‘Shark Tank’s Kevin O’Leary: ‘I Don’t Do TV For The Money’

Kevin O’Leary has particular words of wisdom he offers to pitchers on Shark Tank. Among them: if you’re not making a profit after three years, it’s not a business — it’s a hobby. But although that may lead O’Leary to utter in the next breath that he won’t invest, it doesn’t mean he has anything against hobbies.

Back in 2010, O’Leary insisted to Canadian Business magazine that his television career, started in 2003 on business programs in Canada and followed by the venture capitalist shows Dragons’ Den and eventually Shark Tank, was just a hobby. His role as chairman of O’Leary Funds Management was by far more important. At that time, O’Leary Funds had $1 billion under management.

In a new interview, O’Leary told Report on Business that his television career is a “hobby gone berserk.” As previously reported by the Inquisitr, O’Leary left CBC television earlier this year to contract with rival Bell Media and its network of TV and radio affiliates. As O’Leary describes it, the move was simply a numbers game — not about cash, but about viewers.

“As Shark Tank grew, it became harder to shoot both it and Dragons’ Den. It was natural to choose the show with the larger audience. Shark Tank had 9.3 million U.S. viewers and was growing in Canada. [Last year, Dragons’ Den averaged about 1.4 million.] And Bell Media had acquired a range of other media assets. I don’t do TV for money; I do it to reach people. It is a hobby gone berserk.”

O’Leary said earlier this summer when his transition was announced that he wanted to bring his message of capitalism to a broader audience, including young women.

O’Leary left the CBC as the network was trying to find its place in the television landscape. Earlier this fall, the CBC made headlines as another of its important on-air personalities, Jian Ghomeshi, was embroiled in a scandal and fired. As for the CBC’s future, O’Leary told Report on Business it can find its own brand of success.

“The CBC’s mandate got contorted. It should never have been competing with the private sector. But it still has a huge mandate to tell the Canadian story, just as the BBC tells the British story worldwide. Other Kevin O’Learys will come along. CBC should hire them, too.”

He also claims his departure did not demonstrate disloyalty, as he had always worked for many networks. O’Leary claims his intent is to spread free market ideas whenever possible.

“I owe gratitude to the CBC, but my interest is to tell my story to the largest possible audience: I am a huge advocate of Canadian entrepreneurialism, I want to fight big government in Canada and I want to educate our children about capitalism.”

Shark Tank airs on Friday nights on ABC in the U.S. and CTV in Canada. Dragons’ Den, without Kevin O’Leary, airs Wednesdays on CBC.

[Kevin O’Leary Image: Google]