Stars of Hotel GB hope hospitality businesses follow suit by taking on more apprentices

By Luke Nicholls

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Hotel gb, Unemployment, Hotel, Bermondsey square hotel

Hotel GB will see these famous names running the Bermondsey Square Hotel in London for one week
Hotel GB will see these famous names running the Bermondsey Square Hotel in London for one week
The celebrity staff of Hotel GB, which airs on Channel 4 this evening, hope that the show will set a precedent for hospitality businesses to help tackle youth unemployment by taking on more apprentices of their own.

Hotel GB teams up two groups of famous names to run the Bermondsey Square Hotel in London with paying guests in an attempt to help a group of unemployed trainees find real jobs and raise money for Springboard,​which finds young disadvantaged and unemployed find work in the hospitality industry, and The Princes Trust.

Ahead of its opening, BigHospitality was invited along to a tour of the hotel and we asked some of the celebrity staff why they got involved with the project and what they hope the show will do for the industry.

Gordon Ramsay will be heading up the Hotel GB boys team

“I’ve never stopped trying to help young people break into hospitality,” said Gordon Ramsay​, who is running Hotel GB’s restaurant and heading up the boys team.

“We’re here to set an example, we’ve got a chance to turn the youth unemployment around and show them the benefits of working in the industry - although it’s not glamorous, it gives you an opportunity to be ambitious, climb the ladder, and do something pretty unique for yourself.”

'Queen of the shops' Mary Portas will be leading the girls team

Mary Portas​, who is in charge of the rooms and leading the girls team, added: “It’s so important. The amount of people that are unemployed, especially the 16-24 age group, is really shocking. 

"The truth is, if you inspire people and show them that they can do something, they blossom. So things like this, and apprenticeships in general within the hospitality industry, are so important."

Gok Wan hopes Hotel GB will inspire other hospitality businesses

Hotel GB’s bar manager Gok Wan​, who is an ambassador for The Princes Trust, believes the show will motivate other businesses to help tackle unemployment.

“Having done quite a lot of stuff with teenagers myself, it’s had quite an effect on the way I run my fashion business now,” said Wan. “Not only do I take on my own trainees, but working on something like this will hopefully inspire other businesses to do the same.”

Kim Woodburn​, best known for presenting the TV programme How Clean Is Your House?, will be taking on the role of head of housekeeping at Hotel GB. Woodburn believes the show will serve a dual purpose; helping the trainees find work and raising money for charity.

“We’ve all got two people to train and I honestly hope we’ll get them all work,” she said. “If we give guests good service and the people that stay tip us, the money will all go into The Princes Trust and Springboard, so not only are we getting these people work, but the money  and the tips that we get, for good service, will go into those charities, so we’re really killing two birds with one stone.”

Katie Piper will be giving her trainees some 'tough love'

Heading up the hotel spa is Katie Piper​, the former model and television presenter who survived an acid attack in 2008 and has since gone on to set up The Katie Piper Foundation.

Explaining her decision to get on-board with the project, Piper said: “When I was 19 I worked in a hotel spa similar to this and when Channel told me about this project, I thought it was a great idea. In my own charity work I meet lots of people that find it hard to get back into work, so I thought it had a really feel-good element.

“To help people progress and understand the world of work, you do need to be disciplined. I want this department to run properly so I’ll be giving my trainees a bit of tough love.”

Money raised from Hilary Devey's Hotel GB shop will go directly to the charities

Meanwhile, Dragon’s Den star Hilary Devey​ is running the Hotel GB shop, with all money raised going directly to the two charities. The businesswoman explained that it should be the task of the businesses themselves to take on more apprentices.

“If somebody doesn’t start helping youngsters get into work, then who’s going to? There’s mass unemployment out there, if we can help create a few jobs and raise awareness of the two charities with Hotel GB, then that’s a great step.

“But businesses should be taking on more apprentices themselves. My own businesses take on apprentices and always have. I’ve taken on ex-offenders on, ex-drug addicts on. It doesn’t work 100 per cent of the time, but 65 per cent of the time it does.”

Other famous staff members in Hotel GB include Dr Christian Jessen​, manager of health and wellbeing and the gym; Kirstie Allsop​, running the concierge; and Phil Spencer​, Maitre d’.

  • Hotel GB opens its doors tonight (1 October) at 9pm, running all week on Channel 4.

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Hotel GB

Posted by Avril Owton MBE FIH,

What a mockery Hotel GB is making of the industry. It's enough to put any young person going into what is a hard working and professional industry. If Channel 4 want to make a programme about a hotel at least use people who have been in the industry for years and are experienced. Hilary Devey's dogs in the restaurant then on Gordon Ramsey's lap in his chef's uniform! What about health and safety. What do Mary Portas and Hilary Devey know about running an hotel. I have owned and run an hotel for 36 years it's hard work and takes a long time to train anyone to the skills required. I feel very sad that the hotel industry is being made fun of. Shame on you Channel 4

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Appealing to young people!

Posted by Rebecca Johnson,

Considering a recent study has found out that just under half of young people would never even consider a career or job in the hospitality sector, Hotel GB could only be a positive advert for hospitality as a career. These young people consider the industry to be "boring", which if you work in the industry you know couldn't be further from the truth. Hotel GB shows the entertaining side of the industry. The "interesting" guests, the excitement whilst working a busy shift and the banter with your colleagues at the down times. Obviously a hotel isn't set up in a week and I think people realise this!

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Bad impression of Industry

Posted by Steve,

Whilst the concept is great and I support it the execution as usual fails. I know its for TV and it has to be "entertaining" but it is sending out the wrong message to young people about our industry. There is no way in hell a apprentice would be responsible for cooking on their first day in a professional kitchen, it has therefore set them up for failure and to receive the typical tirade of Ramsay. I would watch that an think twice about joining the industry.

I do however like that the fact that is can also show the bad attitude of SOME young people today. All we read about in the papers is bad business not employing young people this has shown that sometimes there are young that are unemployable. Eg Ade and his reaction to being told off when dropping a tray of drinks of clients last night. He really didn't give a toss. Will be interesting to see how it pans out.

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