The Wall Street Journal reported that Lemonis, 40, is the chairman and CEO of Camping World Inc. and Good Sam Enterprises LLC, a recreational-vehicle and lifestyle company worth more than $2 billion. He is also the star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” a reality show in which he invests his own money into foundering businesses and attempts to them around.
Sound familiar? “The Profit” is a mash-up of reality-TV genres: one part Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, one part Shark Tank and one part Suze Orman Show. Lemonis’s “People, process and product” catchphrase may be the entrepreneur’s riff on Orman’s “people first, then money, then things.”
The show’s second season, which wrapped on Tuesday (April 15), doubled the viewership of the first, according to Nielsen figures. A recent episode was the most-watched original series telecast in CNBC history, the network said.
Unlike the stars of most makeover shows, Lemonis has skin the game. And unlike the investors of “Shark Tank,” who strike deals with entrepreneurs in need of funds to get on their feet, “The Profit” doesn’t intervene until a business is in on its last leg.
“Distressed companies, if fixed, will yield a much higher rate of return than a well-functioning company,” Lemonis says. “Higher risk, but higher reward.”
Lemonis says he has spent $7 million on nine deals over 14 episodes. It’s too early to tell how much return most of them will yield, but Car Cash, a vehicle-buying service he bought in the series’ first episode, has made him $1 million so far, he says.
The ultimate goal, he says, is to roll up all of the “Profit” companies into a holding business—some to franchise, some to sell, others to keep. But it’s Camping World and Good Sam, with nearly 6,000 employees and billions in revenue, that “define me,” Lemonis says.
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