“My love life is terrible and I have no friends to speak of,” says Marcus Lemonis, the multi-millionaire star of CNBC’s new business turn-around series, THE PROFIT.
Lemonis — CEO of Camping World, America’s largest seller of RVs — is often up until 3:00 A.M., personally responding to the 150 emails he receives each hour. “When you are [doing work] in bed, it doesn’t go well,” he says. “My girlfriend is not happy.”
When Lemonis — who was adopted from a Lebanon orphanage at nine months-old — isn’t overseeing his empire of 6000 employees, he’s helping other struggling entrepreneurs keep their heads above water.
“This is not a show about drama. But unfortunately, in any business, there are going to be people that scream at each other. When things don’t go my way because somebody is unethical or dishonest, you will sense the passion and the anger.”
THE PROFIT is CNBC’s latest attempt unscripted, reality programming — a move intended to lure more eyeballs to the cable channel after the stock market closes.
In the premiere episode, Lemonis tries to revive a struggling, family-owned auto flipping business on West 55th Street, which finds itself on the brink of closing after 35 years.1-800-CAR-CASH was founded in 1977 by Manhattan entrepreneur Bruce Barron.
At its peak, the business generated $50,000 in weekly sales. But since Barron passed away in 2012, his two sons, Jonathan and Andrew, have been feuding over how to run the operation and revenues have reached an all-time low.
“This particular episode was near and dear to me because of my background in the car business,” Lemonis tells me.
Growing up in Miami, his father owned two of the largest Chevrolet dealerships in America.
“But I didn’t want to be in the car business,” he says. “[Former Chrysler boss] Lee Iacocca was actually the reason I got into the RV business. He was a family friend and he called me and said ‘the car business isn’t the right thing for you. You are going to be a small fish in a big pond. I want you to revolutionize something.’”
“So I got into the business in 2000 and built a $3 billion company.”
Lemonis — who previously appeared on ABC’s SECRET MILLIONAIRE and in several episodes of CELEBRITY APPRENTICE — insists he isn’t preying on down-on-their luck business owners.
“I understand how some people could see it that way,” he says.
“You go in and make a deal and you are opportunistic. I didn’t do this for altruism. I did it to make money. But you will see negotiations with give and take.
“In some cases they will push back. They will negotiate and I will give them what they want as long as they follow the rules.”
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