Marcus Lemonis, Chairman/CEO of Camping World and Good Sam and the star of CNBC’s The Profit says his entire business career has been about being accessible to people who need his help — even when his live-in girlfriend warns him that it’s going to burn him out.
Speaking to reporters at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, Lemonis said he gets more than 1,000 email pitches a day, and culls even more from Twitter, but the entrepreneurial spirit is what drives him — in himself and in the struggling and prosepctive business owners with whom he works. It’s also what has helped double The Profit’s ratings its second season, earning the series an additional 10-episode order that will begin airing Tuesday, Oct. 14 at 10pm.
The new episode order include a follow‑up episode featuring updates on businesses already featured on the show, including New Jersey ice creamery Mr. Green Tea, and a even a few where a deal didn’t happen.
“What I don’t have is I don’t have somebody else looking at the pitches,” Lemonis told reporters. “But I look at all of them, and I’m probably being a little quicker in the yesses and the noes. I’ve done about 10 deals outside of the show during the same period that the show was airing, and so I’m actually doing more deals not on the show than I am on the show.”
Asked if there’s a surefire red flag that will make a “no” come even quicker, Lemonis had a fast answer. “Desperation doesn’t sit well with me,” he says. “I want people to be very smart about it. If I ask them if they have a plan or they have their numbers put together and if the answer is no, I’m moving on from there.”
And while millions of confection lovers rejoiced at the recent news that Lemonis came to the rescue of beloved cupcake chain Crumbs, don’t expect to see the story in the new batch of episodes. But it’s still a great story. Lemonis will keep in the ballpark of 30 Crumbs stores open and repurpose them as a space to show off other success stories from The Profit.
“What I saw was an opportunity to take four of the brands that existed from our show and actually integrate them,” Lemonis explained. “So I looked for ways to find a platform and pick up these other businesses along the way, and now it’s probably the first time that reality actually is going to meet reality. In the Crumbs locations, once they reopen and it goes through the bankruptcy process, you will see Mr. Green Tea. You will see [Key West] Key Lime Pie. You’ll see Sweet Pete’s Candy. You’ll see Matt’s Cookies. That was always a big strategy of mine, is I’m going to accumulate these business along the way, but I do have to have some sort of strategy in the end. I don’t just pick up these businesses for fun. I definitely don’t do these episodes for fun.”
Lemonis, an only child born in Beirut and adopted by American parents he calls “blue collar wealthy,” said his mother and father raised him well, but his drive to succeed was born of necessity.
“I had to work early on,” he explained. “I started a lawn business at 11. I was always peddling things. And I had a rough childhood, so business for me was my way to kind of separate myself from the bullies and from the popular kids. And it’s funny — today I see and hear from people that weren’t so nice to me back then, and they didn’t know I necessarily had money. I got a business plan from a guy who was really not nice to me when I was in high school and I emailed him back and said, ‘Do you really think I’m going to do business with you?’”
So while Lemonis’ desire to help people and fix broken businesses is inherent, he says his desire to do The Profit will last only as long as he feels the show does tangible good.
“It’s a lot of work,” he said. “It’s a lot more work than I thought it was going to be. … So I hope to do it for a long time, but I only want to do it when I feel like I’m adding value to not only the businesses, but for the viewer. It’s a fun education for me, and I learn a lot, more importantly. I learn more about myself.”
The Profit returns with all-new Season 2 episodes Oct. 14 at 10pm
(Photo by: Heidi Gutman/CNBC)