'Undercover Boss': Menchie's CEO Amit Kleinberger Decides To Stick With Rotten Worker
'I am just going to start calling you Jeeves.'
A career in the armed forces famously provides good training for a future life in the civilian workforce. At its best, such a background can provide an appreciation for personal discipline and a strong work ethic, among other virtues. In the case of Amit Kleinberger, the CEO and co-owner of the frozen yogurt chain Menchie's, the rearing took place in Israel when Kleinberger served as a commander for the Israeli Defense Forces. And as he shared on the most recent episode of "Undercover Boss," Kleinberger had a brush with death during his years of service when a bus of soldiers he was supervising was hijacked.
He was only 20 years old at the time, and survived the incident. He proceeded to move next to Los Angeles, and at 33 has become the youngest boss to appear on the hit CBS series, now well into its fifth season. And after seeing him in action, it wasn't hard to believe why he rose in the manner he has. When his wife Carrie asked him during the introduction where he'd like to go on vacation next, he said he'd like to go wherever the most Menchie's stores are located.
Given such a background of manifest grit and gumption, it would be easy to imagine Kleinberger wouldn't take kindly to coming across a brat in his ranks at Menchie's. Because he did, and her name was Drew. A shift lead supervisor for a Menchie's located in Bonney Lake, Wa., Drew shirked the caretaking required of a mentor for her trainee named "Allen Stein," an aspiring entrepreneur from Johannesburg, South Africa, allegedly appearing on a second chances reality show.
Drew failed to walk "Allen" through the "steps of cleaning up," Kleinberger pointed out to the camera. But that was the least of it. As can be seen in the video above, Drew had an imperiousness about her that was way out of whack with her station. "I am just going to start calling you Jeeves," Drew told "Allen," in a half-joking, aka not-joking-at all tone. "Jeeves, get the slicer," she added, as can be seen in the video above.
Drew also displayed an attitude that would give any drill sergeant a fit. She said working at Menchie's "sucks," and that "pretty people shouldn't have to work." As for her, the plan was to simply marry a plastic surgeon, and so she needed to make money so she could pay for her tanning sessions, which, as the logic goes, is helpful in bagging the MD. This poor doctor -- is he to be blinded by her artificial luster, unable to see her true colors? Indeed, for Drew, it's "melanoma or bust," she said about her mission to secure a good glow. The attitude "may or may not be superficial, I don't really give a s***," she acknowledged.
Employers are well within their right to be be repulsed by a worker's attitude if they determine it causes a drain on their workplace. And even in spite of such obvious obnoxiousness, the no-nonsense Kleinberger decided to be lenient with Drew.
He offered Drew a second chance. He wanted her to have more training and the opportunity to shadow some of the company's top shift leaders. And she accepted the offer, almost as if it were owed to her. She did concede the experience was a "wake-up" call.
Other disappointing workers have not been as fortunate as Drew was. Earlier this season, Aaron, a delivery boy for Donatos Pizza, unknowingly admitted to the CEO of his company he often puffs on some marijuana while making his deliveries. Company CEO Jane Grote Abell told him in the reveal, "I have to let you go as a delivery driver." But in spite of his pot penchant, Aaron displayed a hustle while on the job, and so she gave him a second chance, saying he could return to the kitchen if he passed a drug test in 30 days.
Other workers who have appeared on the show have been fired outright. There was Jacqueline, an employee of a Retro Fitness gym in New Jersey. She was canned after she defended her choice to play on her smart phone during her shift by saying, "I am not a f------ slave!"
Eye on number one
But for Kleinberger, the calm and even hand had an unfortunate downside; he was labelled a "stiff" by his workers on the show. Should he have maybe gotten a little more riled up by a Drew? Dylan, a lead shift member in Seattle, said "Allen" was "dull," and failed to "make [his] voice loud enough" for the customers. Jennifer, a team member in El Paso, Texas, was not impressed with "Allen's" moves when helping to host a child's birthday party. His moves made him look like he wanted "to go to the restroom," she said. "Talking to 'Allen' is like talking to a yogurt machine," the wry Drew added during her appearance.
No doubt, Kleinberger had a singular focus on the business mission at hand. His company already has 337 stores, and he wants to double the figure in the next year. "I always believe in being number one," he said. "Number two is great, but number one is better."
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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