‘The Profit’ Producers Triumph in $30M Arbitration Against Bankrupt Contestant

According to new sources, NBCUniversal, its CNBC show “The Profit” and its frontman, entrepreneur Marcus Lemonis, have prevailed in a legal dispute with one of the show’s contestants.

An arbitrator in May dismissed fraud and breach of contract claims that were brought by the bankruptcy trustee of Precise Graphix, a Pennsylvania interior decor manufacturer that appeared on the show and later collapsed, finding that the allegations were “unsupported by competent, credible evidence.” The arbitrator awarded $7.1 million in attorney’s fees and costs to NBCUniversal, recreational vehicle retailer Camping World Inc. (which is part-owned by Lemonis, its chief executive) and production company Machete. The arbitration ruling was revealed Wednesday in documents filed by Camping World in bankruptcy court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

“Given the complete failure of competent, credible evidence supporting her allegations at the hearing, the Trustee cannot establish the required elements of the fourteen causes of action alleged in the Demand,” arbitrator Ann Jones said in her ruling. “Even if one were to find the testimony proffered by the Trustee in support of her claims credible (which the Arbitrator does not), several of the causes of action asserted by the Trustee would still fail as a matter of law.” The trustee is appealing the decision.

“The judge disregarded the facts and the law,” said Gerard Fox, attorney for the trustee. “We have a lot of issues with the process and the arbitration.” 

The trustee had sued the companies involved with “The Profit” in 2022 in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging fraud and breach of contract and accusing the show of causing its demise. The plaintiffs sought at least $30 million in damages. The case was one of several of complaints involving “The Profit,” a popular, eight-season-long documentary-style show about struggling businesses that swap a stake in the company for cash and Lemonis’ guidance.

“I don’t feel vindicated,” Lemonis said in an interview. “And the reason that I don’t is because I knew I didn’t do anything wrong. I never would have thought a television show would turn into this.”

The Pennsylvania design company appeared on an episode of “The Profit” in 2015. The founders were seeking new capital and help to expand their business. Instead, the 222-page lawsuit alleged, the show caused the company’s downfall. The bankruptcy trustee alleged the producers and Lemonis worked to divide the business owners and overburden the company with debt. The company allegedly had to complete projects at a loss, most of which were for entities Lemonis controlled. The company owed $6 million at the time it filed for bankruptcy.

“NBCUniversal and, subsequently Machete, created a mob-style scam that disparaged, denigrated, and falsely portrayed the businesses they promised to help, like Precise Graphix,” Lynn E. Feldman, the Chapter 7 trustee, said in the lawsuit.

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