Nicholas Crean

Chairman, Prestat, on topless beaches, nudity in hotels and working with his family

What was your first-ever job? When I was 17, I spent a summer walking up and down the topless beaches of the South of France selling ice creams and pain beignets.

What’s been your worst job interview? When I was 18, Maurice Saatchi gave me a tough initiative assignment: 36 hours to write a two-year forecast for UK advertising expenditure. To be honest, I didn’t understand the question. I had to ask my clever mum. I got the job, but she still says that she got it for me - huh!

What was the first music single you bought? Ferry Cross the Mersey by Gerry & the Pacemakers.

What is the most rewarding part of your job? Working with my brother Bill. It makes the disagreements less bad knowing you are both working for the common good of your family.

What is the least rewarding part? Seeing a competitor get shelf space you know you should have got on first.

What is your motto in life? ‘Nothing is impossible; there is always a route to a solution.’

If you were allowed one dream perk, what would it be? To eat unlimited chocolate without needing to go to the gym.

Do you have any phobias? I have a fear of drowning in quicksand.

If you could change one thing in grocery, what would it be? Make more space for fresh chocolates. Demanding a minimum shelf life of six months puts the kibosh on many of the most ­delicious recipes.

What’s your favourite film and why? Dr No. Great storytelling, superb casting, wonderful music and the joy of escapism.

What was the most embarrassing moment in your life? After a big night in Sydney, I opened my hotel door to pick up my newspaper. The door just closed behind me - I was naked with nowhere to hide. It was a tabloid and I am chunky. I had to take the elevator to the basement to find someone who could get reception to send a new key to the room. I knew that by the time I had got back into the room, the whole hotel knew.

Which celebrity would you most like to work with and why? Jerry, from Tom & Jerry. Jerry is a relentless opportunist. He often gets caught, though, and takes his punishments like the mouse that he is. He wins because he always bounces back.

Topics