the apprentice

The Apprentice Rides the Technology Zeitgeist to Stay Current


While some might say TV bosses are dumbing down the small screen to ensure mass appeal, others contest that they’re actually being clever with their content.

Take this week’s episode of the boardroom talent show, The Apprentice, as an example of both theories.

While some may suggest that Sir Alan Sugar is a diluted and pin-striped version of Simon Cowell, his producers are making sure he stays at the very top of the tree when it comes to TV viewing figures.

Are they dumbing down our small screen? While they’re clearly making it more appealing to the masses, I’d suggest they’re also riding the zeitgeist into higher viewing figures.

How? By making sure the show is centred around clever content featuring the very latest technology buzz – wearable tech.

If you were one of the three or four people who failed to watch The Apprentice this week I’ll fill you in on what happened – the eager candidates were summoned to Imperial College London, where Lord Sugar told them they had to design a new piece of wearable technology. They had to combine up-to-date fashion with cutting-edge kit, before producing prototypes and then pitching their products to retailers. It was boys versus girls.

One team designed a hi-tech jacket, the other a sweatshirt with a built-in video camera.

The girls’ team Decadence changed their name to Tenacity but still won with their jacket that could charge a phone.

The boys suffered another shambolic performance in which they gained zero orders and lost two more team members.

On the night of broadcast tweets from the production team, the TV station and fans, plus Lord Sugar himself, started featuring the hashtag #wearabletech – which soon started trending alongside #TheApprentice – ensuring that both the web’s technology fans and the connected TV audience connected to became one big army of Apprentice online advocates.

This did two things – it alerted the rest of the Twittersphere that something interesting was happening on a show that they maybe wouldn’t watch and it brought the power of two worlds – technology and TV fans – together to create a Twitter behemoth.

Result? Just watch the upward trajectory of The Apprentice’s viewing figures when they’re published next week. Then watch as thousands of new viewers, lured in by the #wearabletech hashtag, come back for more.

Dumbing down? Maybe so, but who’s having the last laugh?

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