ben silverman getty 'Fashion Star': A clothing store with a story line?While head of NBC, Ben Silverman frequently looked for ways to tie in brands as a way to offset a show’s production costs. He did it with “The Biggest Loser,” “Knight Rider” and “The Office” among other programs. Since his ousting from the network in 2009, that focus hasn’t changed much as evident in his new show “Fashion Star.”

The basic gist of the program is to find an up-and-coming fashion designer much in the same way as “Project Runway,” but it does so with buyers from major clothing chains Macy’s, Saks and H&M serving as judges. And the cozy business relationship furthers as apparel from surviving contestants will be immediately available at the retailers.

Silverman compares his new venture, which features supermodel Elle Macpherson as EP and host, to the ABC show “Shark Tank.

At the Television Critics Association Winter press tour, Silverman says the show is like “if [‘Shark Tank’] met an accessible show…Here we’re doing huge runway shows with amazing fashion, with music. It’s visually so much more dynamic than ‘Shark Tank’ and then you see that finished product and it’s available to wear and acquire.”

Silverman further explains the show’s business component. “Unlike other shows, you’re voting with your pocketbook and you can wear the winner…For the buyers in the stores, it’s a way to clearly drive traffic to their locations…We’ve set up an ‘R&D department’ basically for the shops.”

The show also features Nicole Richie, Jessica Simpson and John Varvatos as mentors. Each have an extensive experience in clothing design an are all veterans of reality TV.

As for the contestants, the overall winner at the end of the show’s 10-week run will receive $6 million in clothing orders from each of the three retailers.

Now the only question is, “Will viewers buy it?”

The series debuts on March 13 at 9 p.m. ET.

Posted by:David Eckstein