'Undercover Boss': What Really Happened To 'Epic Employees'
Both faithful and skeptical viewers of CBS' "Undercover Boss" series might wonder what happens after workers and the CEOs appear on show. Does anything really change? Were they really glad that they appeared on the show? As it wrapped up its fourth season on Friday, CBS aired a special "Epic Employees" episode, and the answer seemed to be an unequivocal yes.
Modell's CEO Mitch Modell gave a surprise visit to one of his employees, Angel, and came bearing gifts: Brand new mattresses for her, her two daughters, her husband and the baby she is expecting. The visit, of course, was made to a house that Modell himself made possible; earlier in the season, Modell found out that Angel had been living in a homeless shelter for two years, so he gave her $250,000 so that she could move her family into a new home. (He also promoted her during her first appearance from her job as a sales associate to her new position as an assistant store manager.)
On Friday's episode, she gushed, telling him, "You have no idea the impact you've had on our lives." (Her reaction to the gifts is seen in the video above.) Her reaction was relatively mild compared to when the Modell's CEO, while clasping her hands, gave her the $250,000 check to buy the house. Then, she was so overcome with emotion that she literally keeled over.
Two rounds of help for Angel is of course wonderful for her and her family. But it does raise questions about Modell's salary structure if a full-time employee is forced to live in a homeless shelter. According to Glassdoor, the average salary for an employee at Modell's is $24,248. That salary, in line with the average salary for all retail workers in America, is roughly $20,000 less than what the average American worker earns each year. At the same time, Modell's brings in an annual revenue of of $680 million, Crain's reported last year. The salary issue is all the more important when considering that retail salesperson is currently the most common job in America.
Nevertheless, many viewers apparently were moved by the episode. As one viewer tweeted,
During the special, Angel beamed about her new house. "Just to have my own keys -- I am so excited," she said. And while speaking to the New York Post, she urged American executives to appear on the CBS show. "Do it in a heartbeat," she said.
What About The Employees Who Got Fired?
The CBS reunion special also visited some of the more notorious employees who have appeared on the series. Ronnie from Boston Market and Jacqueline from Retro Fitness are the only two workers who have been fired while appearing on the show. Their bosses were simply left with no other option after they saw how poorly the workers had behaved on the job -- in front of cameras.
"I literally hate customers," Ronnie told the camera during his very first appearance. "I just wanted to punch some people in the face," Jacqueline had said.
Yet since last we saw them on "Undercover Boss," they've gone in opposite directions. Ronnie is still unemployed. And he still thinks of himself as a star. On the episode that cost him his job, he called himself the "Kim Kardashian of Boston Market." And in the follow-up? "I am the Shirley Temple of unemployment -- America's sweetheart," he said.
But as he was being interviewed with his family at his side during the reunion, he also displayed some introspection. "Being a diva is not what it's cracked up to be," he said.
Jacqueline, however, has thrown herself into a selfless line of work; she works as an aide in an assisted living home in New Jersey. During the special episode she said that she realizes that she was "young and stupid" during her first appearance on the show. "But I am an adult now ... you live and you learn."
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Dan Fastenberg has more than a decade of experience working as a journalist. Most recently he was a reporter with TIME Magazine covering politics with analyst Mark Halperin. 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. Follow Dan on Twitter. Email Dan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Add Dan to your Google+ circles.more...