Building himself into a massive success from the ground up once wasn't enough for Stearns Lending mogul Glenn Stearns — he had to test if he could do it all over again on Undercover Billionaire. In the new Discovery series, premiering Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET, Stearns is ditching his luxury lifestyle, fortune and name for just $100 and an alias, tasked with building a million-dollar business in just 90 days with the help of a team that's totally in the dark to his real identity.
At the end of 90 days, an independent financial evaluator will assess the value of the new company. If it's even a penny short of $1 million, Stearns staked $1 million of his own money to be put into the business and into the people who helped him build it. Ahead of the series premiere, Stearns talked to PopCulture.com about his motivation behind starting all over again, and the "pain, suffering and agony" of the 90 day slog.
"My wife probably called it more of a mid-life crisis than anything, but I thought this would be cool to kind of test myself and see, could I really do it again?" he explained of agreeing to stake his money on what could potentially be a wild goose chase. "You know, is it something that was luck before, or is it possible that I have what it takes to do it from nothing?"
"When I got in the middle of it, I realized, 'What in the world was I thinking?'" he added. "This is insane and crazy. And yeah there's a lot of pain. And it was definitely something that tested me."
Growing up dyslexic in a home where his parents both struggled with alcohol and drugs while working hard at their blue collar jobs, Stearns certainly didn't have things easy building his business, compounded when he became a father at the age of 14.
"You know if I hadn't gone through all that adversity, I might cower in the corner and kind of wait for everything to explode, but luckily I had a life that was a little different than most, so it worked out for me," he said of taking on business challenges both decades ago and while filming with Discovery, adding, "But after a while in the middle while I was going through all this craziness I thought, 'Gosh, I'd rather be on my boat right now, why am I doing this?' You know, this is insane."
Finding a crew willing to work for a dream without any capital behind them wasn't easy, but Stearns told PopCulture he's always found motivating people is easier when you're dedicated to outworking every single person.
"What I found, being an entrepreneur, being someone that has gone through a lot of struggles in business is that those are the times that make you," he said of working from nothing. "When you think there's no way out, when you know that you have exercised every option you have, that's the time you buckle down and really start working it, finding every person you can to help get you, get involved, and you rally your team. It's not the time to give up. ... So there was no shortage of pain, suffering, agony in this 90 days that's for sure."
Stearns won't dish quite yet on whether he was able to turn out a million-dollar company by the end of the 90 days, but he admitted the whole process shaped him as a businessman even now.
"That first part of surviving is hard, harder than I remember," he confessed. "There's a lot of people out there that live hand to mouth, that live paycheck to paycheck. And it's hard to catch a break. And so I was really, I think, humbled by the fact there's so many people trying every day and so that brought me back to kind of center."
Once things were less dire, Stearns found himself "really amazed by the human spirit."
"You know, I was really amazed at the human spirit, people that really want to, you know they end up wanting to do something and they're afraid, but they go for it," he said. "And so when that happens, just the joy it brings people and the sense of pride that comes. And so I really think people need to take more chances in life, and they need to be able to live their life without regrets and just enjoy what happens and own it. Own who you are."
Undercover Billionaire premieres Tuesday, August 6 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on Discovery.
Photo credit: Benjo Arwas/Contour by Getty Images