Blunt, colourful and outspoken, Kevin O’Leary has become the Don Cherry of Canadian business. The entrepreneur, author and TV fixture (Dragons’ Den in Canada, Shark Tank in the U.S.) was in town this week and sat down with The Gazette to answer a series of questions submitted by readers. Here’s an edited transcript of that conversation.
Mr. Wonderful’ — sneers, insults and all — is the undeniable star of ABC’s hit reality show. ‘Nothing-burgers’ beware. They call him Mr. Wonderful. But Kevin O’Leary was recently engaged in one of his less-than-wonderful rants, the kind familiar to anyone who loves to hate him on ABC’s “Shark Tank.”
“A generation ago, it was a safe bet to get an education, take a job in a large company, buy a house, start a family, and then retire with a pension. It was a straight route to a good life. Those days are over. The recent global financial crisis has been a wake-up call to a new generation of Americans and Canadians, who now see the risks of starting a new company as about the same as working for a large existing one.”
Shark Tank fans love to watch them negotiate. Rip apart ideas. Attack horrible presentations and shortsighted premises. Devour and feast upon brilliant new concepts. Giggle (and sometimes cringe) at Kevin O’Leary’s brutal dose of tough love from “Mr. Wonderful” himself.
But Shark Tank has achieved something quite rare: It’s given TV a Friday-night hit merging tough love and entrepreneurialism with sometimes brutal negotiations done in real time by millionaires/billionaires investing their own money in wannabe business home runs.
The show’s success is built upon a well-edited reality TV negotiation, but it’s the Sharks who make the show what it is. It’s not only their own interaction with one another as they scheme, outmaneuver or team up against each other. It’s their own brands (e.g., personalities) that are fun and highly educational to watch.
Investor and TV host Kevin O’Leary likes to tell how his investment strategy derives from his mother’s preference for safe stocks that pay dividends.
“She’d say the same thing every week when she got paid,” said O’Leary at a presentation in Victoria June 12 sponsored by Alitis Investment Counsel. “She’d say: never spend the principle – just the interest – and never buy a security that doesn‘t pay a dividend.”
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As singing competitions shed viewers, a new breed of reality show is striking it rich.
“Coming out of the recession, people like to see other people beating the system and living the American dream,” says Brent Montgomery, producer of “Pawn Stars” and ABC’s new sports memorabilia series “Ball Boys.”
No business-themed program is hotter right now than ABC’s “Shark Tank.”