What’s the biggest misconception about Shark Tank?
Robert Herjavec That it’s not really our own money. I know we’re in Hollywood making a TV show, but I’m writing my own check!
Which product do you use most in real life?
Herjavec Tipsy Elves, the inappropriate, ugly Christmas sweaters. I wear them all the time. In fact, I sent my daughter to school wearing an ugly Christmas sweater, and I forgot that there were three reindeer having a ménage à trois on there!
Mark Cuban I personally have made Nuts ‘N More products part of my diet and have kept the pounds off as a result.
Daymond John Bubba’s ribs. I had, like, 100 slabs at my barbecue. We’re discussing sending millions of pounds to certain cruise lines. I believe Bubba’s has the potential to be the biggest deal I’ve ever done, not on Shark Tank but in my life.
Lori Greiner I use the Scrub Daddy every day. It is the most amazing sponge. How can you fall in love with a sponge? Easy! It doesn’t hold odors. Plus, it’s a smiley face, so what’s not to like?
Tell us about a time when a deal turned out to be a disaster.
Kevin O’Leary I had a bad feeling about Toygaroo, and I should’ve listened to my gut. I can’t remember how much we lost, maybe half a million bucks or something, but it really sucked. It was a great idea: the Netflix of toys. But the team overbought in the toys. They couldn’t deliver on time. They really pissed off a lot of moms, and that business went to zero within six months.
Not all of the TV deals are legally binding. After the show airs, the companies are vetted, and TJ Hale, who hosts the Shark Tank podcast, has estimated that two-thirds of the deals fall through after vetting. Is that accurate?
Clay Newbill, Exec Producer No, that percentage was based on a very limited sampling. The percentage of deals that have closed has steadily increased since season 1. In our most recent season, nearly two-thirds of the deals actually closed.
What are the other sharks’ weaknesses?
O’Leary Emotion. Some people say, ”You’re cruel.” No, I’m not. If you think I’m tough, wait till they work in the real world of business. They’ll be eaten alive.
Herjavec If you have a bad business and you don’t understand your numbers, Barbara [Corcoran] is going to invest in you. That woman is nuts! Mark can be a bully. Daymond can be hesitant to go outside of an area that’s got nothing to do with his expertise. Kevin is too financial-bottom-line driven. [Barbara Corcoran declined to be interviewed for this piece.]
John Robert isn’t a soft, warm, and fuzzy guy, so don’t believe the crap. Lori is very rigid. If you say anything about QVC, you know that she’s going to get a feather up her butt! Barbara is ”Let me add some celebrity influencer.” [She is] a one-trick pony. Mark thinks he knows it all, and he doesn’t.
Cuban We all have the same basic weakness: figuring out how to go out of a deal. I try to add insights when I go off. The other sharks hate that. The other sharks, with the exception of Kevin, try to offer some feel-good message. That drives me crazy.
Do you believe, as Barbara suggested, that the male sharks are hesitant to make deals on products geared toward women?
Greiner No, I do not believe that. There are just some products they don’t relate to as much as we do, so they don’t get why they might be necessary on the market. But I’ve also seen them go for a good product whether it is female-oriented or male-oriented.
O’Leary I bought Barbara a new broom this year so she could get to the set on time. [Laughs] Look, here’s her thing: She uses every angle she can get. She’ll throw that in, if it’s to her advantage, to do that men-versus-women thing. That’s a load of bunk. I have more deals with women now than I have with men.
Are the companies that get deals with the sharks contractually obligated to pay royalties to ABC and Disney and Sony on future sales? The Washington Post reported that at least one company, Pork Barrel BBQ, does.
Newbill The details of the agreements between the entrepreneurs and sharks are confidential. Both parties have the chance to go through due diligence, and the producing companies are not involved in that process.
Can you give us a preview of what’s new this season?
John We’re really nasty to each other now. We get into one of our biggest fights, Lori and I against Robert and Mark, about ”What’s a charity case?” It gets heated. Of course, Kevin’s sitting there, yelling, ”Save the money!” Kevin couldn’t care less where the morals are.
O’Leary The size of the deals — we have several multimillion-dollar deals — and the way those deals are structured are more complex, because real companies have existing products in distribution and have seen the Shark Tank effect. We beat out a venture-capital firm on a deal this year. They took our money instead of a VC’s money.
Herjavec I will tell you this: Whenever you think you’ve seen it all, the next crazy one walks in the door. And I’m not talking about one of the sharks.