The Mentor launches tonight on Seven, the second Seven Studios product out of the gate in the past six days and the third new Seven series in the 9pm slot in a week as the network refreshes what now is almost late-night TV.
Seven Studios executive producer Deb Spinocchia has been pretty busy at Seven. Mediaweek spoke to her last week about Back With The Ex, and today she talks about making The Mentor.
Asked about the two shows being quite different, Spinocchia agreed with a quiet chuckle. “But the format is not unfamiliar to me. Years ago I worked on Undercover Boss and my CV indicates I have been fairly well versed in dealing with business people.”
The premise is pretty simple and the show is filling a 9pm timeslot on Mondays, a timeslot previously filled by The Good Doctor. No pressure!
Each episode business guru Mark Bouris is going into one business, finding the problems and then fixing them in five days. Think Gordon Ramsay, Anthony Melchiorri or Alex Polizzi and the respective work they do for restaurants and hotels on their TV series.
At the end of the program Bouris returns to the business six weeks after the “turnaround” to see how it is progressing.
Mark Bouris and his manager Nick Fordham pitched the idea to Seven and the series is a JV between the broadcaster and team Bouris. “We have worked out the format at our end,” said Spinocchia.
“When I met Mark the question for me was, who is he really? He wanted to make sure he spent a fair bit of time with me to make sure I understood his intentions. He has done some amazing things in his life and he wanted to use The Mentor as an opportunity to give some advice back on a mass scale.
“He wanted to make sure the program uncovers what is wrong with the business. People watching will learn along the way and making a business successful is always a classic story of triumph over adversity, or not if it doesn’t work. There is also a gamble.”
Spinocchia said the producers had something like 3,000 applications to get Bouris to visit their business. “There is obviously a great need which is reassuring for us as storytellers in that it should resonate with an audience.”
Businesses visited by the business guru include real estate, bakers, hair salons and even a mumpreneur. “We had to make sure the different companies had a cast and a business that resonated. The business is your extra character.”
As Spinocchia is a producer who is working on series with people looking for love and looking for money, Mediaweek asked her what was more important to people – love or money?
“The money only makes the romance easier,” she replied with a laugh. “Everybody works hard every day because they want to make their lives better.”
Viewers of The Mentor will not only learn about the business and staff being mentored, but also more about the host. “The series is definitely an eye-opener in his character. He is not like the Mark Bouris we have seen before on television. This is the real deal.”
Spinocchia didn’t spend much time with The Mentor actually going though the books. “It is not usually the books that are the problem – it is many other things. The program touches on dealing with change and leadership. What emerged as we shot the series is that no two stories are the same. Sometimes some tough love is what is needed.