Why content marketing would never work on The Apprentice

The Apprentice is back. Brimming with bad behaviour, ridiculous posturing, and unbelievably awful one-liners, (fave so far ‘There are no ‘i’s in team, but there are five in individual brilliance”) it’s as compelling as ever. Even though it has us shouting at the screen ‘Bring some nice makeup? Wear high heels? Did feminism never happen?’ we’ll be watching all the way.

But the series comes as we’re deep into writing the second edition of the Valuable Content Marketing book, and we’re thinking hard about who the book is for, and what kinds of businesses will really be able to make content marketing fly.  So one thing that’s resounding as loudly for us as Stephen’s passive aggressive huffing, or Lord Sugar’s clunky jokes, is that content marketing definitely isn’t an approach that would work on The Apprentice. Here’s why. 

7 reasons content marketing would never work on the Apprentice


  1. Terrible products A Christmassy looking jumper for peeping Toms! (If you missed it, this was a jumper with built in chest height camera.)  How about a jacket with solar powered shoulder pads and a flashing lapel? Content marketing could not rescue products as dire as these.
  2. Zero thought about the customers Although there’s a nod to market research in the product development stage – cue running around London and asking ‘do you love my idea?’ – there’s no thought given to how the products will help the customers. Without that thinking, you can’t create valuable content.
  3. No point Nothing is ever created for a purpose, and it’s communicating this understanding and purpose that drives great content marketing. All great content marketing has a story to tell.
  4. No team work Content marketing relies on people working in harmony, and the cracks in the teams are huge. Everyone is out to win, not to work together.  Those group hugs aren’t fooling us.
  5. No patience Content marketing takes time. You won’t see results in a day, and Sir Alan won’t wait.
  6. Too much shouting Marketing with content is the opposite of running down the street dressed as a hot dog and accosting everyone in your path. It means creating the content for people who want it, not screaming at everyone within earshot.
  7. No-one cares about what they’re selling You’ve got to really believe in what you’re offering, and genuinely want to help if you want to get good results from content marketing. It’s not a sales technique that can be applied cynically.


We know the Apprentice is not a true reflection of the way business operates – we don’t see reflections of us, or our clients. It’s a pantomime version of business, speeded up, played and edited for drama and laughs.  People are set against one another, and the tasks are ridiculous. The Apprentice is another reality show, albeit one with a terrible prize. (A partnership with someone who’s been yelling ‘shut up’ at you for ten weeks? No thanks.)

But still. It confirms what many people think they know about business. Namely that the commercial world is cut throat, dog eat dog, and all about profit. And that you’ll only win if you scream more loudly and wrestle people into buying your stuff.

If you genuinely believe that view of business, then content marketing won’t work for you. Truly valuable content marketing only works for good businesses that genuinely care about their customers. Simple (just like some of the candidates, but don’t get us started on that!)

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1 Comment

  1. James Hartman

    You have a point Sharon, that is why you have to hire professional content writer.


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