Starring a charismatic New Orleans based investment mogul, Sidney Torres’ new series on CNBC, The Deed, shows how to invest in real estate. In the second episode, a building contractor named Russell, the son of a real estate agent, wants Sidney to invest in his project, but does not want to follow his advice. Sidney really wants to mentor Russell, but Russell seems to have a mind of his own about how to invest in properties, and you see the young man chafing, his ego bruised, as Sidney proves him wrong, about details of paint, floors, and especially pricing. Just before the episode aired, I had a chance to talk to Sidney about his show. He called his time with Russell a failure, but it sure makes for good television.
When I was developing my garbage company in New Orleans after Katrina, I got used to being on television. When CNBC approached me about doing The Deed, I was renovating my resort in the Bahamas, so it took awhile and now we are on the air. Things change for me daily. Garbage. I did not know I would do that business. I came back to New Orleans to help out and got into a 100 million dollar business. I developed hotels and sold them to a chain. I like to get involved with companies with troubled assets and people and turn them around. My show shows how to make money in real estate.
Why a reality tv show? Aren’t there so many?
The difference is it’s real. A lot of fixer upper shows are staged. With CNBC I’m putting up my own money going into the product. I have a lot on the line. In the first season, I put in 1 and ½ million.
Did you make back your investment?
Yes, but I am not always successful. The show you will see tomorrow night didn’t have a great ending. The guy wanted my money but he did not want to take my advice. Real estate is about location location location, and this guy got property in Treme across from a funeral parlor and next to a major highway.
If I wanted to be on your show, how would I do it?
That’s a good question. CNBC’s production company contacts bankers and local real estate agents to get possible candidates.
Wait a minute. Wasn’t Tony Soprano is the garbage business? How do I know you are not in the mafia?
I don’t think the Sopranos were respected in the community. You can see what I do. I am well liked in the community. I have developed in the Caribbean, and in Haiti, I give to earthquake victims. I am not in the mafia.
Donald Trump is developer-in-chief. Is Trump a role model for you?
I look at his accomplishments from being an underdog to being a president. I am not outspoken about my political views. He did win, and we do have to fight for causes we believe in, not fight him. My influences are more the soccer coach who got me into real estate, the police officer in my community, my grandmother who invested in me.
Are you going to run for mayor of New Orleans?
In my experience, businesses can shape communities, lending skills. Communities can use the help. After using a new crime app in the French Quarter, crime dropped by 45%. I will make that decision 10 minutes before it has to be made. I don’t take on anything unless it’s in my soul.