In real time, the negotiations by entrepreneurs seeking investment cash on ABC’s business reality show “Shark Tank” — airing its fifth season finale on Friday, May 16 — take exponentially longer than what viewers see in the final cut.
“The average person,” says shark Robert Herjavec, a Canadian tech tycoon specializing in cybersecurity, to Zap2it, “is in front of us for an hour and 20 minutes. The shortest was 40 minutes; the longest was 2 1/2 hours. All of that gets cut into six minutes.”
But if you happen to be on set, it’s not unusual to see the crew, which sees lots of these exchanges, sitting with rapt attention for the entire time for many of the pitches.
Herjavec previously did the Canadian version of the show, called “Dragons’ Den,” and he has a theory why it’s caught on.
“The fact that it’s around business is almost secondary,” he says. “I think the producers have done an incredible job of making something that most people would have thought would be dry and boring and packaging it in an exciting way.”
He adds, “What ‘Shark Tank’ has done is, it’s made entrepreneurism or business a sport that people like to watch and participate in. It’s made it cool … there are a lot of people watching ‘Shark Tank’ now who’ve never started a business but are interested and may start a business one day, which is kind of cool.
“The biggest difference today is there are actually courses on entrepreneurism in school. Twenty years ago there wasn’t.”
Regarding what makes a good TV “shark,” Herjavec says, “You have to be entertaining, No. 1, and that quality is really an intangible. It’s got to come through the camera; it’s got to engage with the audience. Secondly, you’ve got to be a real businessperson. We all are. You’ve got to have run a business; you’ve got to have that real-life experience And three, you’ve got to be willing to put up a fight. We’re not a fluffy, feely, ‘Kumbaya,’ let’s-all-hold-hands-together kind of shark.”