# What does it mean "to make the numbers work"?

Everyone is asking why. It's simple, really. We are the network's golden child in every way, except profit margins. Fact is, #Eureka is an expensive show to make. And we could not maintain the quality of our show with the cuts it would take to make us profitable for Syfy's new parent company. Our creative execs at Syfy fought hard to keep us. Trust me, they LOVE us. We just couldn't make the numbers work.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eureka_(U.S._TV_series)

How could one explain what does it mean to make the numbers work?

## 2 Answers

Numbers here is a colloquialism that refers to the profit versus expenses or loss in a business or other endeavor. The idea comes from accounting spreadsheets or budgeting charts, where each expense or income is listed on a line along with its value.

To make the numbers work means to make sure expenses are covered by income and that this is reflected to investors. It can be a euphemism for falsifying financial reports or doing illicit things to acquire money/resources.

An implication with saying "couldn't make the numbers work" is that an undertaking was liked and desirable, but money ran out.

Make the numbers work is an idiom used to describe a math problem where the answer and inputs are known, however the calculation necessary to achieve the answer is not know (the work), so there is a search for the calculation to try to make the numbers work.

For example you want to buy a new car, but you only have \$100.
Well, it's impossible because the numbers don't work.
It is not possible to buy a new car with only \$100.

A similar phrase is

get the numbers to add up
I can't get the numbers to add up
I can't make the numbers work

This should not be confused with

it doesn't add up

which means something doesn't make any sense.