I have a lot of affection for The Profit: An Inside Look. It’s a show I already that’s been enhanced with a rich layer of something I’m fascinated by and passionate about: how reality TV is made.
When it premiered last summer, The Profit: An Inside Look gave us insight I’ve never before seen on television, showing us the dynamic between a reality TV star (Marcus Lemonis) and a showrunner (executive producer Amber Mazzola). But last night’s episode, which went behind the scenes of the “Pro-Fit” episode, had something I’ve never seen before on a reality television show: the network’s notes.
This season of The Profit: An Inside Look has added more to an already-successful format: Episodes have been filmed outside of a studio, and for the “NYC Bagel Deli” and “Bentley’s Corner Barkery” episodes, its owners joined Marcus and Amber to watch and discuss the episodes, offering new layers of insight into the production.
The playfulness between Amber and Marcus continues (“We used to do a lot together. Seven years later, the honeymoon is over,” she told him after recalling that they used to do cross-fit together.). So does the comedy, with Marcus sitting on an exercise ball, his head bouncing just inside the frame.
While Amber and Marcus clearly work well together and respect each other, they also have conflict. There was a minor tense moment when Marcus compared Amber to Pro-Fit owner Michael Sena, and she said, “You’re calling me narrow-minded?” “Sometimes,” he replied, and she told him: “Go fuck yourself.”
But the tension was broken by Marcus’ reply: “You can’t say f this many times!”
Between moments like that and a lot of behind-the-scenes insight, it was a particularly strong episode. Amber Mazzola shared a photo of a camera operator perched atop a ladder to get an overhead view of two people at a table, and also pointed out how two consecutive shots of a building were filmed at different times, because snow on the ground disappeared. That’s the result, she explained, of The Profit filming each episode over several months.
The best part, though, was when Amber Mazzola pulled out a stack of stapled paper: a CNBC network executive’s notes on the “Pro-Fit” episode.
As she explained, notes are feedback given on early versions of an episode. Those can be helpful, offering feedback from the perspective of someone watching like a viewer might, having not seen all of the raw footage. They can also be insufferable, as illustrated brilliantly in these pretend network notes written by a reality TV producer.
An early note had to do with Marcus Lemonis’ interaction with Pro-Fit’s owner. Amber Mazzola read what CNBC wrote:
“Marcus is in bleep [asshole?] mode here. We’ve just met this guy and I don’t think he said a single thing that doesn’t make sense in some way.”
And then she explained her response, both in writing and in editing:
“Here’s the response to the note: ‘We took out most of the Marcus bleep moments. We softened him.'”
In other words, some of Marcus’ comments were cut out because the network thought he was coming across as too much of an asshole.
That’s interesting contrast to previous revelations on An Inside Look, from both the “Wick’ed” and “Dilascia” episodes, in which Marcus and Amber revealed that content was left out that unnecessarily made the business owners look bad—or just didn’t fit with that person’s growth and change throughout the arc of the episode.
But there was more.
Mazzola also read CNBC’s notes for a scene in which Marcus worked out at Pro-Fit, wearing a tight, sleeveless athletic shirt:
“The sleeveless t-shirt: a very, very bad idea. Nothing to do now, but this is clearly another area where we need to use some judgment.”
The shade! Also: What the actual hell!
If a network executive feels that free to discuss and diss the appearance of a middle-aged man—who has a perfectly fine, fit body, for the record—on a business-focused reality show, can you imagine the network notes commenting on people’s physical appearances on other shows? And what, exactly, is the point? I suppose it’s to lecture Amber and her team: Do not let this happen again. Do not let your star dress like this.
Also, can you imagine the network notes on this episode which included the network’s notes? To CNBC’s credit, they allowed the show to include this commentary on the network.
After reading CNBC’s thoughts on Marcus’ clothing and arms, Amber looked into the camera and said, “To the network, noted. Marcus will never be in a tank top again, over my dead body.”
Cut to Marcus wearing a sleeveless shirt.