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Undercover Boss (U.S. TV series)

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Title: Undercover Boss (U.S. TV series)  
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Subject: 2012–13 United States network television schedule, 2013–14 United States network television schedule, 2010–11 United States network television schedule, Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution, 60 Minutes
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Undercover Boss (U.S. TV series)

Undercover Boss
Genre Reality
Created by Stephen Lambert
Based on Undercover Boss (franchise)
Narrated by Mark Keller
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 5
No. of episodes 76 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s)
Camera setup Multiple
Running time 42 minutes
Production company(s) Studio Lambert
Original channel CBS
Picture format 1080i (16:9 HDTV)
Audio format Stereo
Original run February 7, 2010 (2010-02-07) – present
External links
Production website

Undercover Boss is an American reality television series, based on the British series of the same name and produced by Studio Lambert in both countries. Each episode depicts a person who has an upper-management position at a major business, deciding to go undercover as an entry-level employee to discover the faults in the company. The first season consisted of nine episodes produced in 2009 and first aired on February 7, 2010, on CBS.[1] Companies that appear on the series are assured that the show will not damage their corporate brand.[2]


The first episode premiered on February 7, 2010 after Super Bowl XLIV and featured Larry O'Donnell, President and Chief Operating Officer of Waste Management, Inc.[3] The series was a ratings success for the network, with its premiere episode receiving 38.6 million viewers and a share of 32 percent.[4] The first season was the most popular new show in any genre in the 2009–10 television season with an average audience of 17.7 million viewers.[5]

On March 9, 2010, CBS announced it had commissioned Undercover Boss for a second season.[6][7] On July 28, CBS announced four company executives had signed up for the second season, from NASCAR, DirecTV, Chiquita Brands International, and Great Wolf Lodge, Inc.[8] The second season opener featured the Choice Hotels CEO, Steve Joyce on September 26, 2010. The season two premiere drew 11.02 million, down 27.58 million from the previous season's premiere, and with a 9.55% share, the episode ranked number 2 against its major competition consisting of Sunday Night Football on NBC and Brothers & Sisters on ABC.[9] The second season averaged 12.158 million viewers[10] and the third season, which saw the show move from Sunday to the less popular Friday night, attracted an average of 9.347 million viewers.[11] CBS ordered a fourth season in March 2012[12] and a fifth season was confirmed in March 2013.[13]

The series received Emmy Awards nominations for Outstanding Reality Program in 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013, winning the category in 2012 and 2013.

Reruns of Undercover Boss have been picked up by TLC and the Oprah Winfrey Network. Broadcasts on TLC began on July 25, 2011, initially Mondays at 8PM ET, later moving to Thursdays at 9PM ET. OWN has also broadcast repeats of Undercover Boss since the fall of 2011.[14]

On March 13, 2014, CBS announced the sixth season renewal of Undercover Boss.[15] CBS announced the new season will be a 3 night special premiere beginning December 14, 2014.


Each episode features a high-positioned executive or the owner of a corporation going undercover as an entry-level employee in their own company. The executive changes appearance and assumes an alias and fictional back-story. The fictitious explanation for the accompanying camera crew is that the executive is being filmed as part of a documentary about entry-level workers in a particular industry. They spend approximately one week undercover, working in various areas of the company's operations, with a different job and in most cases a different location each day. The boss is exposed to a series of predicaments with amusing results and invariably spends time getting to know selected company employees, learning about their professional and personal challenges.

At the end of the undercover week, the boss returns to his or her true identity and calls in the selected employees to the corporate headquarters. The boss rewards hardworking employees through campaign, promotion or financial rewards. Other employees are given training or better working conditions.

The show's producers determine what companies will be featured, what jobs the bosses will do, and which employees and which situations will be shown. The company has no control over what airs, although a promise is made the companies' reputations will not be hurt.[16] Neither the company nor its executive receive money from, or give money to, CBS or the show's producers.[17]


Season No. of
Originally aired
Season premiere Season finale
1 9 February 7, 2010 (2010-02-07) April 11, 2010 (2010-04-11)
2 22 September 26, 2010 (2010-09-26) May 1, 2011 (2011-05-01)
3 13 January 15, 2012 (2012-01-15) May 11, 2012 (2012-05-11)
4 17 November 2, 2012 (2012-11-02) May 17, 2013 (2013-05-17)
5 15 September 27, 2013 (2013-09-27) March 14, 2014 (2014-03-14)


CBS's premiere of Undercover Boss on February 7, 2010, immediately following the network's coverage of Super Bowl XLIV, delivered 38.6 million viewers—the largest audience ever for a new series following the Super Bowl since the advent of people meters in 1987, the largest audience ever to watch the premiere episode of a reality series, the most watched new series premiere overall on television since Dolly on September 27, 1987 (39.47 million), and the third largest post-Super Bowl audience behind Friends Special on January 28, 1996 and Survivor: The Australian Outback on January 28, 2001.[18]

Undercover Boss received mixed reviews; most held good words for the opening episode, but some criticized elements of the show's format. The New York Daily News praised the concept as "simple and brilliant" and "an hour of feel-good television for underappreciated workers."[19] Reviewers with the Chicago Sun-Times[20] and the New York Times complimented the opening episode, although the latter had reservations on Waste Management, Inc COO Lawrence O’Donnell III's plan to create a task force to address the problems he found: "Larry’s plans to reform his company and humanize the workplace seem great, until he starts to order up committees to study what he has learned. So many good intentions have gone to die in task forces, off-site meetings and mentoring programs."[21] "The show is a welcome change from reality concepts based on humiliating people," concluded the Wall Street Journal.[22] "It is emotionally stirring, with catharsis and messages of virtue rewarded and lessons learned for the betterment of all," said the Baltimore Sun.[23]

The [25] but in another review described the show as "irresistible."[26] The Los Angeles Times believed that it was deriving its idea from Fox's Secret Millionaire (also created by Stephen Lambert[27]) and that it was 'cooked' for TV, with the low-level workers being hand-picked, but conceded that the show is "undeniably touching".[28]

Arianna Huffington noted, "In the 19th century, one of the most effective ways to convey the quiet desperation of the working class to a wide audience was via a realistic novel. In 2010, it's through reality TV. And Undercover Boss has clearly touched a nerve with viewers. Last week [February 28 - March 6, 2010], only the Olympics and American Idol scored higher in the ratings."[29]

In an end of season review, the New York Times's chief television critic, Alessandra Stanley, examined the unexpected success of the show and concluded that "it’s the humility of the workers, their genuine astonishment and thankfulness over small acts of benevolence, that is most striking. If nothing else, Undercover Boss is a reminder that in bad times, people are less eager to confront or provoke authority; mostly they wish for small favors and the big, serendipitous strokes of luck."[30]


  1. ^ Draper, Danny (February 10, 2010). "Undercover Boss coming to Ten". What' Archived from the original on October 20, 2010. Retrieved October 30, 2014. 
  2. ^ Bryson, Emily (February 15, 2010). "'"7-Eleven, Hooters, Others Take Risk in 'Undercover Boss. Retrieved April 20, 2013. 
  3. ^ Seidman, Robert (December 20, 2009). "CBS picks "Undercover Boss" for post-Super Bowl slot". Retrieved October 30, 2014. 
  4. ^ Seidman, Robert (February 9, 2010). "TV Ratings: Super Bowl XIV post game and Undercover Boss dominate weekly viewing". Retrieved October 30, 2014. 
  6. ^ "CBS renews 'Undercover Boss' for second season". The Live Feed. March 9, 2010. Retrieved May 21, 2010. 
  7. ^ Fernandez, Maria-Elena (March 22, 2010). "'"The rewards of hanging with the 'Undercover Boss.  
  8. ^ Serjeant, Jill (July 28, 2010). "NASCAR, DirecTV sign up for "Undercover Boss" TV show".  
  9. ^ "TV Ratings: TV Ratings: Sunday Night Football Wins; Simpsons, Cleveland Show, Family Guy, Makeover, Housewives All Down vs. Last Season’s Premieres". September 27, 2010. Retrieved September 29, 2010. 
  10. ^ Andreeva, Nellie. "Full 2010-2011 TV Season Series Rankings". Retrieved April 20, 2013. 
  11. ^ Andreeva, Nellie. "Full 2011-2012 TV Season Series Rankings". Retrieved April 20, 2013. 
  12. ^ The Good Wife,' 'Blue Bloods,' 'Undercover Boss' And More Get Early Pickups From CBS"'". March 14, 2012. Retrieved April 20, 2013. 
  13. ^ "CBS renews top shows". March 28, 2013. Retrieved April 20, 2013. 
  14. ^ Guthrie, Marisa (July 11, 2011). "'"OWN, TLC Pick Up Reruns of 'Undercover Boss. The Hollywood Reporter. 
  15. ^ Kondolojy, Amanda (March 13, 2014). "CBS Renews 'The Good Wife', 'The Millers', 'Two and a Half Men', 'Hawaii Five-0', 'Mom', 'Blue Bloods', 'Elementary' and 11 More". TV by the Numbers (Press release). Retrieved March 13, 2014. 
  16. ^ York, Emily Bryson and Bush, Michael, "What It Takes to Be an 'Undercover Boss'", Advertising Age. February 15, 2010, Vol. 81 Issue 7.
  17. ^ Owen, Rob (July 22, 2011). "TV Q&A: 'The Big C' + 'The Closer' + Verizon changes".  
  18. ^ Undercover Boss Marks Biggest New Series Premiere Since 1987
  19. ^ Hinckley, David (February 6, 2010). "CBS' 'Undercover Boss' is an hour of feel-good television for underappreciated workers".  
  20. ^ Wiser, Paige (February 5, 2010). "'"Quite a kickoff for 'Boss.  
  21. ^ Stanley, Alessandra (February 5, 2010). "He's Good at Pushing Paper, but Can He Pick Up Trash?".  
  22. ^ Chozick, Amy (February 5, 2010). "The CEO Wears Coveralls".  
  23. ^ Zurawik, David (February 7, 2010). Undercover Boss' makes a case for CEO as hero"'".  
  24. ^ Stuever, Hank (February 7, 2010). "TV preview of 'Undercover Boss' on CBS".  
  25. ^ Tucker, Ken (February 7, 2010). Undercover Boss' review: Literally crappy reality TV"'".  
  26. ^ Tucker, Ken (February 14, 2010). Undercover Boss': Deep inside Hooters"'".  
  27. ^ Eureka!: The Secret Millionaire (RDF for C4) | In-depth | Broadcast
  28. ^ McNamara, Mary (February 6, 2010). "The reality series puts CEOs incognito amid low-level employees in their companies".  
  29. ^ Arianna, Huffington (March 8, 2010). "Is Undercover Boss the Most Subversive Show on Television?". Huffington Post. Retrieved August 8, 2010. 
  30. ^ Stanley, Alessandra (April 9, 2010). "Reality TV That Puts the Boss in Meek’s Clothing". New York Times. Retrieved August 8, 2010. 

External links

Preceded by
The Office
Undercover Boss
Super Bowl lead-out program
Succeeded by
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