On the TV show and in real life, Lemonis advises individuals on how to succeed in business. Over 40,000 applications come into the show asking Lemonis for help.

His number one rule is being financially literate.

“I don’t expect everyone to be a math genius,” he says. “But I expect them to understand basic principles of addition and subtraction.”

Mediaplanet: What’s the biggest obstacle to financial literacy?

Marcus Lemonis: Putting your pride aside is probably the biggest key. I reccomend getting financial advice from someone you trust, as well as from online resources, community college classes and the public library. The time that you take to study and learn those things will give you a significant leg up on the competition.

MP: What impact is your show having on kids?

ML: We have a lot of young people watching our show. It’s exciting to know kids want to grow up to be in business. I think they’re realizing you can’t be in business if you don’t have basic financial literacy.

MP: What’s the difference between saving and investing?

ML: I’m a big believer in saving money and I’m a big believer in having reserves for rainy days. Savings is rainy-day-for-the-future and investing is money that you can afford to risk. You can’t afford to risk savings in my opinion.

Savings can help you if you need cash for an emergency like a job loss. In the case of saving and investing, I’m looking for you to save money to provide for your future, provide for a rainy day and I don’t ever think that money should be used for investing.

MP: What’s the number one rule for investing?

ML: If you’re going to invest, you have to get comfortable with the idea that you could lose it. People should invest in assets like property or equipment, instead of ideas, which can be risky.

For people who want to buy real estate as an investment, I suggest buying commercial real estate with solid tenants, which means you can collect rent on a steady basis.

MP: You recommend not doing business with family and friends. Why?

ML: Investments don’t always go well but Thanksgiving always comes.

I believe understanding numbers is a roadmap to success. For business owners, not knowing the basics will hurt their ability to make projections and grow the business. Without financial know-how, they find themselves out of cash and out of business before they even realize it.