.

You starred on CBeebies and voiced a character in Cars 3...

This year has been quite crazy. Ryan Inside Laney is my character in Cars 3, which was unbelievable. They flew me out to Pixar Studios in Vegas and I did a road trip which I would have paid to do, let alone be paid. I did CBeebies this year as well with Ali-A who's a massive YouTuber. I hit a million on YouTube and Instagram this year too, so it's been an unbelievable year and obviously the TV show just tops it all off.

What are your hopes from this series?

I'm hoping firstly that people like it and get it. That's important to me; for people to understand what goes on at Yiannimize and to like the characters and my customers. I get a lot of flack on social media, as a lot of people in the public eye do, and I'm just hoping that people understand each person as an individual and that they can do what they want. People judge a lot these days and think 'I would never do that'. But it doesn't matter, let everyone live their life. Finger's crossed we get a second series and maybe a spin off, too.

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