TV Review: The Profit's Mr Nice Guy's formula does the trick
From Dragons' Den to The Apprentice franchise, television has made business suits and profit and loss sheets into watchable television and business people into celebrities. So, it's no surprise to see another business-based reality series, The Profit (Tuesdays, 9.30pm, TV One) popping up.
It follows self-made millionaire Marcus Lemonis swooping down on ailing businesses, showcasing their foibles on television and then setting them on the path of profitability.
In the first episode, Farrell's Ice Cream Parlour ticks all the boxes for needing help. It's losing money, buys in cheap icecream and sells it as its own, has a gazillion items on the menu, and so on. Even the Happy Birthday song staff sing to customers is less a jolly celebration and more a bellowing, overly long disturbance screamed in your ear as you wolf down your icecream parlour fish tacos – item 6500 on the menu. Owners Tony and Mike have clearly never seen an episode of Kitchen Nightmares because if they had, surely they would have recognised the many, many warning flags in their business.
But Lemonis helps them all through it and to be fair, if you've got to have a slick millionaire highlight your incompetence on television – well, he seems nicer than many. Sure, he hams it up a bit with mock puzzled expressions when faced with less than clear answers on the company's financial details. And he does some straight talking calling out people's attitudes. But he doesn't humiliate them completely.
Now you might think this all sounds rather familiar, and you'd be absolutely right. It's like a sort of Kitchen Nightmares with a smattering of Dragons' Den as, to be fair, Lemonis does invest his own money in these businesses. There's really not an original shred of anything much here.
And yet, I admit, I was drawn into it. I really wanted to know why the HR manager, with her angry pursed lips and worry about customers making a "mess", was in charge of marketing the restaurant's candy store. These are the human stories that make business series watchable, and while the format might be well worn it does the trick.
It's a trick that's notably absent in four-part documentary series Where It Comes From (Thursdays, 9.30pm, Choice TV). This takes a different angle on the business world – tracking all the junk we buy that gets shipped around the world. Okay, maybe some of it's not junk, maybe it's really important stuff but we wouldn't know because all we get to see (or should that be sea?) is shipping containers. So many shipping containers.
We see the Spanish port of Algeciras, where a massive container terminal deals with 45,000 shipping containers a week. Then we're aboard one of the biggest container ships in the world, 400 metres long and 60m wide. There are mind-boggling numbers aplenty.
But there are also lots of shots of a container ship on an endless sea under bleak grey skies. It's exactly as dull as it sounds.