looking for entrepreneurs with original business concepts and exceptional drive. Participants will be competing for serious startup capital, advice and support from five deep-pocketed business owners. Winners won't get a new car or a trip to Hawaii, but they will get their dream operations off the ground with, in some cases, seven-figure investments.
The show, due late this year or sometime next, is in the hands of
reality king Mark Burnett (producer of Survivor, The Apprentice, and
The Contender), who is polishing a concept already tested successfully
in Japan, Canada and the U.K. (Dragon's Den). The fireworks, he says,
won't ignite between competing entrepreneurs. Rather, the drama will
come when the investors fight with each other to woo these would-be
business owners. And they'll be using their own money.
situation we lined up five wealthy sharks who have the money to
invest," he says. "Entrepreneurs come in one by one. There's no
elimination. There's no game there. Each entrepreneur gives their
business pitch - who they are, why they're worthy. Either the sharks
are in or out. If all five say, 'I'm out,' the entrepreneur leaves
empty handed. If more than one shark remains in, then there's blood in
the water because then these sharks go against each other."
one of pop culture's most au courant zeitgeist surfers, says the time
for an entrepreneurial reality show in America is now. The economy's
chum, layoffs are epidemic, and workaday Americans are dreaming more
than ever about an entrepreneurial life sans the corporate lifeboat.
"Having a job is risky," he says. "I bet a lot of people who had safe jobs are saying, 'I've always wanted to work for myself."
should know. An ex-military officer from the U.K., Burnett landed in
the United States in 1982 en route to a security consultancy in Latin
America. He decided to stay and ended up peddling t-shirts on the
Venice Beach boardwalk in Los Angeles. He expanded his clothing
endeavor to area swap meets before testing the Hollywood waters and
helping to pioneer reality television on primetime American airwaves.
his own time as a street-level retailer, Burnett says, "I learned,
honestly, more about people than I could have ever imagined. It's still
with me today. You have to sell and market and be responsible for the
That core spirit and survival instinct will be on display with Shark Tank,
he promises. The investor sharks are to include internet security guru
Robert Herjavec, infomercial king Kevin Harrington, real estate magnate
Barbara Corcoran, Canadian investor Kevin O'Leary and FUBU sportswear
founder Daymond John.
"The big moments are the gut checks for
the vying entrepreneurs," Burnett says. "Believe me, you'll see
occasions where significant, seven-figure deals are turned down by the
The startup hopefuls have yet to be chosen, and
Burnett is opening his casting call to Entrepreneur readers who think
they have the right stuff. The show will emphasize not only original
business plans, but personalities that have energy, enthusiasm and
stamina. "You've got to have this drive and belief and action joined
with a viable idea," Burnett says.
"It's real money," he says. "It's not show money. It's real life. It's not a game show."
Log on to ABC.com for casting information.