The businessman has a vision - of himself swaying in a top hat at the Melbourne Cup.
CLIVE Palmer was tucking into a breakfast of fried eggs, bacon and miniature sausages at his Sunshine Coast resort when he revealed a glimpse of method behind his apparent madness.
''It's a patience game,'' he said when asked about the latest delay to his long-awaited windfall from iron ore royalties.
For a group of reporters who had waited 19 hours to greet the eccentric businessman - whose wealth is either $750 million or $3.5 billion, depending on who you trust - it was a fitting choice of words.
After 28 sleep-deprived hours touring his disparate business empire, you realise that patience has played an important part in Palmer's rise to extraordinary wealth, and will play a big role in the future if some of his newer acquisitions are to become money-spinners.
No encounter with Palmer is complete without a few surprises, but as we gathered at 5am on Monday in a private terminal of Brisbane Airport, the first surprise came sooner than expected when the big man failed to show.
But assured that Palmer would join us on arrival in Western Australia, we boarded his private jet and cruised north towards Townsville. Palmer's influence is hard to avoid on the streets of Townsville, and not just because he filled those streets with 55 extra Mercedes-Benzes.
Palmer bought the local nickel refinery off BHP Billiton in 2009, when the loss-making asset was earmarked for closure. When nickel prices soared a year later, Palmer made enough money to give away cars and holidays to his refinery workers.
But those heady days have passed: slumping nickel prices have combined with currency rates and the carbon tax to weigh heavily on the refinery's bottom line.
As we are driven around the refinery, Palmer's lieutenants quietly suggest a game of patience could be playing out here, too. Rival operators, including BHP, have been closing or downsizing their nickel refineries in recent times, and Palmer's Townsville refinery could soon boast a much bigger share of the market - and the influence that goes with it. That thought was settling as the private jet arched over Magnetic Island and veered west towards WA.
The four-hour journey allowed time to examine the finer detail of the jet, which can seat 12 people in leather lounge chairs, and another three on a couch fitted with seatbelts. Lunch offered a choice of Moroccan lamb, beef, chicken or fish, and a snack bar was stocked with confectionary and bourbon for those wanting more.
Palmer, we were told, likes meals to begin soon after takeoff, with chocolate bars to fill the gaps between meals. But hopes of confirming those details with Palmer on arrival in WA were dashed when the big man failed to show once more.
The prospect of a total no-show was beginning to grow as helicopters flew us over Palmer's massive iron ore holdings near Dampier.
Palmer bought the tenements in the mid-1980s but did not sign a deal to develop them with Chinese company CITIC Pacific until 2006 when iron ore was the new gold. He needs more patience: the project is two years behind schedule. And so back to the Queensland resort that was until recently operated by the Hyatt group. Delirious from fatigue and beer, we had to rub our eyes with disbelief on landing at Maroochydore early on Tuesday morning.
Waiting on the tarmac beside several luxury Bentleys stood the darkened shape of Palmer, unmistakeable despite his recent shedding of 30 kilograms.
Profusely apologetic, he said his absence was caused by an urgent business meeting with the Chinese company with which he plans to replicate the Titanic.
He offered a breakfast interview as consolation. Two hours later, the interview was complete, with Palmer offering potential headlines on asylum policy, corruption in Queensland politics, commodity markets, Australia's relationship with China, the Titanic replica and, bizarrely, his desire to follow Sir John Kerr's footsteps into the role of governor-general.
''Remember Kerr got drunk at the Melbourne Cup? I want to be able to do that and wear a top hat,'' he said.