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I believe your issue is related to an underlying database bug I tracked down earlier this year.
By chance, for your database, is NLS_LENGTH_SEMANTICS=CHAR? Is it feasible for you to try this with NLS_LENGTH_SEMANTICS=BYTE and try the installation again (ensuring you first follow the steps of cleaning up after a failed installation).
You're probably correct - we should check for this in the installation script of Application Express. I actually abstained from doing so, because this underlying database issue will be rectified in some future database patch set - so I didn't want to prevent something which may and should work for customers in a few months.
But at a minimum, this is something we should highlight in our Installation Guide or Release Notes as a potential issue. Thanks for the suggestion.