Just when you think you've seen it all on "Undercover Boss," somebody does something so outrageous that the entire show (and part of the featured business) is quite literally stopped. This week, one employee is so nervous he's reduced to tears -- and so will be many of the viewers. Rick Silva, the President and CEO of burger purveyors Checkers and Rally's, experiences such an awkward situation that he has to reveal his identity and shut down an entire restaurant.
If you ever doubted that employees are unaware that they're working with their CEO, you'll become a believer this week, when you see a manager berate his staffers, and watch a denigrated employee break down in tears at the prospect of losing his job. In addition, you'll never again make jokes at a fast food worker's expense. This episode shows them to be extremely hard workers who value and take pride in their jobs, even if they're making under $9 an hour after working several years for the company.
CBS was up to the challenge of airing an extremely arresting episode of "Undercover Boss" on its first outing on Friday night. In the past, the series has had a comfy Sunday night slot, but this week, on February 17, it will air at 8:00 pm ET/PT. The Checkers and Rally's episode doesn't disappoint. As a matter of fact, there's so much drama that at one point Silva appears concerned about continuing.
"My expectation is perfection," Silva says in the beginning. "I love to win, and I hate to lose." Working undercover helps him realize that he needs to put programs into place so that more of his employees feel like winners too. He goes as far as to take responsibility for some of the controversial behavior, which I personally found quite amazing. That had to be a tough one to take for the team.
"That's the reality, and the beauty, of unscripted television," Stephen Lambert told me. "You never quite know how someone is going to react." Lambert is the founder of Studio Lambert, which created "Undercover Boss." The show is not just big in the US, but has caught on internationally. It originated in Great Britain, and now they're making their own versions in Germany, Australia, Canada and in several other countries. He notes that unpredictability is also the great challenge, because you never know exactly what people are going to say, and if you ask them to repeat something, "it just dies." Lambert notes that there's a great risk that what they film will be unacceptable to the network, or to the viewers, or that it will be "just plain boring."
Over the next three weeks, you'll see even more authentic spontaneity, as bosses from American Seafoods, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen and Oriental Trading Company all go undercover. And in the meantime, you'll want to show a little respect and kindness to the person who's taking your order and preparing your meal at your favorite fast food restaurant. Once you go undercover, you'll be enlightened.
- Undercover Boss