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A&E's 'Be the Boss' Gives Employees a Chance to Win a Franchise

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We’ve all heard stories about the mailroom clerk or janitor who works his way up to senior management.

A new reality show premiering Sunday on A&E puts that premise on fast-forward by giving two low-level employees of national franchises the chance to compete for a promotion. Or so the contestants are led to believe.

Be the Boss, from the producers of CBS reality series Undercover Boss, has a CEO put two employees through a number of challenges related to handling a franchise business. The winner receives an opportunity to become a franchise owner, while the runner-up wins the promotion that the contestants initially were told is the big prize. The show follows two employees from a different company each episode.

Complete Nutrition is featured on the first episode of the series, which also has taped shows focused on Jazzercise, The Melting Pot, Molly Maid, Auntie Anne’s and Signal 88 Security.

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Ann Arbor, Mich.-based cleaning service franchise, Molly Maid will be featured on the December 23 episode. "They came to us and we jumped on it," said president Meg Roberts. The network interviewed and identified two Molly Maid employees as "up and comers," she said.

"You’re anxious when someone wants your brand to be part of reality television," she added. Although she likely won’t be able to view the episode until it airs and the company has no control over the editing of the episode, Roberts said she doesn’t see a downside and enjoyed getting to know the two Molly Maid employees -- Mariana Lima from Austin, Texas, and Janet Brann of Stockbridge, Georgia -- who competed over a week of shooting.  "I can say unequivocally that these two ladies really impressed us," said Roberts.

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Lima, a marketing and sales manager, and Brann, an office manager, participated in three challenges that Roberts characterized as extreme compared to what managers or employees would likely face on a daily basis.

First the contestants had to service a home "in desperate need of cleaning," said Roberts. "It was a little over the top." They also had to put together an event to express gratitude for customers and invite local influential moms to create buzz about it.

Since the outcome of the competition must remain secret until the episode airs, both contestants, one of whom previously cleaned houses, continue to work in their regular jobs for now.

The contestant receiving the promotion will remain in her job while also traveling a few times as year as a Molly Maid field-training executive, and her salary will be three times larger, according to Roberts.

Molly Maid, which has more than 250 franchisees in 500 territories, has been talking to the franchise winner about locations, and hopes to finalize paperwork by early in the second quarter. The prize, which includes the waiver of fees, is worth almost $100,000, said Roberts.

"It’s really an opportunity of a lifetime," said Roberts. "It’s wonderful to be able to grant that gift to someone."

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Dinah Wisenberg Brin

Written By

Dinah Wisenberg Brin is a freelance writer based in Philadelphia. She has covered business, politics, healthcare and general news for wire services, newspapers, blogs and other publications.