Get to Know Marcus Lemonis, Host of 'The Renovator'

This isn't the Marcus Lemonis you think you know. HGTV sits down with the network's newest host to learn more about him and his emotional spin on a classic reno show, The Renovator.

Photo by: Bob Croslin

Bob Croslin

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You may know Marcus Lemonis as the star of CNBC’s The Profit. Or perhaps you know him as the founder and CEO of Camping World (a retail company that sells recreational vehicles). Or maybe you recognize him as an uber-smart businessman and philanthropist. He is, afterall, a man of many interests. He even owns a home store in New York City.

Now, Marcus is adding another accomplishment to his list: Come October 11 at 8/7c, we’ll get to watch the business mogul use interior design to mend couples’ homes and relationships as the host of HGTV's new show, The Renovator.

We’ll be the first to say it: Though Marcus has many talents, we wouldn't have pegged him as a professional designer or a therapist — but hear us out. We hopped on the phone with Marcus and learned there’s a side to him not many people know. (For starters, he has 176 pillows in his home.)

Here’s what else he told us.

"I'm a really good designer and no one knows," Marcus laughs.

Photo by: Peter Wynn Thompson

Peter Wynn Thompson

"I'm a really good designer and no one knows," Marcus laughs.

1) He Lived in an Orphanage in Lebanon

Beirut, Lebanon, to be exact — which is also where he was born. At nine months old, Marcus was adopted by a Lebanese-Greek couple who lived in the US.

2) He Grew Up in Miami

So began his childhood in Florida. “It wasn’t the Miami it is today,” says Marcus. “It was very different — very farm-town-like.” When it was time for college he chose to move, “as far away as I could from nice weather and really, really tan people,” he jokes. He landed at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

3) He’s an Only Child

And it’s shaped his entire life. “Because I don’t have a big family, I really look at the outside world and try to have the deepest connections with people I can,” he says. His empathetic nature isn’t just evident in emotional scenes from The Renovator, but in his approach to business as well. “Success or failure in business isn’t tied to financial results,” says Marcus. Instead, he strives to foster an environment in which employees can grow and learn from within — a skill he also uses to help clients in his HGTV show. “At Camping World, for example,” he says, “I’ve seen interns become top-ranking employees. My primary goal is always to change the way people think about themselves.”

4) He Made $20K a Year as a Preteen

“My first business ever was a lawn business,” Marcus says. “I had 14 kids working for me at the age of 12 — some of whom were older. I needed someone to drive from house to house!”

5) He Sees the Exterior Design of a Home and the Interior Design as One

Luckily, his stint in lawn servicing as a kid inspired some pretty cool exteriors we’ll get to see firsthand in The Renovator. He appreciates a dramatic exterior as much as he does a curated interior. “Paying attention to just one is like wearing a really cool outfit with really dirty shoes,” he says.

6) He Describes Himself as Complicated

“Being complicated allows me to understand and help people that are in complicated situations,” says Marcus. “I like to open up about my own life experiences to help people. People are pretty surprised at how much I disclose.” He also describes himself as eclectic (“both in personal style and my life choices”) and unpredictable.

Marcus is still close with his clients from The Renovator.

Marcus is still close with his clients from The Renovator.

7) He Wants to Spread Knowledge About Financial Literacy

“People get in trouble financially because they don't think about one very basic principle,” Marcus says. “In both a home and a business, there's money coming in and money going out. In the end you're either making a profit or you’re not. I want people to understand they're in control of their own destiny. I want to help them become smarter.”

8) And, Marcus Loves Using Twitter to Do it

He’s on Twitter (@marcuslemonis) for one purpose only: to educate people on all sorts of topics. “I use Twitter to be as philanthropic as I can be,” he says. “I have a lot of fun with it.”

9) He Thinks About the Way People Think

Marcus’ foray into Camping World was largely driven by his curiosity about the way people live, travel and think. In the years since founding the company, he’s dealt with a plethora of families and learned a great deal about their dynamics. Of course, his curiosity didn’t stop there. While diving into the world of small businesses for The Profit, he began to ponder how families acted outside of their business life at home — and how a living space might affect that. And so, The Renovator was born.

10) He’s a Self-Taught Designer

To be clear: Marcus is the show’s designer. He even staged all the finished homes with the help of his wife. “I’m a really good designer and no one knows it,” he laughs. To see for yourself, check out The Renovator Tuesdays at 8/7c on HGTV.

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