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TCA — Participants on CBS’ new reality show “Undercover Boss” might have a tough time saying undercover.
In the show, CEOs go incognito working menial jobs in their own companies. Yet the first executive featured in the series, waste management president and CEO Larry O’Donnell, admitted some managers recognized him during the taping. The revelation came after some skeptical critics found his trash hauling employees a bit too friendly and receptive to helping the new guy.
“They all seemed to love the company and love the job,” O’Donnell says. “Everybody truly welcomed me in as a new employee.”
Hmm. Perhaps the boss isn’t the only person on this show putting on an act.
“They would be very good actors if they were pretending,” said executive producer Stephen Lambert, who said that any managers who recognized O’Donnell were told to keep quiet by producers. That assumes, however, that the manager blurted out that they recognized the boss in the first place.
Critics note that once the show debut, the production could have an increasingly difficult time having a camera crew following new employees without any of the workers getting wise to the format.
After all, “Boss” is not going to be a low-profile show — it’s receiving the year’s best time period, with CBS premiering the show after the Super Bowl.
“It’s extraordinary, it’s like winning the jackpot,” Lambert said of the premiere plan. “Having said that, I hope CBS doesn’t expect us to build on the audience.”
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