The pitch for Undercover Boss was our first as Studio Lambert. We had come together a few weeks earlier to form a new television production company in the United States. Six months before that, Stephen had launched the business in the United Kingdom. It was late 2008, just as the recession had hit and television advertising revenues had collapsed, but despite the tough economic times, we were optimistic. Now, after all the dreamy talk around the kitchen table in Eli's Venice Beach apartment, we were finally going out to sell a show. Or at least try to.

The broadcast and cable network buyers in Los Angeles hear dozens of pitches every day. The overwhelming majority are rejected—not to your face, but in the after-pitch feedback to ...

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