Businessman and former All Black Marc Ellis has revealed how the competitors on the second season of Celebrity Treasure Island manipulated the show's outcome back at the turn of the century.
Appearing on The Hits Breakfast show, Toni Street asked him whether the series he appeared on — which saw the contestants being split into teams based on gender — had the same "girls versus boys" vibe as the current season.
"No, we basically sat around the campfire," Ellis admitted, before revealing the subterfuge that underpinned the programme.
"I had so much food — we smuggled it in in pillowcases and buried it before the crew got there," he said.
"Then we sat around and said 'well, who wants to win?' and Greer Robson said 'Oh, I'd like to'. Well, sweet, you've won," Ellis added.
If the going's tough on this year's Celebrity Treasure Island, the contestants can lay the blame on those from previous series who indulged in a spot of rule manipulation. Photo / TVNZ
Starring alongside him in series two of the franchise were Greer Robson, Eva Evguenieva, Louise Wallace, Nicky Watson, Suzanne Paul, Jenny-May Coffin, K'lee, Paul Ellis, Cory Hutchings, Michael Laws, Matthew Ridge, Jason Gunn and Ewen Gilmore.
Ellis said the competitors organised between themselves who would exit each week before filming had even started.
"Ridgey said, 'Oh my son's birthday, I'll be off seventh'. Yep, cool. I said 'Look, I'm off first, I can't stand this, I'm outta here'," he explained.
And yes, Shortland Street actress Greer Robson did go on to win that season.
But while Ellis and his co-stars got away with their cheating, competitors in later seasons have paid the price.
"The crews got wind of it and the next year it turned into Guantanamo Bay," Ellis admitted, "... and it's been that ever since."
Sam Wallace, who is a contestant on the current season of Celebrity Treasure Island, agreed with Ellis' assessment: "It's just that bad, yep."
This article was first published on the NZ Herald and is republished here with permission.