In a new show premiering August 6 on Discovery, “Undercover Billionaire” Glenn Stearns goes from his yacht to sleeping in an old pickup truck, with the goal of seeing if he can build a million-dollar business from scratch in 90 days.
Stearns wants to prove that the American Dream is possible and that his own financial success wasn’t a fluke.
“I went from rags to riches, but it wasn’t luck,” Stearns says in an exclusive clip of the show provided to Business Insider.
As the show progresses, the audience will see how right — or wrong — Stearns was about that.
For the show, Discovery dropped Stearns off in Erie, Pennsylvania, with $100 in his pocket, a cellphone with no contacts, and an old pickup. Stearns then had 90 days to build a million-dollar business (as determined by an independent financial evaluator at the show’s conclusion). He wasn’t allowed to use any of his previous contacts or capital, and if the business wasn’t worth $1 million at the end, Stearns was required to put $1 million of his own money into it.
Nancy Daniels, Discovery’s chief brand officer, told Business Insider in an interview last year that Stearns had come to Discovery with the “idea of wanting to test himself,” and that the show was fundamentally about “taking your own life into your own hands,” and the extent to which that is possible today in a city like Erie.
For Stearns, it was also about seeing if he could recreate his own origin story and prove he could do it all over, Daniels said.
Stearns, who is based in Orange County, California, came from a working-class family and made his fortune primarily from Stearns Lending, a mortgage-lending company he founded that had over $500 million in revenue in 2014 and 1,700 employees before Blackstone acquired a 70% stake in it in 2015 (the deal terms were not publicly disclosed). Discovery pegged Stearns’ net worth at over $1 billion, though Business Insider was not able to independently verify that figure.
In the clip, it’s clear that Stearns is far from his luxurious current circumstances. It flashes on him eating instant noodles, sleeping in a car, and scrubbing a toilet.
See the clip below: