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Tabatha Coffey is still on a mission to help struggling business owners.
The fifth season of her Bravo reality show, Tabatha Takes Over (formerly Tabatha’s Salon Takeover), will find the Australian stylist continuing to branch out and whip various businesses — not just salons — into shape. Among the places she visits are Bombshells Salon and Spa in Clarksville, Tenn.; Cafe Treats and Mexican Food in Sherman Oaks, Calif.; Nadia’s Family Salon in Englishtown, N.J.; and VIP Nightclub and Restaurant in Riverside, Calif.
Ahead of the season premiere, airing at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Thursday, Coffey talked to The Hollywood Reporter about what’s new this season, how the businesses are chosen and whether anything still surprises her after five seasons.
THR: What can viewers expect to see this season?
Coffey: What we did for season five, which is what we started in season four and have continued, is expanding out from the beauty industry and go into small businesses. During the preseasons and still today, I get so many emails from so many difference businesses, people who run automechanics and doctor’s offices and cafes and bed and breakfasts, entrepreneurs and business owners, who are really struggling and want help and enjoy watching the show. It seemed like a natural expansion to go into other businesses as well.
THR: Will we see anything new for the upcoming season that you haven’t done before?
Coffey: Viewers that are already fans of watching the show and have their favorites businesses, we will be doing a little bit more on those. We’ll be doing recaps of some of their favorite episodes from the last four seasons, going in and checking on people and seeing how they’re doing today. And you also will see me butt heads with several people this season.
THR: What’s your approach when you’re going into these places that need help?
Coffey: Some people would argue that I’m tougher than hairdressers than anyone else. I don’t know if I always agree, but there might be some truth to that. I love going into other businesses with a really objective eye and looking at what would I want as a manager and owner — how does the staff feel like they are being treated, what is the brand messaging, how is the staff behaving — but also as a consumer. I’m just as much a consumer as anyone who watches the show. I look at the way I’m being treated and at the product being given to me.
THR: How do you find and select the business owners that you visit?
Coffey: It’s a combination of links on the site and daily letters and emails that I get. I get emails daily of people writing to me asking for help, and I make sure to keep them all. People sometimes don’t hear from me directly, but I do keep emails from everyone. Bravo gets a stack of emails as well. By the time we start [preparing] for a new season, we already have a great pool of people asking for help.
THR: Do you have a hand in choosing the business owners?
Coffey: I do. I’m really actually very lucky. I’m an executive producer of the show, and I take that really seriously. I’m very involved in the process, and Bravo has always been incredibly supportive of that. These businesses really do need to be fixed, and viewers at home get something out of the process as well.
THR: Was there any one place that stood out this season?
Coffey: They all do. For me, it’s hard because some of them have much higher financial stakes, we’re talking $150,000 worth of debt — that’s nothing to sneeze at. It’s a lot of money. Some debts may not be as much or not seem as high, but personal relationships are being destroyed, or lives are being destroyed because of the pressure these people are under. Each one stands out to me in different ways. Some of them just need structure and guidance. I never want to see anyone lose it.
THR: Do you in touch with the people who’ve appeared on the show?
Coffey: Absolutely I do. A lot of owners of all four previous seasons reach out to me, and we keep in touch. They ask for advice or guidance, and I check in with them as well. I’m really invested in these people, and it’s great to hear about their success.
THR: Does anything surprise you after doing this for so many years?
Coffey: Honestly, I always say this, that I never thing anything is going to surprise me, and something always surprises me. The thing I love about the show, and the thing I love about people, is helping them turn their businesses around. Things always surprise me, whether it’s the behavior of people or the struggles they are going through. There are real stakes at risk for these people, who are struggling to keep their doors open and pay their bills. I’m always mindful of that. I just hope that everyone really enjoys the season as much as I enjoy helping the businesses, and I’m thankful to them that they let me in to help turn things around for them. And anyone who follows me knows that every Thursday night is Twitter date night, with live tweeting during the show.
Watch a preview of Tabatha Takes Over below.
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