Before Robert Herjavec and Kevin O’Leary were sharks, they were dragons. In the years just prior to Shark Tank becoming a hit on American television, O’Leary and Herjavec were two of the panelists on CBC’s Dragon’s Den. Both shows follow essentially the same format, and back when O’Leary and Herjavec were part of the Dragon’s Den cast — they have both since left the program — they held the same seats as they do on Shark Tank. O’Leary is in the center and Herjavec is on the end.
But are their personalities the same? Reviewing old clips of Dragon’s Den, it’s easy to see O’Leary as the money-obsessed investor and Herjavec the kind-hearted advisor. But on Dragon’s Den, there is evidence of O’Leary being not-so-mean and Herjavec being not-so-nice.
One case in point is the pitch from “Higher Vibrations” in 2009. Clayton Hollingsworth, a crystal healer from Edmonton, Alberta, came into the Den looking for “support.” During the pitch, Herjavec is visibly hostile, so much so that one other dragon, Brett Wilson, tells him to stop talking.
O’Leary, who partakes in Hollingsworth’s demonstration of his work, is more accommodating. At one point, he says that the healer’s lack of interest in money, so opposite from O’Leary’s focus on the bottom line, was just a difference in “metrics,” and that neither one was bad.
The CBC‘s look back on the pitch, posted in 2013 on the network’s website, noted how calm Hollingsworth remained despite the dragons’ initial disinterest and jokes. Then things seem to go a different way.
“The outcome of the pitch seems to hang in the balance, but then there’s a clear turning point where the Dragons shift from unruly to pacified, and the end result is anything but predictable.”
Have a look at the “Higher Vibrations” segment on Dragon’s Den below, courtesy of the CBC.
Shark Tank viewers might notice Herjavec’s quip about the dragons doing “donations.” It is strikingly reminiscent of Herjavec’s response to Lori Greiner and Daymond John’s investment in “Scholly” on Shark Tank earlier this season. During that pitch, Herjavec, O’Leary and Mark Cuban all walked off the set after Greiner and John invested quickly in entrepreneur Christopher Gray. Herjavec implied their investment, which came without having heard the details of Gray’s business or back-end technology, was “charity.”
Of course, the comments about entrepreneurs getting “charity” from venture capitalists does not mean Herjavec does not have a heart. It also doesn’t mean he’s not in favor of businesses giving back to their communities. In a December 2014 piece on LinkedIn, Herjavec discussed his volunteer work for the Union Gospel Mission in Seattle. One of his Shark Tank investments, Tipsy Elves, gives hoodies to children in need throughout the U.S.
Shark Tank airs on ABC. Dragon’s Den, without Herjavec and O’Leary, continues to air on CBC.
[Robert Herjavec and Kevin O’Leary main images courtesy of Getty]