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TCA Press Tour: 'Secret Millionaire' not an 'Undercover Boss'

August 1, 2010 |  8:15 pm

"Secret Millionaire" may look at first like a variation of CBS' "Undercover Boss," in which a CEO secretly goes undercover at his firm to see his employees at work.

In the new ABC series, selected millionaires are voluntarily whisked away from their lavish lifestyles and take on secret identities as they spend a week helping impoverished people. At the end of the week, they reveal themselves to deserving people they have met and reward them with money and other offerings.

Producers of the new show want to make it clear: Their show has been running in the United Kingdom for six seasons. "We were around long before 'Undercover Boss,' " said executive producer Leslie Garvin.

Some millionaires said they needed to be convinced that the show's intentions were pure.

"I wasn't going to do it," said James Malinchak, who runs a successful marketing and consulting business in San Antonio, TX. "I see a lot of negativity on TV, and I didn't want to be a part of that." He said he grilled producers for several hours when he was first approached about participating in the show.

Said Malinchak: "I was very worried about people being hurt, but I could tell they were really serious. Leslie really wanted us to have life-transforming experiences. I thought I would be just writing checks to deserving people. But it really brought me down for earth, put my feet back on the ground. It proves that riches are a lot more than money."

-- Greg Braxton

[For the record: An earlier version of this post incorrectly stated the company is in Gary, Indiana.]

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