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How undercover is Undercover Boss?

By Lisa Goldsberry

1024px-Eric_Everard,_CEO_Artexis_Group-936409-edited.jpgAxia Public Relations uses its success with the show to give you the facts


The boss of a large corporation dons a disguise to get honest feedback from employees about what’s really going on in the company. Employees think that cameras are filming because the undercover boss is part of some kind of contest. Millions tune in to the hit CBS reality show Undercover Boss. Many may wonder, “Do the unsuspecting employees really not know?” and, “Even with the disguise, why don't they recognize the CEO of their organization?” It begs the question: How undercover is Undercover Boss?

Undercover Boss provides a good way for top executives to get the inside scoop on their organization and affect true, necessary changes. Along the way, bosses learn what it’s actually like to work at their companies and the challenges their employees face. And, the CEO has a chance to reward these staffers with something they genuinely need. Axia Public Relations has success in getting companies on Undercover Boss, so we can give you the lowdown on the process, separate fact from fiction and show you how to achieve the same benefits for your company.


Why do the bosses always have to perform the dirtiest, hardest, or most menial tasks possible?

The show’s producers want the bosses to see all facets of their company, and at the end of the day, it’s all about what makes good television. Making someone who sits behind a desk wearing a business suit every day scrub a cesspool is shocking and entertaining. The bosses are not told in advance in which department they’ll be working or what they’ll be doing so that their experiences and reactions are authentic.


Do the participating employees face real consequences or is it all for show?

While the Undercover Boss producers do plenty of scouting beforehand to decide who will participate, the resulting situations are entirely sincere. Employees who get fired for inappropriate behavior are actually fired.


How are the employees chosen?

Some people believe that the show’s producers choose only the most naive employees to participate. After all, with cameras rolling, why would anyone disparage their company, mistreat customers or reveal their most intimate pain to a total stranger? The truth is the producers look for people with a compelling story and tough circumstances. If that story somehow corresponds to something in the boss' past, that’s even better. By and large, making a good show is what it’s all about.


Are all those enlightening, heartfelt moments genuine?

Viewers of the show love to see the bosses humbled by their experiences or watch regular, front-line employees effect change in their organization. You’ll be pleased to know that these occurrences are the real deal. While, as a condition of the show, bosses must agree to give up to $200,000 in rewards to employees, the emotions are truthful. There have also been bosses who gave more. And companies make lasting adjustments as a result of appearing on the show and having conversations with employees.


Can any company be part of Undercover Boss?

The show has several criteria for the companies featured on the show. This criteria are flexible if the company has a great story and the boss has a good reason for wanting to go undercover. Currently, eligible companies must have more than 500 employees, more than $100 million in revenue, and a willing boss who agrees to give up approximately 10 days of his or her time for filming. If your company fits these qualifications, you can apply. And if it doesn’t, there are still ways you can replicate the experience.


Axia Public Relations has been successful in getting national television exposure for its clients and CEOs on Undercover Boss and elsewhere. 


We help companies get the bosses on the show.

  • We do not produce the show nor do we select the employees the show features.
  • If you have the influence in your company to help your boss get on the show, keep it a closely held secret and have the boss contact our company.

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Lisa-G-Color-SM.jpgLisa Goldsberry is a blogger for Axia Public Relations with more than 15 years of public relations experience. She specializes in business and technology PR. Lisa has worked for Axia since December 2013. Learn more about Lisa Goldsberry. Connect with Axia on Twitter @axiapr or tell us what you think in the comments below.






Featured image credit: Creative Commons

Topics: public relations, Undercover Boss

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