Tilman Fertitta said he wanted to film an episode of his hit reality show “Billion Dollar Buyer” in Biloxi, and on Thursday he made that happen at Golden Nugget Casino Biloxi.
On the show, he asks entrepreneurs to test their products at one his many properties. He owns Landry’s, Inc., the casino’s parent company that has more than 500 dining, hospitality and entertainment properties in 36 states and casinos in Biloxi, Las Vegas, Atlantic City, Laughlin, Nevada and Lake Charles, Louisiana.
On Thursday, guests at Golden Nugget were invited to stop at a display in the retail section of the resort and try lipstick by Kismet of Covington, Louisiana.
Next week, Fertitta returns to Biloxi to see how customers at the resort’s pool like the organic popsicles made by Pop Brothers of Gulfport.
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The first season of “Billion Dollar Buyer” aired Tusedays on CNBC. Due to its popularity, the show will expand from six episodes to 12 episodes in season two. Each episode features two businesses, and Fertitta told the Sun Herald the two shows filmed in Biloxi will be seen in separate episodes, doubling the exposure for South Mississippi.
“Entrepreneurs are everywhere,” he said, and after the first season featured business owners from mostly metropolitan areas, he asked the producers to find entrepreneurs from the Gulf Coast.
He didn’t have anyone helping him on his way up, said Fertitta, who started in business with one restaurant. The editing process may not make it clear, but he said every entrepreneur who appeared on the show thanked him for the advice he shared.
The owner and one employee of Kismet watched a few episodes of the show to prepare for their opportunity with Fertitta, said Brittany Tillman, the company’s brand manager.
“I’m feeling very confident,” said owner Caitlin Picou. Even if Fertitta doesn’t place an order, Picou said she values the chance to benefit from his expertise.
“He’s just to the point,” she said.
Fertitta said that in just a few minutes of talking to the owners, he can identify their companies’ Achilles’ heel.
In the case of Kismet Cosmetics, Picou guessed he will tell her it is their lack of a business plan.
Their cosmetics are made in America without animal testing and she said, “Jubilee Boutique in Ocean Springs carries our line.”
Two waitresses working at the resort’s pool were testing the company’s bronzer and lipstick Thursday to see how they hold up to heat and humidity.
Resort guest Sarah Mclain and her young daughter, Fallyn, of Laurel gave the lipstick a try.
“It was actually pretty good,” Mclain said. She chose the color and said she probably will buy the brand if it is sold at the resort.
Fertitta said the hot sauce and other products he bought during last season’s show are doing very well. The exception is the company that makes custom handbags and briefcases, because the owner is having trouble keeping up with production.
No date has been set yet for when the Biloxi episodes will air, but Fertitta said he expects season two to start in late fall and pick up again after the first of the year.
While he helps small businesses with their success, he still manages his own businesses empire, including the casino and restaurants in East Biloxi.
“I’m thrilled with this,” he said of the resort that had a $100 million makeover after he purchased it. “It creates energy in this area,” he said, and he has ideas for additional development.
“We would like to do more in this area right here,” he said, but didn’t reveal what those plans are.
The casino division of Golden Nugget had its best year in 2015 and that is carrying into 2016, he said.
But like the entrepreneurs he coaches, he shares his business expertise with state officials.
“You can overbuild,” he said. Too many casinos in Biloxi will lead to layoffs and the downturn of the industry, he said, and offered Atlantic City as the example of what can happen if the state ignores that advice.