By Nakisha Williams
September 28, 2012 at 06:03 PM EDT

Good Morning America lifestyle anchor Lara Spencer is bringing her passion for bargain hunting to Flea Market Flip, debuting tonight on HGTV. Spencer says the show — which she created, hosts and executive produces — is part treasure-seeking adventure, part DIY project, with a dash of game show-style competition.

Each week, teams are challenged to transform flea market finds and other cast-offs into one-of-a-kind pieces that they, hopefully, can flip for a profit. Contestants are given $500 and one hour to shop for three promising flea market finds. “They have one full day to transform their items, then they have to turn around and sell them,” explains Spencer, who came up with the idea while she was hosting Antiques Roadshow. “[The team] that makes the bigger profit wins.”  The winning duo takes home $5, 000. 

“I just felt like there was nowhere else to really see all the steps that really go on from the hunt to the transformation and then actually flipping an item and seeing how much it’s worth in the marketplace,” says Spencer. “A lot of the shows today stop at the point where they tell you what it would be worth but you never actually see it traded.  So this is a way for it to go the gamut.”

Among the successful flips audiences will see this season is how one team uses a 1950’s bicycle and an old utility cart — purchased for a total of $25 — to create a bar table that sells for over $1,000. “They pulled the pieces apart and created this amazing rolling bar table,” Spencer says. “You could see it in front of a Ralph Lauren store, it was so chic and fabulous!” Unfortunately, not every team will strike resale gold, but Spencer hopes every project will inspire viewers to look for new ways to restore both flea market finds and items they already have in their homes.

The host’s own first great find? A pair of Picasso lithographs in decayed frames she spotted at a Salvation Army and scooped up for $35 before restoring them and discovering they were valued at $5,000. “They were the first real piece that truly made me believe you can find that hidden treasure,” says Spencer, who shares her advice — much of which she says she learned from her mother — in the book I Brake For Yard Sales. “I realized you don’t need a lot of money to have great style and a I dare say even if you do have money at your disposal it’s more gratifying to find pieces that have terrific potential and realize them with your own eye.”

Spencer’s top 4 tips for navigating flea markets, yard sales, thrift stores:

1. “The early bird gets the worm. There are dealers who go before the sun’s even up and are hunting through boxes and the tables with flashlights.”

2. “Bring cash. Nothing kills a negotiation more than asking if you can write a check.”

3. “Don’t judge a book by its cover. Make sure you take a second to look past the fabric or the finish, try to see past that and imagine what piece could look like if you recovered it or refinished it. You have to see the bones, you want to look for good ‘bones.'”

4. “You don’t have to be Martha Stewart to do this, you need steel wool, glossy spray paint, a staple gun, fabric and to roll your sleeves up and give it a try.”

Flea Market Flip premieres tonight at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HGTV.

Follow Nakisha on Twitter: @Nakisha.

Read more:

Sofia Vergara wears clothes from her Kmart line on ‘Modern Family’

‘Fifty Shades’ of fierce: Katie Couric’s S&M style

‘America’s Next Top Model’: Tyler Perry and the Zombie apocalypse