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The Partner has a people problem

The Partner has a people problem

With just two episodes left, I cannot see any of the people on The Partner actually becoming Marcus Lemonis’ actual partner.

He’s not looking to just hire someone to work for him, but is selecting a person who will to earn actual profit from an equity share in his company. It’s a massive opportunity, and it just doesn’t feel like any of the remaining four candidates are up to the job.

The final four—Buffie, Juli, Erin, and Peilin—all seem very nice and successful, and I could see them working for Marcus. But none of them seem up to the challenge of being an actual partner—of being his equal. Perhaps that’s too much to ask for a reality show competition. Perhaps they’ve all just been thrown off by trying to demonstrate their skills with extreme time constraints and the pressure of cameras hovering.

I have no experience in business, and most of my business training has come from Shark TankThe Profit, and Google searches to help me monetize this site, but with this candidate pool, my ego is telling me to apply next season.

The final four stepped up the most when, at the end of episode three last night, they sat at a table and criticized each other, identifying each others’ weaknesses clearly. Perhaps that was easiest because those weaknesses so apparent, and the failures so clear:

  • Asked to sell one or more of Marcus’ businesses products at a Chicago mall during Tuesday’s episode, they choked.
  • Asked to define their personal brand and work with a designer to create a one-sheet advertising themselves, they produced mediocre work last week.
  • Asked to simply talk about their own strengths, most of the initial candidates couldn’t even do that. This was the best of the group?

Ironically, the most reality TV-ish of the tasks, having them coach 11-year-olds in a basketball game, was the one they handled the best.

The Partner needs better production, too

To its credit, The Partner is addressing this problem: “I’m trying to tell you that what you’re bringing to the table isn’t what your capabilities are,” Marcus said at one point during Tuesday’s episode.

At the table conversation that concluded the episode—they apparently hadn’t earned dinner, and didn’t even get water; they were just sitting in front of empty glasses and place settings—Marcus revealed that he’d brought a non-sales member of his staff who brought in about as much money selling just one product in one hour.

Marcus told them flatly, “I thought today you guys did a bad job, all of you.”

In a voice-over recorded later, however, Marcus said, “But for now, you’re safe.”

And there’s the other problem: For whatever reason, whether it’s bad network notes or the nature of creating a formatted show out of a documentary-style series, The Partner feels more forced, more ham-fisted in its approach and storytelling, especially in its attempt to stoke the drama flames.

There are more voice-overs, editing tricks, and cheap shots—which, disappointingly, The Profit has increasingly been guilty of using, too. The sound effects of Erin texting were the most blatant example this episode, and it also seemed like the editing overused (or even re-used the same) footage over and over to make it seem like he was doing nothing but texting for hours while he was dealing with a literal fire back home. The editing also seemed to try to make it look like Peilin was storming off at the mall, but then she was magically back and Marcus said nothing about that; that footage may have just been her going to the bathroom or to get some water, and it was used against her.

I’m still engaged and watching, just more frustrated than I’d like to be with the production, and just less impressed with the talent than I thought I’d be. The challenges do feel like they’re designed to capture Marcus’ strengths, like being able to walk into a business on The Profit and see what owners are missing, and see the potential.

I do wonder what he sees in this group. Maybe it’s the editing that’s failing to show what Marcus sees in them. But at this point, I think the best—and most remarkable, and most The Profit-like—outcome would be for Marcus to select no partner, and start over again next season.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means. Learn more about Andy.

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