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Lake Forest Millionaire Gets His Own TV Show

Marcus Lemonis made his fortune in the RV industry, and since then has made a name for himself breathing new life into struggling businesses. He recently filmed one of episodes of a television series that will air on CNBC.

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."

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Susan Schreiber January 11, 2013 at 04:57 PM
I look forward to seeing the series. When will the first episode be aired?
Rebecca January 12, 2013 at 01:55 AM
I heard he is also bailing out the folks who put in that Raw food place. They did not pa their bills and its bad. I saw police out there the other day.
john January 13, 2013 at 10:15 PM
The raw place paid all of its bills. He tries to steal businesses that aren't necessarily in dire straits, just where he can manipulate and misrepresent..
john January 13, 2013 at 10:17 PM
Police were keepng him out
Caylee January 21, 2013 at 04:52 AM
The raw place caught him trying to steal the business and quickly kicked him out. The business is doing great - better than ever. Cops have been there to protect the owners, employees as well as its customers.
Adam Ginsberg January 22, 2013 at 04:32 AM
Visited In the Raw today for lunch with coworkers and was pleased to see that the restaurant was not only almost full to capacity, but that we had to wait 20 minutes. At any other restaurant we would have left and gone down the street, but the staff and owner were so accommodating - they passed out juice and pastry samples while we waited - best I have ever had: this restaurant certainly can pay its bills and is doing remarkably well as I witnessed first hand today. Please note: during our wait we had the opportunity to speak with other guests. Heard many conflicting stories of supposed changes in ownership. After coming home tonight and doing research, I was ultimately disturbed by the supposed new owner - Marcus Lemonis - who not only preys on small businesses run by women (as I gathered from my research upon his last few purchases) but this seems to be a common theme for his upcoming endeavors (i.e, Rose's Bakery in Evanston - mentioned above). While I hope he can certainly turn his act around for his new and upcoming show, I am horrified by his strategy to help businesses in need.

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