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Should You Team Up With The Partner?

The Profit gets competitive as Marcus Lemonis shows The Apprentice how it's done. Get on board!

What is this thing?

The Profit meets The Apprentice. Not that anyone involved with the former will appreciate the reference to the latter, but it really is as simple as that.

When is it on?

Tuesdays at 10 PM on CNBC.

Why now?

The Profit does extraordinarily well for CNBC, I think -- but it's also done well enough for Lemonis's portfolio that, as he says in the premiere's intro, he needs a hand (or seven) running everything he's invested in since the beginning of The Profit.

And while I doubt the fortunes of The Apprentice had much, if anything, to do with the conception and timing of The Partner, The Partner is run by an actual businessman and entrepreneur with a proven track record, versus a narcissistic dilettante with more catchphrases than cash on the barrel; its entire existence is kind of a subtweet, whether intentional or not, at the parent network's grubby, starfucky "original." The Apprentice was once upon a time a pretty interesting idea for a show/social experiment, but in the end, it was always about Trump. This is about the job and what it actually means to do business, and there are no H-list celebrities or kludgy cross-branding "opportunities."

What's its pedigree?

Lemonis, of course, and he continues as host here. Machete Productions produces both of his shows plus WAGS, Treasure Detectives, and other less...formal? programming.

...And?

It's The Profit meets The Apprentice. Either you want to see how Lemonis might realize competitive biz-dev reality show, and how his production team might find genuine uncontrived drama in the fight to score a high-profile six-figure job that requires about fourteen different skill sets; or you don't.

I think you actually do, for a few reasons. First, Lemonis is just his usual straightforward, Lemoji-ing self

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and doesn't do a lot of self-serious faffing around with announcements and explanations of the rules. The concept is very simple -- the prospective Partner who makes it through to the end will get a half-million-dollar contract and an equity stake in Lemonis's businesses -- and Lemonis is direct about explaining his concerns with each candidate, and why s/he's getting cut.

And the whole season is five episodes. CNBC has "respectfully" asked that I not reveal the outcome of any episodes in advance of air, so with that same respect I'll merely note that the premiere begins with ten candidates, and that The Partner does not seem to share the same priorities as, say, a Bachelor or ANTM re: keeping unprepared or fragile candidates around for the sake of drama. You're smart, you can draw your own conclusions.

I'll also note that, as I implied above, the situation as structured has plenty of narrative baked right into it, and a cringe factor still remains -- but in a good way. After a coffee-and-cronuts meet-and-greet to start the ep, the final ten react to Lemonis's arrival in the hotel conference room with a group squee, and converge on him for a hug, as seen in our lead photo. Not the direction I'd have gone with it if I were there for an extended televised job interview, and not the response I expected from this cast, which is a refreshingly heterogenous group of accomplished people and not the indistinguishable clot of 24-year-old actor/bartender/yoga instructors you get on the average season of Survivor.

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Then they're thrown into a pitch sitch that involves a crowded, harshly lit boardroom, and most of them freeze up: repeat themselves, oversalt their personal statements with meaningless verbal tics like "quite frankly," can't give specifics when asked. It's a smart way to figure out who's good under pressure and off the cuff, and who might struggle to lead without Lemonis's guiding hand.

...But?

No buts, really. Okay, I'd like to have a word with Peilin Pratt about how many damn emails Candy Warehouse is still sending me after I bought one lousy bag of red-hots in, like, 2008 -- but you can't argue with the brand recognition, I guess. I could argue with the editing in a couple of places, when it seems to gin up the deer-in-headlights-ing unnecessarily, but I guess there's only so many aspects of garden-variety competition reality you can jettison if you're not on premium cable.

...So?

It's only five episodes, so even if the tantalizing "this season on"s misled me as to various promised meltdowns, it's not a huge commitment. I'm in.

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