tv The Profit CNBC April 19, 2019 1:00pm-2:30pm EDT
ime to run a business. cory: wahoo! lemonis: okay? lisa: thank you. thanks. ♪ we got an office ♪ we got an office, we got an office ♪ cory: oh. mom, look. headphones. ♪ ♪ lemonis: everybody's very nervous. i think some are nervous about what i'm gonna find. and i think most are nervous about how i'm gonna react. i was born there. i lived in an orphanage. i don't know how i got there or where i came from. but i always had this dying curiosity. what part of that culture or heritage, if any, influenced the way i think. and i'm dying to know. i'm marcus lemonis. 44 years ago, my parents adopted me from a beirut orphanage. they took me out of lebanon and brought me to the u.s. since then, i haven't been back.
flight's on time. man: yes. lemonis: thank you. now, i've made a huge decision. i'm returning to the country for the very first time. this is my journey to the place where i was born, lebanon -- a nation of survivors and success stories. al bayeh: my only job, all my life, this one. lemonis: is cooking. al bayeh: yes. lemonis: i'm gonna learn from its people the best way i know how -- by finding out how business is done here. naji: there's always a fight. it makes the success even greater. lemonis: i want to get to know the country and its culture. only then will i be ready to learn about myself and the secrets of my own past. this is my name? moustapha: yes. [ upbeat middle eastern music ] ♪ ♪
lemonis: i've always considered myself lebanese. but i got to be honest with you, i don't know a whole about the country of lebanon or my roots. here's what i do know: i was born in 1973 and was left in a beirut orphanage. when i was nine months old, i was adopted be leo and sophia lemonis of miami, florida. my dad, leo, is greek. my mom, sophia, was lebanese. i can remember early mornings where my mother would come into my room -- it would be a bedtime story like most of us are familiar with. and it would always be a book about adoption. she wanted me to understand the gift that i was given to be in america. like a lot of immigrants, i found my american dream. after college, i got into the family car business and eventually became the ceo of a multi-billion-dollar company.
plus, i make a little tv on the side. people always ask me, "have you ever met your birth parents?" my initial reaction in every case was, "i love my life. i love my parents. i don't need to know anything. i don't want them feeling disrespected." this is a man and a woman who travelled halfway around the world to pick up some random kid in middle of a foreign country. but in everyone's life, there comes a time when you need to understand who you are and where you come from. and i'm gonna start by travelling the country. yeah, that looks beautiful. wow. these waterfront -- this is a nice area, huh? and i see palm tress, and i feel like i'm on santa monica boulevard. lying along the eastern mediterranean, lebanon sits at the crossroads of west and middle east.
but it's a tense region with israel and syria lining its borders. the country is home to more than 6,000,000 people. at its heart, the capital, beirut. my mom, when she was alive, asked me never to come here. and i don't think it was because she didn't want me to learn. i think she always feared for my safety. before i was born, lebanon was thriving. beirut was known as the paris of the middle east, cosmopolitan and wealthy. the county has long been a melting pot of religions, christian, sunni, and shia -- 18 sects in all. but that mix became explosive the year after i was adopted. reporter: we have just about run out of words to describe the madness that is beirut. lemonis: lebanon's civil war started in april 1975.
religious militias fought on the streets and mountain sides of the country. american peace keepers became a target. man: get down! [ siren blares ] lemonis: in october of 1983, 241 u.s. servicemen were killed when a truck bomb exploded at the marine barracks. man: so, i stopped and just stared at the horror that was in front of my eyes. lemonis: the strife didn't end until 1990 after a peace agreement took effect. on beirut's damascus road, there's a bullet-riddled memorial to the war known as the barakat building. architect mona el hallak is fighting to preserve it. el hallak: this corner was called in 1976, "the door to hell." damascus road became the green line. the green line is what really divided beirut east and west. lemonis: the barakat building sat on the dividing line
between a mainly muslim west beirut and a mainly christian east. upstairs, snipers were positioned behind sandbags targeting the street below. el hallak: and then you're here. and you're looking. and this is where you would have killed someone. you would have been the sniper. and you would have killed anyone who crosses in front of you. and today, this street -- lemonis: and there job was just to stand here... hallak: and kill. lemonis: ...and you see somebody, old lady, little child, doesn't matter. el hallak: when the order comes -- the order on the walkie-talkie comes, shoot. lemonis: shoot. through a quirk in the building's design, the snipers couldn't be seen by anyone outside even when they were shooting. el hallak: this is two meters deep. this is a concrete wall again. this is one hall. lemonis: so, they bust through the concrete. el hallak: they built the concrete. this was a door. this was a door. lemonis: so they built that as a shield. el hallak: exactly. to protect them. you could shoot all the way down to the end of damascus road. lemonis: and the people down there, they have no idea where it's coming from. el hallak: of course. and they try to shoot back.
but they shoot back at the other balcony. lemonis: on the balcony, it's hard for me to spot those peep holes. but there's no doubt, i'm in their line of site. el hallak: and that's exactly where the bullets came out -- through here, through here, and out. yeah. so, anybody who was there was being killed. lemonis: so as a kid, you would -- el hallak: not allowed to be here. this was the green line. this was no-man's land. you don't cross. lemonis: the green line was literally that -- overgrown trees and bushes that had pushed their way through the ground where people feared to walk. for mona, it's a vivid memory. she was six years old when the civil war started, i was almost two and safe in miami. el hallak: whomever has been through war doesn't wake up in the same way that someone who hasn't been through war because you know you kind of earned your life.
during the worst times, the bombing, you run to the toilet -- to the indoor toilet of any house. and there are times where i spent nights in a toilet like this with 30 people like sardines. and you want to feel crushed by other people. so you don't mind suffocating because really my memory is i wanted human bodies next to me because i don't want to die alone. lemonis: when i hear stories like this, it almost feels disingenuous for me to say that i'm lebanese because i didn't go through what you went through. el hallak: there are people who left during the war forever -- never came back. the war changed their lives. they were sent away because their parents were afraid they would be hurt. and they send them away. the war did this to them. lemonis: mona hopes that people like me, the ones who had to go away, will return to places like this to get a better understanding of what happened here. why was saving the building so important to you specifically?
el hallak: because this is a place of memory. and we have to keep it because there's no other place. they have destroyed everything else. so for me, it was almost the last chance to have a building that talks about the war. lemonis: maybe the pinnacle of this project for you will never be on one particular day. but if there was one day, it would be where everybody was here and they were saying, "i forgive you." el hallak: i look forward to that day. and i genuinely believe that this would be a place not only for the lebanese because i believe that a little girl in syria has hidden the same way i have hidden when i was a little girl. i think war is the same. you go through the same feelings. the amnesia that we've been living for the past 28 years -- this is the place to shake it. this is the place to question it. lemonis: the answers to the questions that brought me to lebanon about my heritage and my birth parents are literally right around the corner. it turns out, my orphanage is just a few blocks away.
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this is ahm, a huge night club on the waterfront. it feels like this could be south beach in miami. how many people you think are here right now? man: i'll go for 900. lemonis: a place where people lose themselves in the music. night or day, beirut is buzzing. and in order to learn more about this city, i'm gonna dig into its businesses, which is why i'm here to meet amin younes, the 49-year-old co-owner of café younes. his family has been in business for decades. how started it? amin: my grandfather. he opened the store in 1935. lemonis: that shop was destroyed during the civil war, not long after i left the country. but amin's father managed to keep this, their second, location open. you guys are roasting all the time and downstairs, too? amin: yeah. lemonis: amin proudly displays beans from around the world, 20 countries in all. amin: coffee is like wine.
this is the treasure. i still have goose bumps. have a taste. [ coffee beans crunch ] lemonis: this place is a museum of roasters. amin: one of the best pictures ever -- when the coffee comes down. lemonis: oh, wow. look at that. amin: this is something i can truly live for. do you want to try? lemonis: yeah, let's see this. it takes about ten minutes for the beans to roast. and i got to try it the lebanese way. operations manager pascale shows me how it's done. pascale: okay. so, basically, these are the beans that you roasted. lemonis: okay, i put it in here? pascale: yes. this is good. lemonis: okay. pascale: this is the hot water. okay. lemonis: you can stir it? pascale: yeah, you can stir it. and you can stir it in here. lemonis: what is that? it's sand? amin: heated sand. lemonis: so put it down. pascale: yes. okay, you can stop stirring now. lemonis: okay. pascale: okay, give me, uh, this. lemonis: now i know why you're in charge. how do you know when it's done? pascale: the coffee will go up. amin: it starts to boil a little bit. and because the boiling... lemonis: ah, there it goes. pascale: that's it. amin: this is the true lebanese coffee.
this is the strong brew. lemonis: i'm gonna be running around the city. amin: yes, you will. [ laughter ] it's still hot, so you have to drink it very carefully. so, cheers. oh, wow. now, you're good. pascale: you don't like it? lemonis: no, i love it, but it's strong. you wouldn't know it today but not that long ago, the business was in trouble. saddled with debt, amin's father struggled to keep the shop open. amin: he went through really a very hard time -- financially, economically, safety reasons, you know, the war in lebanon. i just went to my father and told him, "i want to -- really i want to help you and take over." he just cried. he literally cried. lemonis: it took him six years to pay off the debts. and today, there are 12 locations across lebanon. café younes is much more than just a business to amin. it's his family -- past and present.
because it represents what for you? amin: to represent all my life this heritage that i have on my shoulders -- i had on my shoulders for 20 years now, more. lemonis: is it a connection to your dad is what you feel? amin: yes, always. lemonis: it's not even the money, is it? amin: he's there. he's there. he passed away, but he's there. lemonis: now amin hopes a fourth generation will take over... give me five. too slow. ...his twin boys. amin's success is just one example of how the people of lebanon are fighting to preserve and protect their heritage. for two brothers, the weapon of choice is a paint brush and the beat of the street. this clip is from a 2014 lebanese music video. it's a commentary on lebanese politics and pop culture. kabbani: [ rapping in arabic ] lemonis: the track called "always positive" was written and performed by omar kabbani and his identical twin brother,
mohammed who started rapping and making graffiti 18 years ago. since then, they built an entire brand around their music and designs, turning the duo from street artists to entrepreneurs. i caught up with omar at one of their most prominent works at one of beirut's busiest intersections. so what is all this? omar: that's arabic calligraphy. lemonis: caligraffiti for short. what does this say? omar: it means, "what about tomorrow?" lemonis: so what's the answer? omar: for me, you need to live everyday to the fullest. lemonis: omar's outlook on life stems from his early years. while i was in high school in florida, he and his brother were hiding in bomb shelters while west beirut was being shelled. omar: we lived a big part of our childhood in shelter. and the big part of our influence in street art was the lebanese war. we used to go to my school, liking walking me and my twin brother, and we used to see logos of fighting militias. they used to stencil their logo and --
lemonis: like a gang. omar: exactly. fast forward 30 years later, people consider us rock stars in a way because we are hiding all trace of war. if you see this mural, it's plenty of bullet holes and, like, trace from the war. i'll show you. lemonis: this is bullet holes? omar: exactly. all of this. lemonis: painting over the wounds of war is at the root of the brothers' design company. it's called ashekman. a play on the french word for tailpipe. just as a tailpipe removes dirt from a car's engine, ashekman tries to remove the dirt from a war torn society. you ever held a gun? omar: not really. lemonis: you didn't have to fight or nothing? omar: no, i think my spray can is a weapon of mass expression, not mass destruction. so for me, a spray can is much stronger than any gun. lemonis: over the years, the duo have expanded their appeal to lebanon's younger generation by adding their own clothing line. and the potential for reaching lebanese worldwide is enormous.
argentina has as many as 3/4 of a million people of lebanese ancestry. brazil, almost a million. and 1.3 million in the u.s. including me. through their music, their art, and their clothing, omar and mohammed hope to make ashekman a world-recognized brand. and paint the middle east in a positive light. omar: whenever you hear on the western news about the middle east, all you hear is like extremism, islamism, terrorism, everything negative. and for us, we want to convey the message that in this area there there's plenty of people who wants to live, who wants to make a positive impact in their community. and this is what we're doing. lemonis: i'm heading out of the city and into the countryside to meet someone who's gonna help me relive a childhood memory.
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♪ ♪ lemonis: there's an arabic proverb that says, "the food equals the affection." that making food for someone is a measure of your regard for them. if that's true then this woman georgina al bayeh must have a lot of friends. [ sizzles ] i've come to kfardlakos, a small village in northern lebanon. to find out how her passion for cooking at home has turned into a business cooking for others. it smells beautiful in here. al bayeh: thank you. lemonis: what are you making? al bayeh: tradition lebanese food. today, i will make kibbeh bil sanieh. it's very traditional. lemonis: kibbeh is the epitome of lebanese comfort food and a dish i remember making with my mother when i was a boy. can i work for you today? al bayeh: of course. lemonis: okay.
we start by peeling onions, a lot of onions. do you cook everyday? al bayeh: yes. lemonis: this is your business. al bayeh: this is my business. i cook 14 hours per day. lemonis: 14 hours per day? al bayeh: yes. lemonis: what are you cooking? but the question isn't what georgina is cooking -- it's for how many. ten years ago, the mother of three cooked only for her family. today, she cooks for as many as 60 or more. she's a visiting chef at tawlet, a unique restaurant in beirut where cooks like her, from all over lebanon, showcase their family recipes and get paid for it. lemonis: you want to move to chicago? we'll open up a restaurant. al bayeh: no, no, no. lemonis: you sure? you don't want to move? al bayeh: no. lemonis: okay. after we peel a few more onions... i'm about to cry. al bayeh: this is the last one. lemonis: whoo! al bayeh: the last one. lemonis: ...it's time to slice them, fry them,
and prepare to brown some pine nuts. something i used to do for my mom. do you make the oil hot first? or you put the pine nuts first. hot oil first. al bayeh: yes. lemonis: okay. [ lighter clicks ] what do you love about cooking? al bayeh: i like when the people tell me it's very good, very tasty. lemonis: and that makes you feel good. al bayeh: yes. lemonis: who taught you how to cook? al bayeh: my mother, you know, my mother and my friends. when i start to cook, i ask all people how make this, how make this, how make this. lemonis: and you learned? al bayeh: yes. lemonis: well, gina, do we need a spoon? al bayeh: yes, yes. lemonis: the spoon. now that's something that triggers a few memories. you see this? this has -- al mayeh: yes. all the time i -- for my babies. lemonis: yeah, my mother used to hit me with that.
we broke a few spoons on my tush. twice a week, you'll find georgina selling some of her home-cooked treats at souk el tayeb, a farmers market in beirut that promotes local food producers from across lebanon. most other days she's either catering for tawlet, her own clients, or at pop-up restaurants all over the world. lemonis: it's like a whole new world. al bayeh: this is new life, a new world to do everything for me but all family. lemonis: georgina and i pour the fried onions into the tray and cover them with pine nuts. that's when her 84-year-old mother-in-law drops by. how are you? very nice to meet you. now i got two mothers judging me as i try to mix beef with bulgur, or partially cooked wheat. that will become the filling. georgina is this right?
al bayeh: my mother-in-law want to kill you if you mix like this the kibbeh. lemonis: tough crowd. we have a strict rule to make the kibbeh. okay, i don't want you mother-in-law to get mad. al bayeh: i mix it like this. lemonis: not with your fingers, but with your hands. al bayeh: yes. lemonis: after we add the beef and bulgur to the tray, flatten it, lightly carve the top, and drizzle olive oil all over it, it's time to put the kibbeh in the oven. that's it. we're ready? al bayeh: yes. okay. lemonis: and with that, i had helped make more than a meal. i had made a connection with georgina that was different than i expected. definitely different than anyone else i met here because i was in the kitchen. and it reminded me a lot of my childhood where my mother was very adamant about sharing our heritage together. i literally would go through that exact same process of cutting onions and complaining about it
and browning the snober pine nuts and mixing it all together. and so, for me, it was probably one of the most memorable things because it definitely tied back to my own childhood for sure. memories of cooking with my mom reminded me of why i'm here... al bayeh: bye. lemonis: i'll see you tomorrow, okay? al bayeh: bye. lemonis: ...to find out about my roots and to learn about my birth mother. the child had been abandoned. who is she? and why did she give me up?
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♪ lemonis: i had so much fun cooking with georgina. i'm meeting her again for lunch at the restaurant, tawlet. -how are you? -she's today's guest chef. al bayeh: i'm fine. lemonis: okay, i'm gonna get a plate. i'm gonna eat. put it where every you want. and then i'm gonna get some onions, a radish, a mint. i'm game to try everything except the stuffed intestines.
no, i've never had it. woman: oh, you've never had it. lemonis: and it won't happen today either. [ laughter ] woman: you're making a big mistake. lemonis: you know what, i've made a lot of them. [ laughter ] i'll just put this on the list. woman: i tried. i'm gonna sit over here. but once the owner, kamahl comes out, well, i've got no choice. kamahl: bring one in a bowl. lemonis: oh, my god. please don't make me. that's a big piece. kamahl: no. lemonis: okay. it was not bad. it tastes like a grape leaf on the inside and something very strange on the outside. [ laughter ] ♪ turns out i'm trying a lot of new things here in beirut. it's a vibrant city.
one that's constantly reinventing itself -- rebounding, defying expectations. ♪ and i'm about to meet someone who's made that her business. how are you? cynthia: hello. lemonis: i'm marcus. cynthia: hi, i'm cynthia. lemonis: you have a cool look. cynthia: thank you. i designed it. lemonis: you made these clothes? cynthia: yeah. lemonis: all of these? cynthia: yeah. lemonis: wow. this is cynthia chamat debbané, a fashion designer who runs her own store, boutique hub. woman: oh, wow. cynthia: this is gorgeous. lemonis: cynthia set up shop in 2014 as a place to sell her fashion line, urban sense. i was told that i hadto meet her. but she wasn't so sure she wanted to meet me. cynthia: usually the media always wants to portray this area of the world as, you know, as weird place where oh, something good is happening. oh, wow, how exotic. so i didn't want to be portrayed as that, you know.
i am very lucky to have been able to do this business in this country. lemonis: and i'm lucky she decided to let me in. this is gonna be fun. i'm gonna spend all day here. cynthia: yeah, yeah, yeah. lemonis: clothes, shoes, bags, jewelry -- a cool curated collection of 40 different designers, all lebanese. what is it like to be a woman business owner in lebanon today? cynthia: it's not a problem. it's just that i get stereotyped as a very tough woman, more manly. maybe it has to do with the shaved head. i was always intimidating to men. lemonis: i don't find you to be intimidating. cynthia: i'm not. i don't even want to be intimidating. lemonis: but i find you to be extremely confident. cynthia: am i? lemonis: that's a good thing. cynthia: am i? i hope so. lemonis: yes. cynthia: cool. yes. lemonis: she's obviously got style. and she backs it up with substance. cynthia and her husband built this store with their own hands.
self made. cynthia: self made from the very first day. lemonis: her business model is definitely different. it has to be. as an entrepreneur in lebanon, she's problem solving all the time. so, is this your brand? cynthia: yes, urban sense. lemonis: for her own line, she custom fits each piece on the buyer to minimize waste. cynthia: this would fit a size -- french -- 36, 38, and 40. lemonis: it could. cynthia: it could. but then i do the final touches on the client. lemonis: i can see how smart, strong women like cynthia are the future of this country. and she's bringing all these brands with her. you're like an incubator. cynthia: yes, i am an incubator. for example, this girl does marbling on leather. she initially came to me to make notebook covers. i said, "no. it will not sell." make it a clutch. you can sell it more expensive. and it has more demand." lemonis: nobody wants a notebook cover. cynthia: no. this brand i'm super proud of.
lemonis: beautiful. cynthia: okay. this bag is made from? lemonis: i'll tell you. it's some sort of recycled plastic. cynthia: it is plastic bags. just as simple as that. lemonis: yeah. turns out nothing about these bags is simple. they're handmade by syrian refugees, a small group of entirely female entrepreneurs. how did you meet them? cynthia: i'm always on the look out for designers. my idea eventually -- my goal, like in the near future... lemonis: next week. cynthia: ...maybe the next year or the year after is to be able to represent all of these brands and create export markets for them. lemonis: actually, she reminds me of someone else i know. for me, you're doing basically what i do. we do the same thing. cynthia: except that you invest your own money. i don't have the money to invest. lemonis: but it's not about the money. if you were doing it just for money, you wouldn't do some of this stuff. cynthia: of course not. lemonis: same thing for me. and when you try to teach them and you want to help them for their benefit not for yours. cynthia: yeah. lemonis: and it's okay if along the way,
you make a little money, too. cynthia: yeah. lemonis: i'm gonna start calling you the profit... cynthia: okay. lemonis: ...in lebanon. cynthia: [ laughing ] okay. lemonis: and i've got one last question. so, can you give me the location of these ladies? cynthia: yes, i will. lemonis: i want to go see them. ♪ my journey to find them brought me somewhere i never thought i'd be. ♪ you inspired us to create internet that puts you in charge. that handles anything. that protects what's important. and reaches everywhere. this is beyond wifi. this is xfi. simple, easy, awesome. ♪ here i go again on my own ♪ goin' down the only road i've ever known ♪
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♪ lemonis: of all the pieces inside of cynthia's boutique, none had a story quite like the jellyfish bags. they're made by syrian refugees. cynthia: so these women -- lemonis: they live where? cynthia: in the bekaa valley. lemonis: and now, i'm going to find them. leaving beirut, things get rural fast -- tiny villages, open farmland.
two hours and a herd of sheep later, i'm here -- the bekaa valley. what's that way? syria? boy: [ speaking arabic ] lemonis: syria? that way. syria is literally on the other side of the mountain. a country now torn apart by it's own civil war. since it started in 2011, some 1.5 million syrian refugees have streamed over the border into lebanon increasing the population to 6,000,000 people. that's the equivalent of more than 100,000,000 million refugees coming into the united states. many live in crowded makeshift camps like this one. i've seen it on tv, but i think to actually be in it is very different than hearing about it. on the other side on that mountain is their home.
can you imagine everyday waking up and seeing the hill knowing that on the other side is family and friends and you home and all these things. and you can't go back. or you could. but you're gonna die. i think what will be stamped on my brain and my memory forever are the kids running around. what happens to them? what's their future look like? on the outskirts of the camp, the women i came all the way here to meet. 23-year-old aalaa alzhouri and her cousins fled syria seven years ago. how did you get here? female interpreter: we were living in a safe country, but the events started happening in syria. and we were really worried about our young kids. every time a mortar would explode near you or outside your house and your kids are asleep, you're just sitting there incapable of doing anything about it. lemonis: they made it over the border, only to confront a new challenge -- money. female interpreter: when we first got here, living in lebanon was really difficult.
our kids needed to go to school. we needed money for rent. lemonis: aalaa solved that problem with a simple idea. she started recycling plastic bags. weaving them into baskets, totes, and handbags. the jellyfish brand was born. female interpreter: we can reduce the number of plastic bags in nature and help the ladies secure an income for themselves. lemonis: now she and ten other women hand crochet each bag. they sell them at farmers markets and of course, cynthia's store. it's a lot of work. how much do you sell this for? female interpreter: this basket is 100,000 lebanese pounds. lemonis: that's $66 u.s. the ladies get 60% of the sale price. the other 40% goes back into the business, towards transportation and supplies. do you have inventory right now to sell? do you have more than this already finished? female interpreter: yes, absolutely.
we've got a good amount of stock. we've got more than 50 pieces. lemonis: i think they should charge more. if we get people excited about the product 'cause it's beautiful and it's purposeful, then you can sell more than you can make. once you sell more than you can make, like a boat in water, the price goes up. business advice is easy, but i can't help them with what they want most. what are you most worried about? female interpreter: i'm afraid we won't get to go back to syria. lemonis: and that's your dream, to go back? female interpreter #2: yes, all of us feel that. there's no bigger dream than that for us. lemonis: as they deal with an uncertain future, it's time for me to face my past. six months before arriving in lebanon, i got in contact with moustapha kassem, the "nbc news" producer in beirut. for more than 40 years he's covered wars, peace deals, and protests both in lebanon and throughout the middle east.
but i gave him one of his most unusual assignments yet -- finding out who gave me up and why. i sent him the only information i had -- the name of the orphanage and the day i was born. he's got some news for me. to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing it's best to make you everybody else...
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lemonis: the more i get to know lebanon, the more i realize just how much this culture is a part of me. but before i find out about my roots, i'm gonna visit one more place with deep roots of its own. i'm heading east from beirut to the mountain vineyards and the village of bhamdoun. i feel like we're out in the middle of the country. jill: [ speaking arabic ] lemonis: i'm here to meet jill and naji boutros. i'm marcus. naji: hi, marcus, i'm naji. how are you? lemonis: nice to meet you. naji: nice to meet you. jill: hi. jill. lemonis: jill, nice to meet you. jill: pleasure to meet you. welcome. lemonis: and you had a little arabic in there, and then all of a sudden... jill: because this is where we are. lemonis: where we are is chateau belle-vue, the winery they built from the ground up. complete with high-end restaurant, hotel, and 60 acres of vineyards that produce award-winning wines. naji grew up here, jill's from a little further away. jill: i grew up in minnesota.
lemonis: come on. jill: i swear. lemonis: how did you meet? naji: um. jill: we were at college together at notre dame. lemonis: if you ask naji, midwest and middle east is a perfect combination. were you different before you met her? naji: yes, i was a bit -- i want to say -- tougher. jill softened the corners of naji. kind of like how merlot softens the corners of cabernet sauvignon, you'll taste that with the wine. jill: you're such a poet. i was just gonna say that. jill: honestly... naji: let's walk. lemonis: after grad school, they started their lives and their family abroad, naji as an investment banker at merrill lynch, jill, a school teacher. but for naji, the pull of home was strong. naji: oh, it was so beautiful, i mean, for me, 17 years living overseas, coming back here and planting my grandfather's land. lemonis: it was awesome. naji: it was awesome. yeah. lemonis: in 1860, naji's great-grandfather built
hotel belle-vue, the winery's namesake and his childhood home. naji: it was impeccable. it was known to be the most beautiful hotel in mount lebanon at the time. lemonis: and what else was around? naji: well, it was basically homes like this and vineyards everywhere, everywhere you look up in the mountains, all these hills were vineyards. lemonis: bhamdoun was known throughout the middle east as the place to vacation... ...until the civil war. tourists were replaced by militias. in one battle, some 300 people in this small village were massacred. reporter: the mountain town of bhamdoun fell, some of its wrecked buildings still smolder. lemonis: by 1983, hotel belle-vue and the place he loved was destroyed. naji: the entire village was looted this way. jill: so we don't have, you know, family photos, carpets, art, furniture. naji: but it doesn't matter, because the memory is alive
and because some people escaped it, and as long as the memory's alive, you can bring it back to life. you can rebuild it. lemonis: but can't say that it doesn't sting a little. naji: oh, it stings a lot. lemonis: war leaves its scars, some visible, some not. i was only 9, watching it unfold from 6,000 miles away. i used to have dreams when i was a little boy, because i would see the television and my parents were always very descriptive about where i came from. and i used to always wonder in my mind, "would i have to walk around with a gun? what if i wouldn't have been taken out of the orphanage? was it bombed? would i be in the military?" for me, it was just that -- a question mark. but for naji, it was reality. naji: it was the other side of me which was basically when i had to carry a gun, you know. like, myself as the other kids in the village, basically we had to do it to defend the village.
lemonis: what kind of gun was it? naji: it was an ak-47 or an m-16, you know. lemonis: you had to walk around with one? naji: oh, yeah, i mean, we were part of the local christian militia. jill: protecting the village. naji: protecting the village. lemonis: how old were you? naji: you were given no options from... jill: 16, 17. naji: ...17 until 18. so they... lemonis: did you have friends get killed? naji: oh, a lot of friends get killed, yeah... a lot of friends. lemonis: despite the fighting, naji's family managed to get him out of the country. naji: marcus, i left lebanon under dire circumstances. it used to take me weeks to get hold of my family after they were kicked out of here. there were no phone lines, and i'm in the phone booth day after day trying to get hold of them. finally the phone rings, and i'm calling my mom, and said, "mom, i want to come back. my place is not here, my place is with you." and the sound of the bombs behind her, she said, "come back, my son, we'll all die together." lemonis: literally. naji: literally. and my uncle phillip picked up the phone and gave me a piece of his mind on the phone.
he was a tough guy in my family, and he said, "what are you talking about? you are our only hope. stick it out, there. you can do it, you're our only hope." and i did. lemonis: he did more than stick it out -- successful career in london, family, friends. but something was missing. jill: before we married, naji said to me, you know, "if there's ever a chance for me to go back and make a change in my village, i'm gonna want to try it." and i felt like he deserved that opportunity. lemonis: naji and jill moved back in 1999 to raise grapes and to rebuild bhamdoun. you know, it's interesting you could be in a small town in italy, and it would be no different. naji: oh, but it's the same. the village is the family, marcus, you know. jill: this is what the valley looked like before we started. so, you can see the stone walls that are still in place, it was all wild. lemonis: it was hard work, but as their vines blossomed,
so did the village's prospects, and people started to return. naji: to put together 60 acres took about 20 years. lemonis: would that make you one of the largest wine producers in this area? naji: we are definitely the largest in this area in terms of acreage under vine. lemonis: today, they produce more than 20,000 bottles a year and sell them all over the world, part of the $50 million lebanese wine industry. are these filled? naji: yeah, these are full. jill: oh, yeah. lemonis: this is inventory? naji: there's about 200,000 bottles of wine here. lemonis: and you're letting this age? naji: we age our wine 6 years minimum in the bottle and 2 years in the barrels. jill: so all of this that you see is waiting. naji: yeah. lemonis: thank you. naji: friendship. jill: and welcome home. lemonis: thank you. home, it's such a simple word. but as i've known all my life, getting there can be complicated. ♪
back in beirut, it's finally time to visit my first home, the orphanage. it's called the creche. waiting for me there, moustapha, nbc's producer in lebanon. hey, buddy. moustapha: hey. lemonis: how are you? moustapha: how are you? lemonis: good to see you. moustapha: yeah, me too. lemonis: we're gonna meet some of the nuns who run the creche. it's a moment i've imagined my whole life. but i'm completely unprepared for the unconditional love from sister yvonne azar. hi. yvonne: marcus? lemonis: yes. yvonne: [ kisses loudly ] lemonis: sister yvonne is the head of the orphanage. she's gonna open the door to my past.
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lemonis: i've been in lebanon for several days, and i have to admit, i've been a little uneasy here. i didn't understand why until now. yvonne: marcus? lemonis: yes. i'm in my orphanage for the first time in 44 years. and i never thought i'd be this emotional. moustapha: this is the nun. lemonis: sister yvonne has welcomed me back with the warmth of someone who's made it her mission to care for children. the orphanage is now a daycare. but before it changed, some 2,000 children were adopted from here. i'm really glad moustapha is with me, especially in throom which hasn't changed since i was adopted in 1974.
what is this? moustapha: this is your bed. yvonne: you're sad. the tiny cribs are original and kept here so people like me, those who return, can see what their first home was like. as a newborn, i would have slept in one of them. so, my mother used to tell me this story about the crib and the way they used to shake it, and it would move all around. moustapha: mm. lemonis: so i can see the wheels. when i went into the actual room that the nun told me that i slept in and saw the actual crib, and the fact that it had casters i think is probably what really lit my emotion for me. because it put it all together, and it made it very real as opposed to generic. and if that wasn't powerful enough, down the hall, sister yvonne wants to show me something else. this book holds my story.
this says, "what's the date," here. yvonne: eight. lemonis: it's written in french, the language of the convent. this paper is the translation, on it the names i have never known until this moment -- my birth parents. to protect them, i'm not revealing their last names. this is my name? moustapha: yes. so, it says, "ricardo..." that's my name? moustapha: yeah. okay, i always wanted to be a ricardo. ricardo. my name's ricardo. it says i was brought here four days after i was born -- four days. and then, something unexpected -- "father, abdallel..., mother, nadia..., syrian..." my birth mother was from syria. i am part syrian. so i'm from syria? moustapha: yes, syrian from baniyas. lemonis: so i was not born in lebanon?
moustapha: you're born in lebanon, yes. lemonis: i was born in lebanon... moustapha: yes, yes. lemonis: ...but my mother was syrian. moustapha: yes, 100%. did i have a brother or a sister, or i came by myself? moustapha: no, you came by yourself. lemonis: for sure? moustapha: yeah. moustapha: "living separately, the mother work for georges... at a hotel in hamra. they told me that the child had been abandoned." so who brought me here? moustapha: so that's the question. lemonis: my last name is that of my birth mother, not of my birth father. moustapha says the best guess is that they weren't married or the name of my birth father is fake. what more can i learn about my birth mother, nadia? the paragraph is short, and the nuns can only guess. yvonne: [ speaking arabic ] moustapha: she's saying that she used to work in lebanon to make money. i mean, it's... lemonis: my mother did? moustapha: yeah. lemonis: and she got pregnant, and she probably didn't want to take me back home.
moustapha: yeah, exactly. lemonis: and she was maybe hiding here? moustapha: yes. lemonis: while the other book shows the names of my birth parents, this book shows the ones who came and adopted me. yeah, that's my... that's my address of in area. and the record of my new name. yvonne: marcus anthony. yvonne: [ speaking arabic ] moustapha: the most important part that your family loves you. your dad and mom love you. lemonis: oh, yeah, more than anything. i had the best life. moustapha: yeah. yvonne: [ speaking arabic ] moustapha: you know what she said? "the tissue paper is so expensive, stop crying." lemonis: don't use it. don't... moustapha: stop crying. stop crying. lemonis: i can buy you more. tell her, "i did okay, i can buy a lot of kleenex." moustapha: okay. yvonne: [ speaking arabic ] moustapha: no, she doesn't want you to cry. lemonis: no, i know. moustapha: yeah. lemonis: just so she knows, it's tears of -- it's gratefulness, it's not -- i'm not sad.
i spent the first three or four days puzzled by my uncomfortableness here. i was like a fish out of water. why was i open to doing this? it struck me square in the face. when i turned the corner in the orphanage, and i saw an 80-year-old-plus nun who almost looked at me and greeted me as if i was her long-lost relative. i would use the words "spiritual" or "moving" or "cathartic." it was crazy for me. that's all sister yvonne has to share with me. i will forever be grateful for her kindness and grace. thank you. bye-bye. yvonne: bye. lemonis: bye-bye. moustapha: thank you. lemonis: one huge question remains --
are my biological parents still alive? like a detective, moustapha spotted clues in that birth record. the whole passage refers to my birth mother, not my birth father. clue number 1, she worked in a hotel in hamra run by a man named george. and my birth mother worked at a hotel. moustapha: yeah, so, the hotel does not exist anymore. lemonis: clue number 2, what about the man who told the nuns i was abandoned? and george was the owner of the hotel? moustapha: george was the director of the hotel. lemonis: oh. moustapha: george is dead. lemonis: clue number 3, nadia was from baniyas, syria. moustapha: i sent people from area to area in syria to search, and my wife and my daughter, they helped me a lot on facebook. lemonis: another dead end. moustapha finally zeroed in on the phone number that belonged to my birth mother in 1973. moustapha: the phone number also it's an old number.
lemonis: after weeks of work, moustapha got access to the old directories. the phone number was assigned to a building in west beirut. moustapha: i went to the hamra street and then i found the building. i found this mr. ahmad. lemonis: mr. ahmad is a shopkeeper, and he told moustapha he knew a nadia that lived in the building a long time ago. moustapha: and when i mentioned the name, he said 100% that's nadia.
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for nearly seven months, and he's finally found someone that knows her -- a shopkeeper named ahmad jamal al-din. talk about surreal. i'm gonna meet him on the street where my birth mother used to live. moustapha: this is mystery marcus. lemonis: how are you? nice to meet you. ahmad has an immediate reaction to seeing me. ahmad: [ speaking arabic ] moustapha: you look like your mom. you look like your mom. the same details, the same eyes, the same, yeah, the smile. she's tiny, yeah. and she's classy, she used to wear, like, a jacket. lemonis: of course she's classy. moustapha: she is classy. lemonis: for sure. he remembers my birth mother, nadia, always said hello to him on the street and points out the balcony on the third floor where she used to live. so, is this zero? moustapha: this is zero. one, two, three. yeah, and you see this tree there? lemonis: the one where the tree's at? moustapha: yeah, it's that. [ siren wails ]
lemonis: during the civil war, he and nadia used to shelter in the same basement during the worst of the fighting. but in the '80s, she moved away. then, an amazing coincidence. when is the last time you saw her? [ moustapha and ahmad speaking arabic ] moustapha: like three, four months, she came here and she stand a few feet, like, few seconds. yeah. and she was looking up at the balcony at the building. lemonis: damn! she was just here. but when ahmad saw her, he had no idea that moustapha was looking for her. moustapha: yeah. lemonis: he doesn't know anybody that knows her? moustapha: he knows people that know her, but... lemonis: who are those people? moustapha: ...but they disappear, you know? lemonis: and, so, he doesn't know anybody today? moustapha: no. lemonis: as i talk about the woman who gave birth to me, and seeing her name, and going to her old neighborhood, and seeing her apartment building, and having a man on the street say that i look just like her,
all of the sudden this woman became very real to me. fate is such a strange thing. a lucky glance out a shop window might mean that my birth mother is still around. but ahmad didn't know i was trying to find her. he promises to keep looking and so will i. he has your number now? moustapha: sure, sure, we're like... lemonis: so if he sees... moustapha: yeah, yeah, sure, you know. lemonis: thank you. thank you very much. when you find out something so huge in your life, it's like where do you go from there? certainly not a 3,000-year-old beach town on the mediterranean, and definitely not this place. jamil: cheers. lemonis: cheers, brother. but sometimes things happen for a reason. my story isn't over yet.
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so, what do you think? now i feel i can do more to go beyond lowering a1c. ask your doctor about jardiance today. now i feel i can do more to go beyond lowering a1c. ♪ lemonis: i'm in the ancient city of batroun, 30 miles north of beirut. and after what i just found out... it says "ricardo," that's my name? moustapha: yeah. lemonis: okay. ...you're probably wondering why i'm here. well, i didn't just come to lebanon to find out about my past. i wanted to understand how this country is going to move into the future. man: hi, guys. lemonis: and if you want to know what the future looks like, meet jamil haddad,
one of lebanon's first craft beer makers. jamil: this is the beer process. lemonis: what makes it lebanese? jamil: passion. lemonis: that's a good answer! he opened colonel brewery back in 2014 and now has 70 employees. how many different varieties do you bottle? jamil: bottling? two. but i have on tap more than 78 types of beer. lemonis: which he serves at his beer garden and beach front bar right next to his windsurfing school. after all, it was windsurfing that got him into this in the first place. jamil: 16 years old, i wanted to buy new windsurf gear, but i couldn't afford to buy, to pay for $4,000. so i said i'm going to work. lemonis: he tried being a bartender. but quickly realized he can make more money making alcohol than serving it. jamil: i made liquor at home, and i sold them in three days, and i made my first $5,000.
lemonis: how old were you? 18, 19? jamil: 16. lemonis: when you were drinking liquor and windsurfing? jamil: yeah. lemonis: and your parents were cool with that? jamil: at the beginning, no, but... lemonis: okay, okay. then they saw the money. jamil: you teach your parents what to accept, not the opposite. lemonis: not my parents. jamil: my parents, it worked with me. lemonis: yeah, well, that's good for you. jamil: yeah. lemonis: today jamil has invested nearly $1.5 million in his business. he's also expanding his product line to include vodka and gin. jamil: smell this. this is too much, man. lemonis: that was awesome. and, of course, i've got to try it. jamil: cheers. lemonis: cheers, brother. jamil: do you want to walk? lemonis: but i don't think we can take our drinks. jamil: we can. lemonis: they don't care? jamil: if you're not hurting anyone, you can do whatever you want. ♪ lemonis: jamil was born and raised here
and serves as sort of an unofficial mayor. lemonis: this is pretty. jamil: so, this was the shopping main street, and this leads to the port. lemonis: oh, there's a port here? jamil: yeah, we're going there. lemonis: phoenician traders built up this port city some 3,000 years ago. parts of the original sea wall still stand. jamil may have grown up surrounded by history, but he's not looking back. what do you hope for the future for you? jamil: this beauty, what you saw right now, it's gonna be everywhere in the world -- the partnership and franchise, everywhere. and lebanon now is better than lebanon 30, 40 years ago, way better. lemonis: why? jamil: our parents' generation, they did the work, we didn't. now we have the mentality we can build a project for 10, 20, 30, 50 years. it's not about, like, i have to make money... lemonis: instant success. jamil: yes. lemonis: not everyone's as bullish on the future
as jamil, given lebanon's recent history. larger regional powers have interfered here for decades -- syria, saudi arabia, iran. and in 2006, the country faced a month-long war with israel. jamil: this is, like, the oldest local sea where the locals come. lemonis: but walking with jamil past walls that have stood here for thousands of years, i can't help but feel that they and the lebanese people will be here for thousands more. you should be proud of yourself. this is a big deal. jamil: thank you. lemonis: and you've thought it out really well. and i tell you one of the reasons why i wanted to meet you... jamil: why? i wanted to ask you this question. lemonis: i'll tell you. my biggest concern in coming back here is this is my heritage. jamil: yeah. lemonis: i wanted to understand how this country was gonna survive and what the future will look like. jamil: it's people. the land of this country is rich. wherever you put, you get in return in it. this is the beauty of this country.
this is lebanon. lebanon is people, is the history, it's the land. we're in the middle of the whole world. look, this is europe is next door, and you have israel next door. you are in the middle. lemonis: the intersection. jamil: yeah. lemonis: it's my last night in beirut, and i feel like going for a walk. a storm is approaching as i head toward the mohammed al-amin mosque whose blue dome and soaring minarets are among the city's best-known landmarks. a couple of blocks further, i come across this partially demolished structure bathed in purple light. it's some kind of art exhibit, and it seems to call to me. what i find is both bewilderiand beautiful. ♪
who made these? where did the artist come from? and what are these paintings trying to tell me. it turns out they're all by an anonymous artist named saint hoax who seems obsessed with the hidden truths behind famous people. one painting in particular catches my eye. it says, "is that all there is?" so, the artist is anonymous? stephanie: yes. lemonis: stephanie kassouf is the exhibit's project manager. lemonis: and the artist is from? stephanie: syria. lemonis: from syria? stephanie: yes. lemonis: syria, just like my birth mother. we don't know if it's a man or a woman. we don't know the age. we know nothing. stephanie: no, no, there's a lot of speculations on the gender. and sometimes, you know, you'll hear "he"s and then you might hear "she." so i can't personally confirm that. lemonis: the more mystery, the better. it gets me thinking. maybe i don't need to find my birth mother. maybe she doesn't want to be found.
maybe she's the artist. it's also starting to make sense for me why this exhibit is being held here. we're inside of what's left of a movie theater in an iconic building nicknamed "the egg." the building was bombed during the civil war but still stands proudly despite its scars. i love this piece. stephanie: it's a beautiful piece. it really is. lemonis: i think it really addresses how people feel. stephanie: right. lemonis: i want to buy it. stephanie: yeah? lemonis: for sure. stephanie: sold. yeah, i feel that you're relating a lot to the... lemonis: the fact that the artist anonymous actually means more to me, because i don't want to put a name or a face on it. stephanie: that's nice. that's beautiful. lemonis: that's it. stephanie: that's beautiful. lemonis: and so i leave this exhibit grateful for what i have, and convinced that i have found what i was looking for. my search for my birth mother may be at an end,
but lebanon still has more to give me. i get to select my room from the floor plan... free wi-fi... ...and the price match guarantee. so with hilton there is no catch. yeah the only catch is i'm never leaving. no i'm serious, i live here now. book at hilton.com and get the hilton price match guarantee. ♪ roasted pine nuts... book at hilton.com ♪ mmm this red pepper... ♪ that's spicy stuff... fresh flavor. feel good food. sabra hummus. ♪ i just had sabra hummus and now i feel good! ♪ to be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing it's best to make you everybody else... ♪ ♪
means to fight the hardest battle, which any human being can fight and never stop. does this sound dismal? it isn't. ♪ ♪ it's the most wonderful life on earth. ♪ ♪ when you rent from national... it's kind of like playing your own version of best ball. it's the most wonderful life on earth. because here, you can choose any car in the aisle, even if it's a better car class than the one you reserved. so no matter what, you're guaranteed to have a perfect drive. [laughter] (vo) go national. go like a pro. see what i did there?
♪ lemonis: you never know what you're going to find when you go digging into your past. lebanon and its people have changed me. they're a reminder that life can be rebuilt in places where that seems all but impossible. the most exciting part of my trip into lebanon has been meeting the few people that are pretty similar in age in a range and similar in spirit, in terms of what they're trying to do for themselves and for other people. and whether it's starting a brewery, or whether it's being an artist, or whether it's saving a building, i saw a little bit of me in every one of them. they reminded me that every generation has a chance
to fix the previous one's mistakes. i'm leaving lebanon with new-found connections, lifelong bonds that go beyond friendship... naji: marcus, you're part of my family now. lemonis: ...making a strange place feel like home. okay, group hug. and i've got one last thing to do. thank you so much. since so many shared their stories with me, i now have something to share with them. i want to show you this. i'm starting with cynthia, the boutique owner. so, my birth mother is from where? cynthia: syria. lemonis: right. cynthia: you never knew about this before? lemonis: i found out yesterday. cynthia: right, yesterday? lemonis: i knew nothing. cynthia: oh, my god. lemonis: she isn't the only one blown away by what i found. so, i want to show you something. amin at café younes is my next visit. so, i know what a family man you are. amin: yeah. lemonis: and i know how important that is to you.
i give amin my orphanage record, and he reads my birth story. amin: it's you? lemonis: and in an instant, i've made another friend for life. when you come back to a war-torn place, and you go into a building and you see a 44-plus-year-old crib still there, and you think to yourself, "it could have gone left, it could have gone right." as luck would have it, it went in a way that gave me the life i have. [ quietly ] i'm very grateful. my journey to this country has led me to a powerful discovery.
i think it definitely cemented who i am, and it definitely... it definitely validated why i do what i do. it's what inspires me more than ever to invest in people so they can find the right path in their own lives. as for my path, i may be part-syrian, but i'm still lebanese-born and american-made. that's how my mom and dad raised me. that's who i am. ♪ ♪ ♪
this is one of the most storied pieces of real estate in the entire world -- the las vegas strip. in 2017, more than 40 million people came to vegas, and they spent $34 billion. i wanted to see how the city works -- not as a spectacle, but as a business. so i'm going to spend the entire next three days and $20,000 of my own money learning how vegas got so good at separating you from your cash. we'll keep track of every cent, and i'm betting we'll learn a few secrets along the way. ♪