The Apprentice’s Steve Darken on startups, the importance of PR, and The Apprentice

The Apprentice quarter finalist, freelance consultant, and startup advisor, Steve Darken, joined the Spreckley team in London for an exclusive presentation on startups, the importance of PR, and The Apprentice! Startups Magazine’s Deputy Editor, Anna Wood, was lucky enough to be invited along to learn more about Steve and his experience.

Steve’s Apprentice experience

Darken discussed his experience on the show, and the experience of applying for The Apprentice.

“I was off travelling and had been a freelance consultant for about five years at this point.

“I applied to be on the show in 2023. I had taken a year out from work and was planning on moving to Australia. When I was in all this, I had the sudden urge to come back home. It was the 28th January. I went on iPlayer and downloaded some episodes of The Apprentice to watch on the flight, and at the end of the episode it said applications for the next series were open, and applications closed the next day. So, I applied that day. Within three months, I was filming,” Darken said.

Since exiting the show, Darken mentioned that he was “inspired to start being entrepreneurial.” He had realised that he had lost a bit of love for financial services, which he said is a very intensive industry. “I realised I find more pleasure in being a bit more creative, helping, and seeing the value of delivery.

“One thing I've never had in my career was actually seeing the value of delivery. You get the big picture of the delivery system, you've made an acquisition, you start to see the changes, but to actually have a tangible impact and make a difference to people's lives, you get a lot more out of it.”

What can a PR agency bring to each stage in management consulting?


When it comes to business strategy, businesses need to define their vision and objectives, as well as set priorities and principles.

Darken commented: “Firstly, is all about problems. What is the issue? What is the situation and position that your company is in? Once you've got a handle on that, you'll then go off and define a vision and objectives, and actually the mission statement and all these kinds of things, and set some priorities and principles. That's the high-level thing that we do at any strategic project.”

So, what can PR bring at this stage?

“A PR company, they define the vision, and they set priorities. These are the key things we need to deliver, and that is how strategy works.”


When it comes to designing strategy for a business, they need to gather requirements, design solutions, and draft a delivery plan for the way it will be executed to ensure the strategy is able to be implemented well.

In this case, a PR agency is able to bring external knowledge into the conversation. From knowledge of their other clients and the industry as a whole, as well as other factors like regulations, a PR agent is able to make sure a company stays on track and plans something that is able to be implemented.


When it comes to the delivery of strategy, there are multiple factors that need to be taken into account. Businesses should be able to create solutions, test until they’re ready for market, and then finally launch the strategy and be able to sell off the back of it.

By bringing on a PR agency, the agency is able to be reactive as well as proactive in this period. They are able to react in real time to any issues coming up, and essentially ‘fight fires’. However, they are also able to be proactive. By this, they are able to spread the word about the business and do everything in their power to ensure the business succeeds and gets the press coverage it needs. From this coverage and hype around the business, the business is able to concentrate on what matters most to it, which is the business side of things, whereas PR are able to focus solely on PR.