After building a real estate fortune, Sean Conlon gets a TV show

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After building a real estate fortune, Sean Conlon gets a TV show

By: Alby Gallun
Crain’s Chicago Business

New York real estate developer Donald Trump had “The Apprentice.” Now Chicago developer Sean Conlon has “The Deed.”

That's the name of a real estate reality television show co-hosted by the colorful Irishman that premieres in March on CNBC. Like Trump, Conlon is getting into show business after making his fortune in real estate; unlike Trump, he started at the bottom, as a janitor in 1990, soon after he immigrated to Chicago.

In “The Deed,” Conlon and co-host Sidney Torres, a New Orleans entrepreneur and real estate investor, “come to the aid of struggling property investors in dire need of help,” according to a CNBC statement. They provide money and expertise to turn around failing single-family home projects in Chicago and New Orleans. Think a real estate version of “The Profit,” the CNBC show hosted by Marcus Lemonis.

“It's basically about people who get into rehabs, flips, developments, and they get sideways,” Conlon said. “If I was going to tailor a show for my life, this would be it.”

Conlon, 47, admits to getting into plenty of jams in his own real estate career. He got started in residential brokerage and went on to found his own firm, Sussex & Reilly, in 2000. He branched out into investment, finance and development, both in commercial and residential markets. Conlon's current businesses include Conlon/Christie's International Real Estate, a residential brokerage; Conlon & Co., a merchant bank; and Connaught Real Estate Finance, an investment firm.

His Chicago real estate holdings, meanwhile, include the Talbot Hotel in the Gold Coast and the Rainforest Cafe in River North.

In “The Deed,” Conlon and Torres each host four of the show's eight one-hour episodes. Conlon said his shows involve projects ranging in value from $100,000 to $2 million. The series is produced by CNBC and Cineflex Media. Jim Ackerman, the CNBC executive behind “The Profit,” is an executive producer of “The Deed.”

Conlon, meanwhile, doesn't see his TV career as a steppingstone to politics, quipping that the birther crowd might not look favorably upon his Irish heritage. But he does see a potential path to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave.

“I guess if Donald condos the White House, I can buy one and get there that way!” he said in a text message.

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