The reality of business

June 14, 2018

Helping hand: Australian entrepreneur Mark Bouris talks to the team at Cobram Motorcycles and Mowers during filming of his new show The Mentor.

Ron Wilson, Savanna Campbell, Vikki Wilson, Hazel Campbell, Shelley Campbell, Charlie Campbell and Bradon Campbell at the shop.

Cobram Motorcycles and Mowers owner Ron Wilson had a big decision to make in February.

Millionaire businessman Mark Bouris gave Mr Wilson an ultimatum — relinquish some control in the shop to family members and he would invest in the business, or decline the offer and run the risk of having to walk away from it all.

The only catch? This was no ordinary business deal but one that would be played out in the lounge rooms of hundreds of thousands of people on Mr Bouris’ new show The Mentor.

The most incredible aspect of the episode which aired last month was the fact Mr Wilson had no idea the plight of his business would be displayed on reality television.

Mr Wilson’s daughter Shelley Campbell did not even tell her husband Bradon let alone her father that she was going to apply for the show.

For Mrs Campbell, the theory behind going on the show was born out of desperation. She could see her father drifting from them and from his own goals when it came to the shop.

‘‘I was watching TV one night and the ad popped up and I thought, ‘what have I got to lose?’ so I did a quick video, thought nothing of it and got an email two days later saying that the producers wanted to meet us,’’ Mrs Campbell said.

The family was interviewed, but there was no indication of whether it would be selected.

The screening process was rigorous and involved the family members undertaking a psychological evaluation with a psychologist over the phone to make sure they were mentally fit to go on the show.

The whole process of applying started back in November, with the filming taking place in February.

While the chemistry between Mr Bouris and the family appeared natural, the family was concerned he would be ruthless with them.

‘‘We were really nervous because in the first two episodes of the show he was quite harsh on the businesses, so we were quite worried about what people were going to say about us, but it was really good the way everything was portrayed,’’ Mrs Campbell said.

Mr Bouris did not meet the family before filming began, meaning he had no pre-conceived opinions, which helped the relationships develop organically.

‘‘I noticed on his Twitter account he had commented that we were a lovely family, didn’t complain, were hard working and that he is backing us in to succeed,’’ Mrs Campbell said.

‘‘I’ve noticed he hasn’t done that with any of the other businesses on the show, so we must have struck a chord with him.’’

Mrs Campbell’s mother Vikki sends Mr Bouris a message every now and then to keep him informed of how the shop is going.

Not only did the show help reshape the business, it also played a crucial part in uniting the family.

Before Mr Bouris intervened, Mr Wilson was reluctant to hand over responsibilities to his daughter and son-in-law, which was driving a wedge between them and creating a huge amount of tension.

‘‘We are definitely a lot closer as a result and Dad has taken a back seat on a lot of things and has loosened up a lot and is happier all-round, I think,’’ Mrs Campbell said.

People have been wandering in off the street to check out the new-look store, while countless others have sent well wishes on Facebook.

‘‘I think Dad was open to it because we were all open to it,’’ Mrs Campbell said.

‘‘When the show aired we had so much positive feedback that Bradon said he lost track of the phone calls and people saying congratulations.’’

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