‘Shark Tank’ Star Kevin O’Leary Remembers Toronto Mayor Rob Ford

After Rob Ford passed away from cancer earlier this week, many public figures paid respects to a man known as much for his controversies as his policies. Kevin O’Leary, fellow Canadian and panelist on the venture capital show Shark Tank, told The Toronto Sun that he socialized with Ford and his brothers when the mayor appeared on a now-infamous episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live. O’Leary was approached by Doug Ford who called him up when they reached Los Angeles.

O’Leary, his wife Linda, and the Fords met up after the Jimmy Kimmel Live taping. The businessman was struck by the crowd’s reaction to Rob Ford, especially in celebrity-rich Hollywood.

“It was crazy outside. Hollywood loved him. I’ve been working in Hollywood for years now and the town is blasé about stars in their midst. But not that night! A Leonardo DiCaprio sighting does not get the commotion Rob Ford garnered that evening.”

O’Leary went on to tell the Sun that despite Rob Ford’s extreme reputation, his political career held lessons for anyone entering public life. O’Leary himself has made news in recent months by toying with the idea of running for the leadership of a Canadian political party. Ford, according to O’Leary, was an example of a politician could bring the voters on his side.

“It frustrated his adversaries to no end to watch his popularity build no matter how crazy the world around him got.”

“Sure he had his demons, but that only made him more human to his constituents. I’m going to miss him. I can’t think of any Canadian politician, including the prime minister, that got more U.S. press than Rob. And it wasn’t all negative.”

Rob Ford had a two-month stay in rehab after appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live in 2014. When Ford left rehab in July, Kimmel wished the mayor luck and told his audience, “we’ll keep our fingers crossed.” After Ford’s death, Kimmel took to Twitter to express some kind sentiments.

Kevin O’Leary is what Inc. calls the “resident cynic” on Shark Tank, going by the ironic moniker “Mr. Wonderful” because of his tendency to tear apart pitches and sometimes criticize entrepreneurs for their optimistic valuations. O’Leary is the face of a new Inc. cover story on the choice between “conscious capitalism,” which has a socially responsible component, and the pursuit of profit at all costs.

As much as O’Leary may be tough on pitchers on Shark Tank, he has shown interest in some entrepreneurs whose on-air deals have fallen apart or who have left the taping without a handshake. Business Insider reported on O’Leary’s unexpected investment in Surprise Ride, the creativity kit subscription service for pre-teens, which happened during a follow up on the companion series Beyond the Tank. The proprietors behind Surprise Ride had left Shark Tank in 2012 without a deal.

There was a similar story for Plated, the meal kit subscription service that landed a handshake partnership with Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. Inc. recapped how the deal fell apart after the show. According to Cuban, the men behind Plated tried to renegotiate the terms of the deal after the show. When Beyond the Tank shot an update on Plated, it was revealed O’Leary later met up with the men behind Plated and offered them a deal that they accepted.

Former Toronto mayor Rob Ford

There will be a public memorial for Rob Ford at Toronto City Hall on Monday, March 28, between 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. The Toronto Star reported that this is the first time the city has hosted a public memorial for a former mayor, although the honor has been bestowed on two sitting mayors in the past.

Beyond the Tank is back on ABC’s Tuesday nights. New episodes air at 10 p.m. Shark Tank airs on the network on Friday nights at 9 p.m.

[Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images]