ABC’s Shark Tank would obviously not be successful without the creative and not-so-creative inventions showcased every week, but one particular shark has been lurking in the water for some time and plans to emerge to give the show some much-needed bite.
Of course we are referring to the affable yet downright cutthroat Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the NBA franchise Dallas Mavericks and chairman of AXS TV (in addition to countless other ventures). Cuban has emerged as a star on Shark Tank (season premiere tonight at 8pmET), and much of that has to do with how he engages with both the inventors and his fellow sharks.
Each shark shines in their own way, including Lori Greiner (the”Queen of QVC”), real estate mogul Barbara Corcoran, technology innovator Robert Herjavec, fashion and branding expert Daymond John, and venture capitalist Kevin O’Leary (aka “Mr. Wonderful). It is Cuban, though, who somehow manages to pull the strings on every deal, even those he ends up bowing out of.
He will break bread with a fellow shark on one deal, and then he’ll go for the jugular against that same shark 15 minutes later. Simply put, his presence is the difference between Shark Tank being a ho-hum show about wannabe inventors looking to strike it rich and the cultural phenomenon is has become.
In an exclusive interview with Channel Guide Magazine, Cuban discusses what drew him to a company that draws cat pictures, a deal that went south after an episode aired, what prevents him from putting Mr. Wonderful in a headlock, and how he is tired of seeing a fellow shark cry.
What appealed to you about the company I Want to Draw A Cat for You?
Mark Cuban: He was creative, feerless and a tech geek. That’s a unique combination. I knew if drawing cats didn’t work out, we could always pivot to something else and make it successful.
My kids (ages 9 and 7) are huge fans of the show. Why do you think “Shark Tank” is so appealing to a younger audience, and what impact can it make in the future?
Cuban: It’s amazing how many families watch the show together. We’ve been told it’s the number one show watched by families together on all of TV. As far as “why?” I think even kids have dreams of doing big things, and Shark Tank is the only show where they can see what a business is really about. And I think they also feel like they can participate in a show by guessing what their favorite products are and whether they would invest.
You teamed up last year with Kevin “Mr. Wonderful” O’Leary and Daymond John on a $750,000 deal. Can you update us on how the three of you are doing in the glamorous nasal screen industry?
Cuban: We aren’t. Turns out that before we could close the deal, the show aired and the guy got a better offer from someone else. That was a lesson learned from my first season.
What is the difference between being an entrepreneur and a wantrepreneur (a phrase I believe you coined)?
Cuban: Everyone has ideas and dreams of success. Entrepreneurs start their companies, Wantrepreneurs want to start a company but never do.
How much do you have to pay Daymond to sit between you and Mr. Wonderful?
Cuban: Mr. Wonderful pays DJ. Otherwise I would probably have him in a headlock for some of the crazy things he says.
What can we expect for the new season?
Cuban: Some amazing companies. A lot more shark fights and far more intensity. Now that we have been together so long, the sharks have started to get on each others nerves and we all come out fighting on good deals.They don’t like the way I do business and vice versa. I’m so sick of each them using the same stupid logic for passing up on deals and asking the same questions over and over. And if I hear Robert cry on the show one more time … It annoys me just thinking about it.
Mark Cuban Shark Tank photo courtesy ABC