'Undercover Boss': Worker Curses, Gets Fired On The Air
"I am not a f------ slave!" Jacqueline said at one point -- part of an unending stream of bile from the employee at a Retro Fitness gym in Fairlawn, N.J., as she trained Eric Casaburi, the founder and CEO of the gym chain, on how to do her job. She thought Casaburi was actually "Barry," a man trying out to be a gym manager on a "second chances" reality show. (See the video above.) She explained to him why she thought it was just fine for her play on her iPhone all day instead of helping Retro Fitness customers. "Members are literally stupid," she told him. Another choice quote: "... With some people, I just want to punch them in the face sometimes."
As a result of her nastiness, Casaburi invited Bob, the franchise owner of the Fairlawn Retro Fitness, onto the show to confront Jacqueline. And Bob made what seemed like the only reasonable choice.
"We have to part ways," he told her. "I can't have you behind the counter like this. I'm disappointed."
"Maybe I dropped the f- bomb," Jacqueline responded, then she proceeded to let out another expletive. "Like, I can't even deal."
It wasn't the first time in four seasons of the CBS series that a worker had been fired on the spot. Viewers didn't have much sympathy for Jacqueline, though. "Good job removing the crazy girl," one viewer tweeted. Casaburi tweeted back, "I don't remove people they remove themselves!"
"Undercover Boss" is a hit, with its ratings this season rising to 7.8 million viewers, according to HitFix.com. And Jacqueline is one of those reality show archetypes whom viewers love to hate. As one Retro Fitness member walked by the front desk on his way out of the gym, she shrieked at him "You're payment' is overdue!" so outrageously that other gym members stopped in their tracks. She also was unbearably rude to Casaburi. "I want you to stop talking," she said to him at one point, in advising him to not mess with her. She changed the recipe of the company's health shake -- to a way she preferred it
Based out of New Jersey, Retro Fitness is widely known throughout the Northeast for its low-cost membership rate of $19.99 a month. It already has 300,000 members and brings in $100 million a year in annual revenue. It's also been recognized by Entrepreneur magazine one of the "Top Fastest-Growing Franchises"; with 90 current ones, the company will soon hit double digits, according to Casaburi.
And as the company expands, Casaburi obviously hopes for fewer workers like Jacqueline, and more of them like Megan, who works sales for a Retro Fitness in Easton, Pa., and also appeared in Friday's episode. Megan has not had an easy go of it. After her father abandoned her family while she was a teenager, she moved in with a man who ended up abusing her, she recounted during her appearance on the show.
It got so bad that Megan was forced at times to sleep on the streets. She also led an unhealthy lifestyle, and gained 55 pounds. But after she moved back in with her mom, she began taking off the weight while working out at Retro Fitness. And so fitness "almost became like a calling," she said. And she brought the same positive energy to the Eaton franchise. ("Yay, that was so good," she told "Barry" encouragingly as he worked the loudspeaker to tell clients about new deals.)
In recognition of her turnaround, Casaburi decided to alleviate some of her burdens during the show's reveal. He told her that he was going to give the following: $15,000 for a new apartment, $40,000 toward loans for her education at Penn State University and another $20,000 as "moving forward money."
"This is beyond my dreams," Megan said. "I'd never thought I'd be able to live my life without any worry. Can I hug you now?"
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Dan Fastenberg was most recently a reporter with TIME Magazine. Previously, he was a writer for the Thomson Reuters news service's Latin America desk. He was also a reporter and associate editor for the Buenos Aires Herald while living in South America.
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