Waking up in the small hours of the morning, I felt entirely alone and deeply disheartened. I turned on the harsh hotel light and looked at my sorry excuse for a face in the bedroom mirror. In all of my 24 years I had never felt or looked so exhausted. Then, from outside my door, I heard two booming voices, one male, one female, both very familiar. They were banging on about what an exciting prospect going to the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham was, and how delighted they were to have got hold of the right kind of wedding dresses.
On the odd occasion I can prise myself away from my hectic schedule, I like to go to the movies. My favourites are the made-for-Oscar dramas — being an emotional type, I like nothing more than seeing feelings running high in characters who are fighting for something they believe in. I’m much the same when it comes to real life, being drawn to people who lead with their hearts rather than their heads.
Arrogance is a costly vice. The cliché directed at me by many people I have met over the years in the business world is that there is a fine line between arrogance and confidence, and that “you, my friend, have crossed it”.
Contrary to how viewers of the last Apprentice series perceived me, I always tried to look at myself objectively. I wanted Sir Alan to be fully aware that I recognised my faults and was willing to plead guilty to them.
I’m running down the narrow streets of Marrakech, a large cowhide placed uneasily on my left shoulder and my trembling right arm pointing towards a butcher. My brow and back have collected enough sweat to fill a small pond, and I am nervous. No — in fact, I’m absolutely terrified.
I now find myself in a featureless room surrounded by a bunch of unidentified objects. I cower down with a feeling of incomprehensible shame as the objects begin to grow and then proceed to cackle and scream.
This year, the London art world spotlight is falling on the work of Jewish sculptors. Next week, the Ben Uri Gallery opens an exhibition of drawings by the renowned Lithuanian-born sculptor Jacques Lipchitz, and Anish Kapoor and Sir Jacob Epstein will both be featuring at the Royal Academy in the autumn.
And this week an exhibition of the work of American abstract expressionist Louise Nevelson opened at the Louise Blouin Foundation in Notting Hill.
The brilliance of The Apprentice stems from its ability continually to supply its audience with the unpredictable. It is a winning formula as far as I am concerned.
But at the risk of sounding like the dull science teacher Noorul Chaudhary, that formula seems to have been tampered with.
This week’s task set by Sir Alan was all about product identity and advertising. These types of challenges always rely on the candidates displaying enough creativity to produce a strong brand coupled with an entertaining promotional campaign.
When Elsbeth Juda and I arrived in Skibbereen, Ireland, in 2004, for the 60th birthday party of a mutual friend, it was after a gruelling delayed flight, a reroute through Dublin, a wait for a second plane to Cork, and a car journey. Asked whether she would prefer to rest, she replied no, she would like to take a walk around the loch — which, at 7pm at night, to my horror, we did. At the time, Elsbeth was 93 years old.
It is always difficult to pick the favourites in a fierce competition like The Apprentice. Believe me, there is no set trend when it comes to surviving through to the final weeks. The candidates are subjected to such severe pressure that it can make them behave erractically, with their performances varying from programme to programme.
Making it even more tricky to choose a winner is the fact that you are trying to second-guess Sir Alan and, as he often says, you can never second-guess him.
Still, I will give it a go and select the three candidates I fancy to get to the final act.
At 19, I wanted to be Donald Zec. He was a journalist doing all the things I wanted to do. He was a top writer on the Daily Mirror; I was a junior reporter on The Luton News. He was spending all his time jetting to and from Hollywood; I was going to council meetings.
He seemed to have the perfect life. I have since done my share of jet-setting and have discovered that in Tinseltown, all that glitters is not gold. But I am not sure that for Donald Zec, 90 years old this month, that was ever the case.
If you have not already taken in the latest Ben Uri exhibition, it is well worth making the trip to St John’s Wood to see works by 24 of the 300-odd painters, sculptors and graphic artists who settled in the UK between 1933-45 as refugees from the Nazis and who went on to make a significant contribution to British culture.
Most of the 24 were Jewish — the ones who were not had to flee Germany because of their political beliefs or their “degenerate” artistic practice.