A show where nervous and naïve small business owners pitch their big ideas to five rather rich potential investors? We’re in.
This is one of those shows where you’ll see it’s on and go, “oh go on then, I’ll just watch ten minutes whilst the dinner’s cooking,” then end up watching the full hour and shouting at the telly like you’re watching a Manchester derby down the pub. Because to these small business owners, the stakes are just as high.
Each week we meet a handful of start-up owners, hoping to persuade the fiery and oft brutal business tycoons to invest in their ideas after delivering a perfect pitch. After listening to these hopeful entrepreneurs, the five dragons get to grill them for data, financial models and business plans, before making the call: “I’m in” or more often, “I’m out.” And it’s no wonder these candidates often appear with a sweaty brow and shaky hands – these dragons really do breathe fire.
They’ve changed over the years, with the series undergoing a refresh in 2015, ditching Duncan Bannatyne to leave Peter Jones as the only dragon remaining from the original series. He’s joined by financier Jenny Campbell, Vitabiotics CEO Tej Lalvani, fashion mogul Touker Suleyman and full-time investor (and our secret favourite) Deborah Meaden. And though their professions and expertise vary, they’re equally intimidating and united by having bags of cash to throw around. But do they?
Yep, you might have heard of a few brands that have come out of the Den – you may have bronzed yourself with the influencer favourite, Skinny Tan, and you might have dipped a chip or two in Levi Roots sauce (and if you’re a mega fan, you’ve hummed his song whilst doing so). Because a bit like The Apprentice, this show has had many a viral moment. From clueless candidates to savage sass from the dragons, each week has its own dose of drama, giving us more and more reasons to invest in this brilliant show.
Whilst the dragons have varied, the love of this show has remained, with The Telegraph’s Gerard O’Donovan saying the latest season is “business as usual,” with newest dragons “providing a much-needed gust of fresh air.”
First shown January 2005.