Chicago Cubs Exec Throws a Curve on 'Undercover Boss'

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One of the unspoken themes of CBS's (CBS) Undercover Boss is that, under the surface, there really isn't that much difference between the executives who hang out in the head office and the drones who populate the shop floor. Every week, the people on the top and bottom of a company bond over children and food, parenting and ambition, inevitably discovering that -- once you strip away the seven-figure salaries -- they are pretty much the same. This Sunday, however, promises an interesting confrontation as an American aristocrat meets the workers who keep his family business -- the Chicago Cubs -- afloat.



Todd Ricketts, this week's guest on the show, is one of the four children of J. Joseph Ricketts, founder and former CEO of Ameritrade, which rose to become the top online discount brokerage in the world. In the process, it also made the senior Ricketts a billionaire: In 2009, he was number 371 on Forbes' list of the 400 richest Americans.

Rather than sit on his holdings, J. Joseph bought the Chicago Cubs in 2009, and installed his children in the front office. Today, the Ricketts kids occupy four of the six seats on the Cubs' board of directors, and son Tom Ricketts is the organization's chairman. It isn't really clear what Todd does for the Cubs: Co-owner of a pair of Chicago-area bicycle shops, he told reporters early this year that the Ricketts planned to spend a lot of time at Wrigley Field, but weren't going to seek media attention. Since then, he has largely kept his word, briefly surfacing in September 2010 when he co-sponsored a bicycle race to benefit Chicago Cubs charities, but otherwise staying out of the spotlight.

All that is about to change, as millions of Americans will watch Todd clean toilets, sell hot dogs, maintain the field, man the scoreboard, and park cars. Asked about why he is doing this instead of his more prominent brother Tom, Todd claimed that his brother "can't grow a beard," and was thus unable to disguise himself.

Like many of the show's previous workers, Ricketts posed as a down-on-his-luck manual laborer, "Mark Dawson," an unemployed roofer whose name just happens to be a mashup of two former Cubs players. But, while undercover bosses disguise themselves with glasses or beards, it's harder to hide their attitudes. In every episode, the actual workers on the show appear desperate to hold on to their jobs and scurry to impress their higher-ups. Meanwhile, many of the bosses -- especially season one's William C. Carstanjen -- have shown disdain for the menial tasks that they were asked to perform. In Ricketts' case, this proved especially problematic, as he was fired from the bathroom crew and lied to Rocco, the hot dog guy who was tasked with mentoring him.

Undercover Boss being what it is, the show will inevitably have a happy ending: The workers will discover that "Mark" is actually their incredibly wealthy boss and Ricketts will use his new-found knowledge of the Cubs' employees as an opportunity to play Santa Claus. Hard workers will be advanced or receive gifts, while less-inspired employees will learn that the boss man has his eye on them. More to the point, however, the audience will have their eye on Todd Ricketts in hopes of seeing a hint of awareness at the incredible genetic lottery that he won and the lifestyles of those who are less lucky.

Undercover Boss will air on Sunday at 9 p.m. on CBS.






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Nick

I WOULD HAVE TO SAY THAT THE CUBS ARE MY FAVORITE TEAM, BUT YET THEY DIDNT DO HARDLY ANYTHING FOR THEIR EMPLOYEES.kINDA SAD THIS GUY IS SO RICH AND GIVES ONLY SWIMMING LESSONS AND PAY FOR SECOND LANGUAGE SCHOOLS GIVE ME A BREAK WORST BIG BOSS I EVER SEEN. NO WONDER THEY SUCK EVERY YEAR CANT EVEN PAY THE TEAM LET ALONE THE EMPLOYEES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

June 08 2012 at 3:06 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mike

OH WOW, CBS has brought BOXER DAY (British Tradition) to the colonies, what a NOVEL IDEA.

November 07 2010 at 4:29 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Al

one of the most boring programs that CBS has this year. Slightly less interesting then watching paint dry.

November 07 2010 at 2:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
leftie

I think its interesting that he used Gracie's first name and Andre's last name. Although I will be watching the show tonite, I'm no longer a dyed in the wool Cubbie fan. No longer do I dropped everything and watch them on WGN. My husband and kids used to tease me unmercifully about them. I lived through their 14 game losing streak at the beginning of the season. I cried when Harry died. I bought Stonies book that he wrote about him, and cried and laughed my way through it. Then a funny thing happened. They screwed over Gracie by not even having the decency to call him and telling him they no longer wanted him. Sammy was gone, Arty died, and they fired Stonie over a comment he made about the outfield. While I will always hope they win a World Series and wish them well, I can't overlook the things they did.

November 07 2010 at 12:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
threedawgknights

I watch the show, and yes, it is entertaining. That being said, Its also a big roll of BS. The CEO knows hes going back to a lush job. He's not staying out where people bust there azz for little of nothing. If he were a true caring and understanding boss, as always portrayed, he wouldn't give prizes to only the ones he associated with, and a hooray speech to the rest of the company workers. He'd commit himself and other overpaid CEO's to making a better living for all the employees. Something that will better all, like maybe a raise, not praise. Words are a penny a gross, and CEO's, like politicians, are the best there is at spreading them around like manure. What the CEO finds out in a week is miniscule to what a lowly employee makes and lives. He needs to take off the Rose colored glasses

November 07 2010 at 6:50 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
phil

ive been a life long cubs fan for the last 47 yrs before the 2011 season start iam going to say in now because like always the saying goes wait in til next yr.

November 06 2010 at 8:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
strannge2

go cubbies

November 06 2010 at 5:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jill

In all seriousness, how can you tell a complete stranger slong with a tv crew your lifes problems? Really????? I don't beleive some of the stories that are told

November 06 2010 at 3:41 PM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply
mbattistone

At last another member of the lucky sperm club!

November 06 2010 at 9:24 AM Report abuse +3 rate up rate down Reply