Though many know him for his impeccable fashion sense, Clinton Kelly also has another huge passion in life: real estate.
“I could look at houses all day long,” the What Not To Wear alum tells PEOPLE, explaining how he came to star in Self-Made Mansions, a new HGTV series premiering in the new year.
As the host, Kelly, 51, travels across the country helping entrepreneurs who recently made it big find their dream homes — offering his keen eye and expertise to the new millionaires along the way.
The house shoppers are “super inspiring,” says the Emmy winner. "They had an idea and believed in themselves enough to throw all of their energy — and a lot of times all of their money — into it and just work their butts off.”
Many of the people featured on the show actually struck it rich after winning over the investors on Shark Tank, like the inventors of the Cut Buddy, Kwik Hang, Sweetroots Hair Bar and more.
“Now they get a chance to see it all pay off, which is a big deal,” Kelly says. "Most people take the job that's safe — not these people. So they're quite interesting characters.”
"For the vast majority of them, it was their first home or a big home upgrade," he explains. "I come in like Uncle Clinty and say, 'Hey, based on my life experience, here are some things you might want to consider doing when buying a house.'"
Though real estate is a passion he’s been quiet about in the past, it’s always been a part of Kelly’s life — starting with the fact that his father was a contractor by trade.
“I'd help him work on the weekends — usually he just trusted me to rip down drywall,” he recalls with a laugh. “But I grew up with the idea of renovating houses in my head all the time.” Kelly has been buying, flipping and selling homes in Connecticut, where lives, for the past 10 years.
The beautiful homes are just part of the reason Kelly thinks Self-Made Mansions will be a hit. “It’s interesting real estate, but then it's combined with people who are really inspiring, who have great stories,” he says. “I think that deep inside each of us lies that little person that’s like, ‘I have an idea that I think could make a lot of money,' but you're afraid to move forward with it. These people took risks, and maybe they will inspire you to take a risk, too.”
Self-Made Mansions premieres Friday, January 8 at 8/7 central on HGTV.
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