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Charlotte cupcake baker to appear on ‘Undercover Boss’ on Friday

A Charlotte baker expects a surge in sales this Valentine’s Day after he makes his national television debut Friday night.

Jason DiFucci, assistant manager, head baker and head decorator at Gigi’s Cupcakes in the Sharon Corners Shopping Center, will appear on an episode of “Undercover Boss,” a reality TV show in which company CEOs and presidents go undercover at their own businesses to find out how things really work.

The episode airs on CBS at 8 p.m., and DiFucci is bracing for a business upswing.

The shop usually makes about $3,000 in sales on a Saturday, he said. But after viewers catch him on the small screen, he expects the store to make $10,000 to $12,000 on Valentine’s Day this Saturday.

“There have been some slow weeks, slow months,” he said. “This is our opportunity to pick up.”

The first Gigi’s Cupcakes opened in Nashville, Tenn., in 2008. Since then, nearly 100 other franchises have opened in the U.S., including one in Charlotte, four others in North Carolina and one in Greenville, S.C.

Last May, with a camera crew rolling, DiFucci unknowingly came face-to-face with Gigi’s Cupcakes CEO Gigi Butler dressed in disguise.

The show’s producers told DiFucci he was selected to mentor one of eight female contestants for a reality TV show. “Candice” (really Butler) took direction well, he said, except when she ran over potholes while they delivered a $700 wedding cake.

He became suspicious at one point when Candice performed the signature “Gigi swirl” – a specific way employees are trained to add frosting on a cupcake – better than he did.

The show’s producer told DiFucci that Candice searched online on how to make the swirl before filming.

While undercover, Butler visited three other franchises in Houston, Atlanta and Gainesville, Fla. She noticed that each location had different procedures and some inconsistencies, according to a news release. She has since hired more staff to help with training at all the franchises.

Once filming wrapped in Charlotte, DiFucci was flown to Denver, where he thought he would report on Candice’s performance to a panel of judges, he said. Instead, in walked Butler, who unveiled her true identity.

“I froze,” DiFucci said. “I couldn’t say anything.”

Butler addressed some things the store did incorrectly, the “Gigi swirl” chief among them.

“We weren’t doing the Gigi swirl the proper way,” DiFucci said. “I was more flopping or stacking the icing on them.”

On the show, the bosses reward employees who impressed them with promotions or cash. DiFucci wouldn’t disclose any perks Butler might have given him.

“Let’s just say I still work for Gigi’s Cupcakes,” he said. “I have Gigi’s personal cell phone number. Any given time, I need any questions, I have free reign to give her a call.”