But reality-TV fame has a price. Charles says that he had to close his salon for two months while filming "Beverly Hills Fabulous." He only had Sundays and one other weekday to style hair for clients. "They came in like a storm and took over," says Charles. The producers set up storyboards that mapped out the episodes. "I didn't have much control," he says.
Editing can create misconceptions about the business. "Ace of Cakes" never showed the bakers washing their hands. Many viewers assumed that they didn't. Goldman still gets emails and letters from viewers saying that they should be washing their hands. They did, it just never made it on the screen. "A show about people washing their hands would be a boring show," Goldman says.
Another downside: Being bossed around. "I'm 47 and I've never worked for anybody in my life," says Harrison of "Pawn Stars." ''Now you have somebody else telling you what to do." Producers tell him what time to come to work and he has to make appearances to promote the show. He has to take direction while filming. "They'll say, 'Rick, raise your voice you're not talking loud enough,' and it's a 27-year-old director telling me these things," says Harrison.
Not every small business makes good TV. Producers say they are most interested in family-run companies. "That's the Holy Grail," says Darryl Silver, the owner of The Idea Factory, the production company pitching Schneller's pickle-business reality show. They do well because viewers are able to relate to the characters.
That's true for the stars of "Welcome to Sweetie Pie's." Owner Robbie Montgomery says fans come to her restaurants featured in the show and liken her to their own grandmothers.