When Marcus Lemonis stopped by Rose’s Wheat-Free Bakery & Cafe in Evanston a year and a half ago, the Lake Forest resident was happy to be one of its customers.
When the restaurant's business started lagging in December and it looked like it would have to close, Lemonis was happy to buy it.
"I liked the product," Lemonis explained about his decision to spend over $200,000 buying Rose's.
Lemonis isn't your typical North Shore resident, and he's certainly not your typical millionaire. The 39-year-old was born in Lebanon during wartime and was adopted from a Beirut orphanage by an American family that moved him to Miami, Fla. He attended Marquette University in Milwaukee. He says he was an average student at school, but he's certainly performed above average professionally. Soon after he went into the RV and camping gear business, where he made his fortune.
"The bulk of my wealth has been earned," Lemonis said, "I'm self-made. No, there's been no inheritance. … I've been very blessed in the RV/camping business."
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Recently, Lemonis has gotten into the unique habit of finding businesses that interest him and are struggling, and then buying them. This process will be the focus of a new CNBC program debuting this summer. The channel will air eight episodes about Lemonis as he invests $2 million into various struggling businesses.
In addition to Rose's Wheat Free Bakery in Evanston, he said he's done this with close to 50 businesses in the past six years, though Lemonis himself isn't exactly sure what the number is.
"To this day I have never had a business fail," Lemonis said.
One of his conditions is that no one loses their jobs.
"I never buy a business that doesn't have good people," Lemonis said. "I'm never cost cutting."
Lemonis' thinking is that these businesses are good ideas, but lack the capital to see themselves through till they start turning a profit.
"When you open businesses that are new in concept, you have to be able to have the staying power, the commitment financially to accept things don't work the way you planned them to," Lemonis said.
Lemonis insists he isn't a restaurateur, and that he often defers to the staff he maintains in the businesses he buys. At this point however, he has earned the title of "business turnaround master," at least according to CNBC.
"I'm very excited," Lemonis said about the upcoming show, which already filmed its first episode. Unsurprisingly, he's most excited to hear from the network what businesses he'll be helping. "I just show up and that's it, off to the races."