‘The Profit’ Star Marcus Lemonis Reveals What it Takes to Make a Small Business Succeed

TV host and serial entrepreneur tells NCR Silver about his hit show and what’s coming next.
Marcus Lemonis
Marcus Lemonis He shares some of his show's greatest successes. (Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

In 41 episodes over three seasons of his hit show “The Profit” on CNBC, Camping World CEO and multi-­millionaire Marcus Lemonis has invested in all types of businesses across the country, helping to reverse the fortunes of failing companies and giving new ones a shot in the arm and management advice to succeed.

Not all of the businesses have made it, but overall, Lemonis has a terrific track record. He shared some of his show’s greatest hits with NCR Silver and explained why they flourished.

Success is tied to work ethic, integrity and the willingness to change

“Sweet Pete’s has been a real success story – a candy maker in Jacksonville who is now a candy mogul. It’s turned into a $6 million business,” Lemonis said.

“Mr. Green Tea, an ice cream manufacturer, also has been unbelievable,” he added, “And AutoMatch started as a small used car business in Chicago and is now a $200 million business.”

What all of these business owners have in common, Lemonis said, “is unbelievable work ethic, unbelievable integrity and the willingness to change. If you call me and ask for help and you’re not willing to change or you forgot that I gave you money, I don’t get that.”

Failure is tied to ego

Lemonis said he’s usually a pretty good judge of character when selecting what businesses to help on “The Profit,” but admits there have been disappointments.

“It takes about 10 or 12 days to shoot an episode, and you see the true colors of people over time,” he said. “If I get an early preview that the relationship’s going to be toxic or there’s some sort of amnesia about reality, it’s better to cut your losses and cut bait, though in some of the cases I’ve invested a $100,000 or $50,000 at that point.

Why did these investments fail?

Lemonis said: “The common element for failure is ego – ego gets in the way.”

With entrepreneurs clamoring for his valuable business insights, Lemonis has received many offers to write a book, but he has declined, preferring to impart his wisdom via speaking engagements and digital videos he posts on social media and answering questions by e­-mail.

What’s next?

Lemonis’ next big TV project is a spinoff of “The Profit” for CNBC called “The Partner,” which will follow his quest to hire a partner at Marcus Lemonis LLC.

The show will follow the application and interview process that will narrow the pool to between six and eight candidates. The winner will receive a three­-year employment contract for $163,000 a year. “I’m going to be granting equity to the partner in the overall enterprise, much like a lawyer would be granted equity in a law firm,” Lemonis says. “I’m looking for somebody to be my eyes and ears in the 85 businesses that I’m invested in today.”

“The Partner” will debut in summer 2016 on CNBC.

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