A new TV show will send a self-made billionaire 'undercover' to see if he can build a million-dollar company from nothing in 90 days

MarvelThe billionaire isn’t Tony Stark, but his identity is still a secret.
  • Discovery is about to begin production on a new show called “Undercover Billionaire.”
  • In the show, an unnamed self-made billionaire will try to create a million-dollar company from scratch in 90 days.
  • They will not be allowed to access his previous contacts or wealth, and will be sent to an unfamiliar city.
  • Succeed or fail, the show will be a commentary on the American dream.

If you dropped a self-made billionaire off in a random city, with just a few dollars and the drive to build something, could they make a million-dollar business in a few months?

That’s the question Discovery is trying to answer with its new show, “Undercover Billionaire,” which is about to begin production on a 90-day shoot.

“The billionaire came to us with the idea of wanting to test himself,” Discovery’s chief brand officer, Nancy Daniels, told Business Insider in an interview. He was someone “who had come from nothing” before making it big, and was “100% confident” he could do it again, she said.

Here’s the test they devised: He’ll be given three months to build a million-dollar company from scratch in an unfamiliar midsize city, without the benefit of his past contacts, and something like $US200 dollars in his pocket (the exact amount is still being worked out).

Daniels wouldn’t reveal the billionaire’s name or industry – because of concerns about spoiling the shoot – but said he wouldn’t be recognisable to most people.

In the show, the audience will know who he is from the start, but the people he’s working with won’t know until the end, when he will gift them whatever business he ends up creating (they will have a cover story to explain the cameras).

“We truly are following him do this,” Daniels said.

He could succeed or he could fail spectacularly. But whatever happens, good or bad, will be a commentary on American capitalism and the idea of the self-made man. How much of his initial success was luck, and how much was his innate drive and ability? Can entrepreneurial lightning strike twice for someone without huge financial backing?

The show is fundamentally about “taking your own life into your own hands,” Daniels added. And the results will say a lot about the extent to which that is possible.

The billionaire has explained to the producers a few business avenues or industries he thinks he could explore in the show, and none are in his previous wheelhouse, Daniels said. He’s really trying to get back to his own origin story: no contacts, no expertise, no money.

“Before I met him, I was suspicious [of his chances],” Daniels said. But after meeting him, she thinks he just might be able to pull it off. He’ll have 90 days to prove her right.

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