The show will feature 6 sharks, rather than the usual 5, in at least 2 episodes

By C. Molly Smith
September 22, 2016 at 12:00 PM EDT
ABC/Michael Desmond
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What could be more dangerous than swimming with five sharks? How about swimming with six? This year, Shark Tank, which returns to ABC with its eighth season on Friday, Sept. 23 at 9 p.m. E.T., will feature at least two episodes with six moguls fighting for investments at once.

“It mixes up the dynamic and the chemistry on the panel,” showrunner Clay Newbill says of the new season, which features regulars Barbara Corcoran, Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John, and Kevin O’Leary, as well as relative new guy Chris Sacca. “We got a lot more humor, collaboration, bidding wars, and opinions.”

He adds of how the six-shark panel, which Newbill expects the show will feature again in the future, has impacted the hopefuls: “It was a great opportunity for entrepreneurs that came in because now they didn’t have just five shots at a deal, they had six. We actually saw sometimes where if it had been our regular lineup they wouldn’t have gotten an offer, but they did manage to get an offer because there was that extra shark on the panel.”

Deals were more intense than usual with an extra shark in on the fight, but they haven’t been made left and right, despite some entrepreneurs getting offers who might not have without the adjustment. “We thought initially that there would be a lot more deals because you’ve got more opportunities, but actually it was about even,” Newbill explains. “Probably a little bit more, but it wasn’t as much as we thought there might be.”

As for the sharks, the change hasn’t altered their approach much. “The thing about the sharks is they’re always unpredictable, and it really all is determined by the business and the person that’s in front of them pitching,” Newbill says. “The sharks have gotten really good at sensing when there’s something in front of them that they want, but not only do they want it, they sense that other sharks want it as well.” 

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However they’re handling pitches, it seems there’ll be plenty worth fighting over. “During a pitch, we know we’re doing really well if [crew members] start screaming at the screen they’re watching,” Newbill says. “‘Take the deal! What are you doing?!’” Pitches will include a 16-year-old girl with an app she created after reading a story about bullying, a scientist with a product that shows where sunscreen has been applied, and three tech-smart guys with a new take on skateboards. Let the feeding frenzy begin.

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