Coming to you this Sunday is another installment in the reality TV “feel good” series. Secret Millionaire takes you along for the ride as a millionaire searches for someone deserving of a large donation. Each week a new millionaire will embark on an adventure that showcases the needy, and will hope to not only connect with the “other side” of life, but run into someone trying to do great work who could use a benefactor.
In a style similar to Undercover Boss, we get to march along as the tremendously wealthy take a spin in the trenches, and along the way we are subject to the emotional pull of the downtrodden, and the curious joy of charity by proxy.
There is a special appeal in watching the rich come face to face with “real” people, and the circumstances of “real” life, though this appeal is largely lost in the series opener, which introduces us to a millionaire who grew up on welfare and was homeless at 21. Still, when it comes to making a viewing choice, it’s hard to go wrong with the idea that a rich person is going to have to deal with some tough times.
The most cynical among us will roll our eyes at the transparent effort of the wildly wealthy (those behind and on the show) to get a great deal on advertising. The least, of course, will be hopelessly bamboozled by the playing up of ultimately smallish efforts which ought to be made without the benefit of a spot on primetime airwaves. Somewhere in the middle is a show that, if nothing else, gives at least $100,000 to someone who really needs it, and raises awareness to some extent or another.
These shows are tricky beasts, and there are so many variables each week, that it can be difficult to predict the extent to which the idea is going to win out with viewers. Luckily, the opening week features an incredibly likable millionaire visiting personally meaningful circumstances of poverty. If the show has any possibility of winning big in the hearts of audiences, it is this episode, and I suspect it is a scenario that will fend off the most cynical views. The real test of the show will come in the following weeks, when we have millionaires who are perhaps less charismatic, and we find out how that, along with the inevitable displays of “out of touch with reality” go over with John Q. Public.
Of course, you’re starting out on pretty good ground, because these are millionaires who are interested in participating in the show, but the idea, while at least theoretically noble, walks a tightrope when it comes to viewer sensibilities. Maybe that’s just the cynic in me talking now.
I’d love to get behind this show, but I think I’d really need to see who is in the line-up for episodes 4-6 before I could have a true idea where my feelings are really going to fall here. On the other hand, the first episode is easily one of the better things you’ll see on television, and we can always hope. Someone involved in the show probably has such an intention anyway.
“Secret Millionaire” is a one-hour alternative series that follows six of America’s most successful business people as they spend a week in the country’s poorest areas and ultimately gift deserving members of the community with hundreds of thousands of dollars of their own money. In the premiere episode, millionaire and successful entrepreneur Dani Johnson leaves her family and lavish lifestyle behind to spend six days in one of the poorest areas of Knoxville, Tennessee, in search of those most in need of her help. While there, she will survive on welfare level wages, volunteer her time and search her heart to determine how much of her own fortune to gift the community heroes she meets.
Johnson was raised on welfare, pregnant at 17, homeless at 21 and a millionaire at 23 – now she’s a multi-millionaire, entrepreneur and head of five companies, best-selling author and internationally sought-after speaker. She kicked off her early success by licensing a weight loss product, and eventually started and built a thriving company manufacturing her own nutritional and skin care products.
With a strong passion to help people improve their lives, she parlayed her success into a training program for personal and professional development. Johnson maintains dynamic training programs to help her clients decrease their debt, increase their salaries and improve their quality of life. She consults, mentors and coaches people from all walks of life in career paths and advancement, personal achievement, business growth, leadership development, marketing and profit strategies, relationships, time management, wealth attainment and spiritual issues.
She is President and co-founder of danijohnson.com, a personal achievement and corporate training company, and co-founder of King’s Ransom Foundation, a nonprofit charity dedicated to serving people in need, especially families and children, worldwide. Johnson is passionately dedicated to her faith, her husband, Hans, five children and three grandchildren.
Based on the hit UK series of the same name, each episode of “Secret Millionaire” follows one of America’s most successful business people for one week as they leave behind their lavish lifestyles, sprawling mansions and luxury jets, conceal their true identities, and go to live and volunteer in some of the most impoverished and dangerous neighborhoods in the country.
Their mission is to discover deserving individuals who continually sacrifice everything to help those in need, and ultimately encourage others to do the same. Throughout this incredible, life-changing experience, the Secret Millionaires will attempt to remain undiscovered, coming face to face with extraordinary people battling the odds every day of their lives. On the final day, in an emotional and dramatic climax, they reveal their true identities. Ultimately, the millionaires will each give away a great deal of their own money, changing lives forever and encouraging others to keep giving back.