Marcus Lemonis needs help.
The serial entrepreneur and host of CNBC's "The Profit" has invested nearly $50 million in dozens of small businesses across the country. On the premiere of CNBC's new show "The Partner," airing Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET, he begins the search for a right-hand man or woman who can help manage his ever-growing portfolio.
Presented with 10 candidates, Lemonis spends some time interacting with the group before teeing up their first challenge: a 2½ minute pitch about why each of them wants to become his partner.
The catch? Candidates don't realize it's not just Lemonis they'll be pitching, but a conference room filled to capacity with members of a focus group. While some thrive in this high-pressure scenario, a few choke. Lemonis offers his take on where each excelled and faltered.
Swept off the ground and into a hug by one candidate, Lemonis stresses, "This is still a job interview."
Here are three highlights as well as the lessons you can take away from each.
Buffie Purselle, owner of Buffie the Tax Heiress
The extremely competitive Purselle has already visited a number of Lemonis' businesses and scoped out Chicago real estate that would be useful should she win. He's impressed by her bold personality. During her pitch, Purselle leans on her experiences as a bootstrapping entrepreneur to connect with the group.
"I'm the partner because I've lost $100,000 on a business idea before, and it was my money. I'm self-made, so I value a dollar," she says.
Though Lemonis gravitates toward Purselle's confidence, he's hesitant about the possibility that "she's just coasting on her charm," saying he wants "depth and substance."
The lesson: Don't let your communication style overwhelm your message.
Billy Canu, owner of Brighthaus Digital Marketing
Canu is thrilled at the potential of working with Lemonis, whom he calls his "spirit animal."
During their initial interactions, the two men bond over personal similarities, including having been raised by adoptive parents. Lemonis is impressed by Canu's "vulnerability sharing."
But in his pitch, Canu struggles to connect and communicate about himself. He explains, "I am a guy you can share a meal with. I'm a great person to work with, and the best partner to have," but he does little to show how that might be true.
The lesson: Be prepared to underscore statements about your work with clear examples.
Julianna Reed, program manager for I Am That Girl
Reed left a design job at Levi's to pursue nonprofit work, and she speaks candidly about her experiences as a survivor of domestic violence. Lemonis is immediately struck by her openness.
In her pitch, Reed emphasizes compassion and loyalty, as well as the time she's spent working with entrepreneurs "in the trenches, with just as much heart and dedication as if it were my own business."
Lemonis appreciates the emotional appeal of Reed's pitch, but he also questions whether "that softness will turn into strength when it needs to."
The lesson: Be sure the strengths you emphasize don't suggest weaknesses in other areas.
Video by Brandon Ancil