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Undercover Boss: Inside the TV Phenomenon that is Changing Bosses and Employees Everywhere

ISBN: 978-0-470-91600-1
272 pages
November 2010, Jossey-Bass
Undercover Boss: Inside the TV Phenomenon that is Changing Bosses and Employees Everywhere (0470916001) cover image
"For a popular television series, Undercover Boss has an unusual knack for raising deep and weighty questions."
—Forbes

On February 7, 2010 the CBS television series Undercover Boss USA premiered to a staggering 38.6 million viewers, the largest post-Super Bowl audience for a new series and the most-watched premiere episode of any reality series in the history of television.

Now, for the first time, the bosses and employees featured on Undercover Boss share the lessons they learned as well as the formative experiences that resulted from being on the show. Show creators and executive producers Stephen Lambert and Eli Holzman reveal how they came up with the idea for the show, how they got a major network on board, and of course, how they found a dynamic, charismatic group of bosses willing to go undercover—on camera—in this thoroughly new experiment.

Featuring all-new interviews and insights with the bosses and employees of the nine businesses featured on Season 1 of the show, as well producers' notes on what you didn't see behind the scenes, this book is a must-have for fans of the show everywhere.

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Introduction.

1. Sorting Through the Garbage
Waste Management: Larry O’Donnell, President and COO.

2. Wings, Women, and Beer
Hooters of America: Coby Brooks, President and CEO.

3. The Necessities of Life
7-Eleven: Joe DePinto, President and CEO.

4. An American Love Affair
White Castle: Dave Rife, Owner.

5. Time to Get Personal
Churchill Downs: Bill Carstanjen, COO.

6. Looking for Fulfilment
GSI Commerce: Michael Rubin, Founder and CEO.

7. What Riches Can’t Buy
Herschend Family Entertainment: Joel Manby, President and CEO.

8. Troubles Down the Drain
Roto-Rooter: Rick Arquilla, President and COO.

9. Say It with Flowers
1-800-Flowers: Chris McCann, President and COO.

Go Undercover in Your Own Organization.

Acknowledgments.

About the Authors.

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Stephen Lambert, chief executive of Studio Lambert, is one of Britain's best-known creative television executives, responsible for creating award-winning documentary formats such as Faking It, Secret Millionaire, Wife Swap, and Undercover Boss. He lives in London with his wife, Jenni Russell, a columnist for the Guardian and Sunday Times, and their two children.

Eli Holzman is president and cofounder of Studio Lambert USA, where he launched and executive produced Undercover Boss. He began his career at Miramax Films and founded Miramax Television, where he helped create Project Greenlight and the hit Bravo series Project Runway. For 20th Century Fox–based Katalyst Films, he developed and launched the CW series Beauty & the Geek. As an independent producer, his series creations include Bravo's Work Of Art. He lives in Venice Beach, California.

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October 20, 2010
Undercover Boss: Inside the TV Phenomenon That is Changing Bosses and Employees Everywhere

When Undercover Boss premiered in February, nearly 40 million people tuned into what is now, the most-watched premiere episode of any reality series in the history of television. How a simple question—whether employees would recognize their bosses if they posed as entry-level employees inside their own companies—grew into a TV phenomenon, is quite a story. How, for example, did show creators and executive producers Stephen Lambert and Eli Holzman first come up with the idea for the series? How did they get a major network on board for a show that would celebrate the unsung heroes at work, rather than one that chased after scandals and exposés?  And most importantly, how did they convince major CEOs, from companies like Waste Management, GSI Commerce, Roto-Rooter, 1-800-Flowers, and Churchill Downs, to make themselves and their companies vulnerable in front of millions on national TV?

UNDERCOVER BOSS: Inside the TV Phenomenon That Is Changing Bosses and Employees Everywhere (Jossey-Bass, $24.95, 978-0-470-91600-1, November 2010) is a rare look at the making of the show and the results of its aftermath. A compelling and fun read for fans of the show, this book also offers keen insights for anyone curious about how a reality series is made.

Behind-the-scenes interviews and new insights from the Bosses profiled in Season 1 makes UNDERCOVER BOSS especially relevant to CEOs, bosses, and managers eager for fresh insight on how organizations that value and respect their employees can better demonstrate their appreciation to them and make sure employees are getting what they need in order to do their jobs to the best of their abilities, while also benefiting not only the employees but the company as a whole.

These new interviews with the Bosses after their episodes aired offer, in greater detail, what the Bosses went through emotionally on their journeys, which initiatives were implemented after the show, how much the boss changed, what corporate policies were revisited, and where the featured employees are now.  It also includes a guide called “How to Go Undercover in Your Organization” for anyone curious about trying the undercover experience for themselves.

The nine courageous bosses, (with four making themselves available for interview), their employees and the companies featured in the book from Season 1 include:

  • GSI Commerce: Michael Rubin, Founder and CEO—*available for interview
  • Roto-Rooter: Rick Arquilla, President and COO—*available for interview
  • Churchill Downs: Bill Carstanjen, COO—*available for interview
  • 1-800-Flowers: Chris McCann, President and COO—*available for interview
  • Waste Management: Larry O’Donnell, President and COO
  • Hooters of America: Coby Brooks, President and CEO
  • 7-Eleven: Joe DePinto, President and CEO
  • White Castle: Dave Rife, Owner
  • Herschend Family Entertainment: Joel Manby, President and CEO
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