Typically, CBS's Undercover Boss features owners, managers, and CEOs as they don dime-store disguises and infiltrate the ranks of their own unsuspecting employees. But this week, the popular reality show is shaking up the formula, as returning bosses send workers into the fray to check up on the policies they implemented after their first undercover stint. Will their elaborate spy games pay off, or is this one mission that might prove to be impossible?
Returning Boss alumni include Menchie's CEO Amit Kleinberger, Postnet CEO Steve Greenbaum, and Twin Peaks co-founder Randy DeWitt, the "breastaurant" bigwig who previously promised a server $5,000 if she stopped swearing on the job. "Don't do it right!" DeWitt groans in the episode's teaser, coaching a disguised employee by earpiece.
All three have concrete reasons for returning to the show. Undercover Boss episodes tend to wrap up on a sunny note, hopeful that the featured employers can channel their experiences (or humiliations) into meaningful strategies for improving their workplace. But reality TV is one thing; actual reality is another. Kleinberger, for example, might've had a great experience going undercover, but his company has since been beset by rogue shift leaders and other rifts in the Menchie's culture.
Like DeWitt and Greenbaum, Kleinberger is far too visible to risk going undercover for a second time. That's where the employees come in. It's an historic first for the show, which has previously kept workers in the dark about covert affairs; perhaps it's only fair repayment for the life-changing kindnesses typically bestowed upon employees at the end of most Boss episodes. What, you thought working hard was enough?
But the bosses won't be the only familiar faces--you may also recognize some of the employees from past episodes. Belton, a PostNet worker given free culinary classes by Greenbaum, is now working as a professional chef, but Friday's episode will find him returning to the fold in investigative capacity. Marissa, better known as the world's most profane server, will also be back. While she might curse like a sailor, her boss may make a spy of her yet. Maybe she can hide a camera in that restaurant-mandated cleavage of hers.
Undercover Boss airs Fridays at 8:00 ET on CBS. Tune in Monday at AOL Jobs for our exclusive recaps and expert analysis.