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Cringe-worthy family business stories

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Business + Family = Drama

Marcus Lemonis, star of CNBC's "The Profit," calls family businesses "the lifeblood of this country." He should know, since he got his start in his family's business after graduating from college.

Working in a family business can offer a level of support that you don't get among coworkers that you meet by chance. It can also make unpleasant dynamics seep into the office, and when you add in workplace drama such as deadlines, payroll and balancing the books, the combination can be overwhelming. Something, somewhere, will crack.

Ellen Rohr is a small-business expert whose primary niche is what she calls "dirty jobs," such as plumbing, heating and electrical businesses. Many of these happen to be family businesses, and she sees certain dynamics play out again and again when she works with them.

"What happens so often is the husband goes off to turn wrenches," she said. "And his wife says, 'This paperwork's never going to get done, so I'll help you.'"

She referred to this as the "I was just helping" mentality, and while it originates from good intentions, it can breed poisonous and permanent resentment. Family businesses are potentially fertile breeding grounds for such ill will. asked people for family business horror stories that they had witnessed firsthand. While they all refused to name names, they made up for the lack of specifics with plenty of awkwardness and cringing.

By Daniel Bukszpan

The Profit, a reality series with multimillionaire Marcus Lemonis turning around struggling companies, Tuesdays at 10 p.m ET/PT.

Richard Hutchings | Science Source | Getty Images