TLC’s New Reality: Bosses In Hot Seat

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TLC may have a new hit on its hands in Now Who’s Boss, a workplace role-reversal show that should appeal to any front-line drone who’s mumbled under his or her breath, “They ought to try doing this for a while!”

The concept is simple: Convince some corporate CEOs and presidents to work at the most basic service-level jobs in their own companies. In the case of Jonathan Tisch, chairman and CEO of Loews Hotels, it meant laboring as a housemaid, pool boy, check-in receptionist or bellboy, among other posts.

For their part, the co-founders of California Pizza Kitchen restaurants had to sling pies and wash mountains of lunchtime dishes. And in an especially humbling moment, John Selvaggio, the president of Delta Airlines subsidiary Song Air Service, had to drain the mysterious blue water from the lavatory of an airliner.

Future execs who will be tasked under the microscope include the senior vice president of Universal Studios Orlando and the president and CEO of Club Med Americas.

Now Who’s Boss combines elements of the successful “behind the scenes” reality subgenre with a little hidden-camera action, as regular employees watch the executives and rate (or berate) their performances. Each of the early series participants seems surprised about just how many details are involved in these seemingly “simple” jobs. The employees certainly get an ego boost watching the boss neglect something as basic as checking the ID of a patron who’s ordered alcohol.

It may have been the presence of the camera crew — or some judicious editing — but no patrons appear to be harmed in the process of dealing with these inept “trainees.” Even a family of 14 newly arrived vacationers from India who find their rooms aren’t ready keep their humor as they are being serviced by a grey-haired bellman with a full camera crew in tow.

And it’s really amusing watching these industry titans living up to the policies they’ve set, such as Selvaggio’s forced attempts to entertain fliers waiting to board and Tisch’s sweaty struggles to make up a room to Loew’s corporate specifications. CPK’s Larry Flax discovers it’s not so easy to live up to server guidelines on greetings, taking drink orders and pushing appetizers when you have to seat four tables of patrons almost simultaneously. He even forgets his chain has a contract with Pepsi, not Coke.

Debuting on TLC on March 8 at 10 p.m. (ET/PT), Now Who’s Boss seems like a can’t-miss concept. Bring on the suits!

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