Readers’ Lives: Agent turns Explore guide after winning Apprentice-style showdown

When the nation tunes in to find out who Alan Sugar will hire in the final of The Apprentice this Sunday, Thomas Cook branch manager Christine Griffiths will be able to sympathise with the candidates.

As the winner of Explore’s Adventure Apprentice competition, Christine had to face a similar boardroom showdown.

The adventure tour operator gave one lucky winner the chance to help lead a tour around India’s Golden Triangle. Christine loves India, and had travelled with Explore before.

Three rounds of challenges stood between Christine and her dream experience. In the first round she had to answer questions about Explore and the destinations the operator visits. Things got a lot tougher in the second round when entrants were given five difficult tour scenarios and asked how they would react as a guide.

One of the questions was what they would do if one of their group had a bad accident. Christine was able to draw on her previous experience working at Thomas Cook Signature’s response team.

Then came the terrifying boardroom showdown at Explore’s headquarters where the final two were interviewed and faced managing director Ashley Toft doing his best Lord Sugar impression…

“We had to say why we thought we should win – it was just like on TV,” Christine said. “I was so nervous, and utterly shocked when they chose me. I really didn’t think I would win.”

Christine was soon dividing her time between Kings Lynn and Explore’s office in Farnborough on her days off undergoing training sessions and being briefed on her responsibilities.

Then it was time to fly out to Delhi to join 16 guests on Explore’s Moghul Highlights tour. Christine had travelled as a guest on the same tour 10 years ago.

“It was fascinating to see it from both sides,” she says. “What goes on behind the scenes is staggering. So much love and attention goes into making an escorted tour work. Our guide, Rafiq, was amazing.”

Christine took on plenty of tour manager responsibilities, and the guests responded by treating her as a guide, rather than another passenger.

Christine is already lining up her regular customers to book the Moghul Highlights tour. “I’m so grateful to Explore for giving me the opportunity of a lifetime, and for all their support and dedication. I’m so proud to have been the Adventure Apprentice.”

Share article

View Comments

Jacobs Media Group is honoured to be the recipient of the 2020 Queen's Award for Enterprise.

The highest official awards for UK businesses since being established by royal warrant in 1965. Read more.