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Franchises Takes Center Stage in Reality TV

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- "Turning average Joes into CEOs."

That's the tag line for A&E's new reality TV show, "Be the Boss."

The show, which premiered this past Sunday featuring nutritional supplement retail franchise Complete Nutrition , pits two lower-level store employees against each other to compete for what is supposed to be a big promotion at corporate headquarters. In reality, the two are competing for the chance to become the owner of a new franchise location (with the runner-up still winning that corporate promotion).

As the economic recovery trudges along in fits and starts, A&E is betting television viewers will relate to the employees' struggles to better their careers, in this case achieving the American Dream by becoming their own boss through franchise ownership.

More importantly, the show highlights that the price for ownership doesn't come without hard work and a key component to any successful franchise: valuable employees.

The franchise industry reported 2.2% growth in September over the previous year, the largest since the beginning of the recession. That suggests franchising is playing a major part in the economic recovery, according to the International Franchise Association.

"As the economy has sputtered, and folks have lost their jobs or are considering a career change, franchising has become an increasingly popular industry for aspiring entrepreneurs to consider," says Matt Haller, a spokesman for the IFA. "Franchising is a proven, structured and very scalable model that can be (and has been) an important component of our nation's economy."

Companies also to be featured in the first season of "Be the Boss" include Auntie Anne's , Signal 88 Security , Molly Maid , Jazzercise and The Melting Pot .

"We have been approached in the past by other reality shows. I think it comes back to the values," says Bill Dunn, president and COO of Auntie Anne's. "The vision of 'Be the Boss' and our vision and values as a company were very much aligned. It was an easy decision to make. It comes back to the American Dream -- recognizing individuals for their efforts and giving them opportunities that maybe they never had had before. They had all the tools, but they might not have had all the financial needs."

"When those doors open of the winner's store they're not only going to have the tools, but the ongoing support from our franchise business consultants in the field working with our franchisee partners on a daily basis," Dunn says.

The Auntie Anne's episode airs Dec. 16.

"Be the Boss" was created by the same team behind CBS' hit series "Undercover Boss," which debuted in 2010. In "Undercover Boss," CEOs of well-known franchise brands including BrightStar Care, Fastsigns and Cinnabon don disguises in order to experience the jobs of lower-level employees without being noticed.