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‘Undercover Boss’ Recap: Franchise Owner Disses CFO — ‘She’s Sucking the Life Out of Me’

Another day, another boss in disguise! Undercover Boss‘ Wednesday, January 4, episode focused on the CFO of Painting With a Twist. Speaking of twists, this episode of CBS’ deception-based workplace reality show certainly caught Us by surprise, and even had Us reaching for the tissue box … and another glass of pinot! Watch a scene from the show above, and read on for our full recap!

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Renee Became “Savannah” … With Bad Teeth

The episode kicked off as we met Renee Maloney, cofounder and CFO of Painting With a Twist, a company specializing in fun, wine-filled group painting lessons. With over 300 franchise locations and more than $40 million in annual revenue, Renee was ready to check in on her rapidly growing business as her granola, single mom alter ego, “Savannah.” Renee’s husband wasn’t such a big fan of her new look — which included “smoker teeth” plus bleached hair and eyebrows — saying she’d have to “sleep with the dogs” if she continued looking that way.

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Undercover in San Antonio

Renee’s first stop on her Painting With a Twist National Tour began in San Antonio, where she was tasked with helping teach a painting class with young up-and-comer Maci. Instantly flustered, Renee admitted, “I failed art.” She tried to lighten the mood in the class with a “blonde” joke that was greeted with an uncomfortable silence. During a one-on-one, Maci and Renee began to bond over their shared family sorrows. Maci revealed through tears that her father left their family and “started his new life … on Christmas Day.” Renee, whose own father left her mother for their babysitter, connected with Maci and shared a raw moment.

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Going Incognito in Rockwall

Renee then headed over to Rockwall, Texas, where she met Bree, a manager-in-training. Bree, who prided herself on having created several successful paintings for the company, griped to “Savannah” about the pitfalls of the business. Bree admitted, “The downfall to creating art is that it’s not something we are compensated for. … That’s the one thing I would change.” Renee seemed to take this to heart, saying to the camera, “That’s something I really need to look at.” 

Renee was then tasked with creating her own original painting. Behind Renee’s back, Bree slammed the piece, calling it “a little bit like a doodle that you do as a kid.” Uh-oh, she dissed the boss! Bree then connected with “Savannah” when Bree revealed that prior to this job, “I had no money to feed my kids. … I took a job at a restaurant just so I could bring home scraps.”

Renee Became a Factory Inspector

Renee then stopped by Louisiana to check out a giant warehouse full of boxes. She was tasked with joining shift manager Calvin in a thorough inspection of boxes and boxes full of canvases. When an exhausted Renee (dressed as Savannah) asked, “When’s lunch?” an annoyed Calvin responded, “Lunch is when you finish.” When Calvin revealed to Renee that he was starting his own vending machine company to provide for his 7-year-old daughter, Renee was touched. On the spot, she offered him $5,000 toward his business and $10,000 toward his daughter’s education.

Renee Maloney, cofounder and CFO of Painting With a Twist
Renee Maloney, cofounder and CFO of Painting With a Twist

Renee “Sucked the Life” Out of a Franchise Owner

Renee was nervous to see Steve, a franchise owner she’d actually met before. But luckily for her, he clearly didn’t recognize her with the new ‘do. Steve instantly criticized the way “Savannah” worked the front desk, saying, “Savannah was greeting customers. … She was very quiet.” He continued to complain about her soft-spoken demeanor, saying, “She’s sucking the life out of me.” Ouch.

He then complained to the CFO of his company about having to pay out of pocket for his own social media classes. When Renee noticed that Steve custom-stamped the back of each of his canvases, she cringed. Annoyed with the lack of uniformity that she expected from her business, Renee said to the camera, “The stamping in the back of the canvas kind of got me in the gut. … They’re not just his customers — they’re everybody’s customers.”

Renee Gave Maci Scholarship Money

After Renee revealed her identity to Maci, Steve and Bree, they were all clearly in shock. She then offered each of them, individually, some seriously heartwarming prizes for their hard work, hardships and dedication. Renee said to Maci, “My dad left. … It makes me sad that you’re so burdened. … I wanna give you $25,000 to pay off your school debt.” On top of that, she threw in $10,000 for rent, and another $25,000 to finish school. They both cried. We cried. Tears were all over the place.

Renee Put Some “Life” Back Into Steve … in the Form of Cash

Renee committed to making things right with franchise owner Steve. She revealed, “You are totally committed to an awesome customer experience. … I’m gonna give you $10,000 to cover the expense that it took for you to learn on your own.” She then offered him and his family “an all-expenses-paid Disney cruise.” Steve cried, she cried, we cried — you know how it goes.

Renee Gave Bree Her Own Franchise

The biggest shocker came when upbeat and charitable Bree received the greatest gift of all: her own franchise of Painting With a Twist — a $100,000 value. Renee also revealed that compensating employees for original artwork was moving to the “top of the priority list.” Bree, whose life goal is to receive a Nobel Peace Prize, started sobbing when Renee told her, “Every time your rainbow zebra is painted, I want to collect those royalty dollars and put it towards your nonprofit.” Oh, yeah — and she also gave her $20,000 just to “put in the bank.” Um, can we work for Painting With a Twist, too?

Tell Us: Did you think Steve was too harsh about his boss, Renee?

Undercover Boss airs on CBS Wednesdays at 8 p.m. ET.