Marcus Lemonis Takes on Role of ‘The Renovator’ With New HGTV Series

Marcus Lemonis
Q&A
HGTV

Marcus Lemonis is all about helping people. And with the new HGTV series The Renovator, the entrepreneur-designer brings that effort into the homes of families looking for renovation and transformation while keeping functionality in mind.

Lemonis, a popular fixture over the years on CNBC, gets to know the individuals he meets in each episode. The process then becomes more than just home improvement but home life improvement. He aims to break down walls in a physical and literal sense to rebuild lines of communication.

Here, the proven mogul previews the series as he goes from The Profit to The Renovator.

Where did the idea come from to pivot into doing an HGTV series?

Marcus Lemonis: For a decade I did The Profit, which was working with small businesses across America. I started to see a common thread: When the business was good, there usually was good stability around the home and family. When the business had some struggles, there was the fundamental commonality of a weak foundation at home and with family. As we went through the pandemic, it became more obvious to me the home really needed to be the strongest foundation. We were reading a lot of articles about how people were exploring their new life with their housemates being there all the time. Functionality and issues started to reach the surface.

Those two topics really intersected, which led me to want to address some of the things that I’ve had happen in my own life, my own relationships with my own family, and my own relationships with people in general. We really dig in to find out why the home was so important…I think too often we forget that the maintenance of the home is no different than caring for cash in your bank account. This was all a big departure for me.

What I love about the show is this is not your typical renovation show. The family members are very hands-on with the projects. Whether it’s having the kids help with the landscaping or the parents helping take down a wall, you’re not just getting their feedback. They play an active role in the process.

I made a commitment that we were going to make a renovation show that nobody would expect. Not even the homeowners who think they are getting something like a new kitchen, and all of a sudden, they find out we are modifying everything about their lives and the way they interact with people. In a traditional renovation, a homeowner is not as intimately involved in the process. I wanted the homeowner to understand every single thing we’re going to do is a metaphor — an activity to really create some connection between your partner, your children, or whoever it may be.

Tell me about the first episode.

We’re dealing with a husband and wife who see the world differently. Not only how they keep their things, but how they raise their children. As we go through the process of future episodes, you’ll find I use activities and progress as the linchpin to helping people discover things about themselves or family members or the overall conflict through the process. I’m not always successful, as you’ll find out this season. I involve the kids because I want to teach them lessons about doing their chores and that this house is also theirs. Some of the crew said to me, “These kids are 6 and 9. They’re not listening.” I said, “They are listening. They are a lot smarter than we think.” I want the viewer to say, “We’re going to do this activity as a family because we see what Marcus created with those people. Let’s do that for ourselves.”

How was it showing a new side of yourself in this sort of environment?

Through this show, I’ll also reveal to people in a way I never had before issues I’ve had in my own life, problems I’ve had with my own parents. I use them as an example to this particular father in the first episode to get him to understand the way he is handling things with his kids isn’t going to work. I think people are surprised by the fact I’m opening up in a way that television doesn’t. Particularly, HGTV has not historically explored that. It feels fresh and different, I think.

What were some of the most challenging projects you tackled?

I wanted to make sure I took different families with fundamental issues with their homes and family. We deal with the recovery from death and how difficult it is to move on. We deal with a small space with a new baby coming. We deal with a husband and wife not disclosing their personal finances with the other and discovering hundreds of thousands of dollars of cryptocurrency and assets that are hidden. We’re really touching on these big projects but in every single case, there is an unbelievable wall-to-wall full home renovation. What the homeowners don’t realize is when they are asked not to come back the last couple of days before the house is done, that my wife and I fill the house with all new furniture and accessories and everything to live. Based on their progress, my wife and I provide them with the gift of everything in their house as our sign of gratefulness for their growth and advancement.

Leading up to the premiere, you’ve done a series of social media giveaways including renovation budgets. Talk a little about how you use the platform and the response you’ve been given.

On Twitter specifically, I’ve been known as a serial gifter…Long before the show, you’ll see I’ve done so much on there to spread goodness and goodwill. We’ll giveaway renovations, RVs, and wishes. It all takes the blessings I have as a business person and shares them with people. Social media is a very interesting place because you can see the difference between people who are serial entrants and people who really need help. It has been very eye-opening to me and HGTV, the number of people inspired by good deeds and good acts. There is so much noise on social media that is not necessarily great. There needs to be more noise about people getting a break, a wish granted, an opportunity. Something they’ve dreamed of if they display the right level of professionalism and kindness to others.

Did you get any new ideas about designing your own properties from the experience?

A lot of people don’t realize I’ve renovated a lot of homes and businesses before. The homes I have today I’ve designed myself. I remember when I started the process the folks at HGTV said, “Do we need to get you some design assistance?” I said, “No, I don’t want any help.” All the designs you see and choices made are 100 percent mine. Good or bad, if the homeowner doesn’t like it, that’s on me.

What I did learn more than anything else is that every home has a story that is more than the four corners and four walls of their property. I try to make sure that issues we all deal with on a daily basis are relevant and present, and that we address them head on and expose them with full transparency and resolve them collectively. My goal with this show is to have homeowners see any problem in their house is solvable, and you don’t have to overspend to make changes in the house that are going to change their life. I think the show is going to change the way people think about their homes and their families forever.

The Renovator, Series Premiere, October 11, 8/7c, HGTV (Same Day discovery+)