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September 30, 2014

Dragons' Den: Two Million Viewers Can't Be Wrong

by Annette Bourdeau, posted Nov 26th 2009 2:04AM



Who'd have thought a show about investing would attract millions of viewers each week? Ratings for 'Dragons' Den' hit the two million mark this season, which puts it right up there with 'Hockey Night in Canada'. Season 4 wraps up in December, but the Dragons aren't wasting any time launching the next round: season 5 kicks off in early January.

The show's five judges, Arlene Dickinson, Robert Herjavec, Kevin O'Leary, Jim Treliving and W. Brett Wilson, have become some of Canada's most recognized business executives. We sat down with Arlene, Brett and host Dianne Buckner to get the scoop on the goofiest pitches ever, armchair Dragons, and what's in store for season 5.


Who'd have thought a show about investing would attract millions of viewers each week? Ratings for 'Dragons' Den' hit the two million mark this season, which puts it right up there with 'Hockey Night in Canada'. Season 4 wraps up in December, but the Dragons aren't wasting any time launching the next round: season 5 kicks off in early January.

The show's five judges, Arlene Dickinson, Robert Herjavec, Kevin O'Leary, Jim Treliving and W. Brett Wilson, have become some of Canada's most recognized business executives. We sat down with Arlene, Brett and host Dianne Buckner to get the scoop on the goofiest pitches ever, armchair Dragons, and what's in store for season 5.

The show is unique in the sense that it appeals to multiple demographics. How do you explain its broad appeal?

Brett: Well, I love the fact that my dad and his friends get together and watch it, and he's 79. My ex-girlfriend and her three boys under the age of 12 get together and watch it. It just appeals to everybody. There are people who want to be Dragons, people who want to pitch deals on the show, and then there are people who just want to be armchair quarterbacks second-guessing all of us.

What are some of the goofiest pitches you've ever gotten?

Arlene: One that stands out to me is the one with the lady who was all about telling people to drive safely because she's been in so many accidents. She created these stickers that she put on steering wheels of cars to tell you to drive safely. But you had to look at the sticker while you were driving.

Dianne: [Laughing] And the picture on the sticker was a little girl crying over a tombstone!

Arlene: It was just so wrong!

Brett: For me one of the more amusing and confusing pitches was from the woman who thought that she had reinvented how to direct subway traffic.

Dianne: And she lived in a town of 1,000 people – she'd never been on a subway!

Brett: She was basically putting lines on the floor with arrows, and believing there was a system that she was able to develop.

Do you ever feel bad when you have to turn people down, especially when you think they've put in a solid effort but it's just not for you?

Arlene: Yes. Definitely. As honest as we need to be, it doesn't mean that we aren't immune to peoples' feelings and the effort that they've put in, the energy that they've exerted and the money that they've spent.

Brett: Quite often the biggest challenge for us is that they've put a valuation on a business that we like at a level that we can't understand. So as much as there's a connection, we get the business, we would invest, the valuation that they've come forward with doesn't make economic sense.

Kevin has been labelled as sort of the show's Simon Cowell. Is he always so blunt, or is he playing it up for the cameras?

Brett: Nobody's acting.

Arlene: We're not told how to act or behave. What you see is the real reaction that we have. Kevin is a very direct man.

Brett: He's really quick at the lip. I think the rest of us are more reflective.

Dianne: He was like that the day he came in to audition for season 1. He didn't need any coaching.

What's your all-time favourite pitch, either because it was promising or because it was so outrageous?

Brett: For me, one of the more memorable and enjoyable pitches was by Catherine, the woman who made the miner's metal lunchboxes. She was representing the business that her father had founded [May Metal Fabricators]. They've built over one million metal lunch boxes, the ones you can sit on and eat lunch. Catherine showed up on 'Dragons' Den' with the next generation of where this business could go. She just needed some capital so she came to us looking for support and found it in two ways – a Dragon to invest, and more importantly, national exposure on a television show with a couple million people watching. In a strange coincidence, I bought 120 of those lunchboxes before I knew her to serve meals out of at a Christmas party. I did a black-tie event where I served the whole meal in lunchboxes.

Arlene: You do not want to pay for one of his black-tie events [laughs].

What can we expect from the rest of season 4?

Arlene: Well there's a Christmas show coming up on December 9, where you're going to see everything to do with Christmas. It's pretty funny.

Brett: We might not be able to talk about the surprise celebrity judges in season 5, but we've got three of them. They're iconic names in the Canadian industry, and they come on as judges and coaches for us.

What advice would you give to someone thinking about entering the Den?

Brett: Prepare, practice, be ready. Anything could come at you. If you get rattled by a Kevinism, you're in trouble. You won't embarrass yourself if you're ready.

Dianne: Know your numbers. It's an investment show.

'Dragon's Den' season 5 premieres on Wednesday, January 6 at 8 pm on CBC.

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