CBC Television personalities
Thank goodness for "Dragons' Den." The CBC production is now Canada's most watched entertainment show, averaging 1.4 million viewers per episode in its most recent season. That's a far cry from its debut to just 212,000 viewers in October 2006, featuring stalwarts Jim Treliving, Kevin O'Leary and Robert Herjavec, plus former cast members Jennifer Wood and the late Laurence Lewin. By the end of that season, the numbers were above the 350,000 mark, earning the show a renewal. Arlene Dickinson replaced Wood, and Brett Wilson filled Lewin's chair. By the fourth season, "Dragons' Den" was a certifiable hit.
Why has the show been so successful? It's a compelling concept, but so much depends on the effort of the Dragons. Taping is gruelling, taking at least a couple hundred hours over three weeks in the spring. Then, there are the publicity demands and public speaking invitations. That's tough enough for investor types Treliving, O'Leary and the newest Dragon, Bruce Croxon, and an even bigger strain on hands-on operators Dickinson and Herjavec. Their ability to cope demonstrates the value of surrounding yourself with excellent employees.
Other traits of a Dragon are rarer. You have to be independently wealthy, good on camera and have the daring to leap into more than a million living rooms every Wednesday night. The scarcity of this breed becomes fully apparent whenever a Dragon leaves the show — it can take months to find the right candidate and cajole them onto the show.
Why does any of this matter? "Dragons' Den" has opened the eyes of millions of Canadians to entrepreneurship, business risk and the startup process. Furthermore, "The Big Decision," the new spinoff show on CBC featuring Treliving and Dickinson, takes viewers inside companies at a tipping point, revealing the struggles and tensions that characterize entrepreneurial companies.
"Dragons' Den" is more than a TV show. It's a cultural force propelling Canada in its long, slow march from Resources Nation to Entrepreneurial Nation.
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