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How reality TV can make business ownership a reality

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The Sorrentino family at Boca Tanning Salon in Middletown.  From left, Frank, Mike “The Situation” Melissa, Linda and Marc.
The Sorrentino family at Boca Tanning Salon in Middletown. From left, Frank, Mike “The Situation” Melissa, Linda and Marc. - (PHOTO BY AARON HOUSTON)

Whether you hate to love him or love to hate him, there's no changing the fact that Michael Sorrentino is one of the most recognizable cast members from the MTV reality series “Jersey Shore.”

The question is: Do you recognize his name?

Sorrentino, who was known as “The Situation” on the show, is betting you do — or you soon will — as he attempts to turn his name into a commodity in the business world.

So far, it's working.

Sorrentino, along with his mother Linda, his oldest brother Frank, his older brother Marc, his younger sister Melissa and her fiancé Michael Sussman, opened the Boca Tanning Club last month in Middletown. And it already has become one of the most lucrative and fastest-growing tanning franchises in the company.

Sorrentino used his earnings from “Jersey Shore” — from the show to all of the promotional opportunities that came with it — to provide the capital to open the tanning club.

“I knew that if I never had the opportunity to be on television again, I needed something for myself and my family to continue our success,” he said.

Only now the business focus has shifted from The Situation to Boca.

When Sorrentino received an offer in 2011 from Boca Tanning Club to be the face and part-owner of the company, he brought his family along.

His brother Frank brings more than 10 years of experience in corporate retail and banking to his role as vice president of human resources and employee development. His brother Marc, who graduated from New York University with a master's in real estate development and is currently CEO of MPS Entertainment, is responsible for business analyses, planning and contracts.

His sister Melissa, vice president of operations and a recent graduate of Brookdale Community College with a degree in business management, selects products and aesthetics for the club's desired clientele. Her fiancé Sussman, area director, is integral in implementing sales goals, promotions and accounting

And Sorrentino's mother Linda, a recently retired schoolteacher, helps keep her children organized.

In May, the family will open another location in Manalapan, their current hometown.

And … wait for it … be closer to the launch of another reality show, “The Sorrentinos,” which will air on the TV Guide Network.

The family hopes the new show will be good for business. They promise it will not hurt it.

Frank Sorrentino stresses that “The Sorrentinos,” which is two-thirds of the way through filming the first season, has not interfered with regular business.

“All it really does is force our staff members to sign confidentiality clauses for the purpose of film and entertainment,” he said. “However, since our show is not scripted, the storyline truly depends on how the editors piece it together.”

E-mail to: megf@njbiz.com
On Twitter: @megfry3

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Meg Fry

Meg Fry

Meg Fry covers manufacturing and retail. Meg joins NJBIZ with past production experience in the arts, film and television. She continues to write and market her own spec scripts and screenplays. You can contact her at megf@njbiz.com or @MegFry3 on Twitter.

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