Viewers of Shark Tank know that Kevin O’Leary is “Mr. Wonderful” who might joke — or not joke — that his money speaks to him and begs him not to send it away without bringing back a solid return. That doesn’t sit well with everyone, and a new profile of O’Leary in Toronto Life revealed that a recent pitch may have hit him hard on a personal level. An entrepreneur who came into the Tank last season was wholly dismissive of O’Leary and, according to the investor, might have the wrong impression about him.
Pavlok founder Maneesh Sethi boldly told the panel he would take a deal from any one of the business moguls — except O’Leary. This was after everyone else on the panel was already out and Mark Cuban implied Sethi was a con artist. O’Leary spewed expletives at the creator of the behavior-modification shock device and told him to leave the set. As the Inquisitr reported, the experience was apparently still raw when the pitch aired, as O’Leary continued to berate the entrepreneur on Twitter. Sethi, for his part, stood by his product and his Shark Tank experience, also reported by the Inquisitr.
To hear O’Leary tell it to Toronto Life, he’s not nearly as insensitive as people might assume given his reality television persona.
“I’m always being myself on that show. I’m just like everybody else. I come from a middle-class family. I feel everybody’s pain.”
Shark Tank has a psychiatrist on-set to speak to entrepreneurs after they pitch the sharks, presumably to provide counsel if things go badly. After the Pavlok pitch, the psychiatrist had a chat with O’Leary.
Alex Kenjeev, who joined O’Leary’s company four years ago and attends all Shark Tank tapings, told Toronto Life the man with the brash on-air personality was more open-minded than he’d expected. O’Leary once told him to stop being aggressive with a company entrepreneur, instructing him to focus on building a relationship.
Recently, O’Leary has teased his entry into Canadian politics, since the country’s Conservative party is in search of a new leader following the election defeat of former Prime Minister Stephen Harper last fall. Although O’Leary has yet to officially announce, he’s wasted no time using his considerable media presence in Canada to criticize the ruling Liberal government of his home province of Ontario.
I hate when any government wastes taxpayers money. I’m shining the light of transparency & performance on them all! https://t.co/xlHcwb52i7
— Kevin O’Leary (@kevinolearytv) August 28, 2016
In an open letter to premier Kathleen Wynne published in the Toronto Sun, O’Leary provided an unverified list of what he called government waste, using the unfettered access of the opinion pages to use harsh words to criticize Wynne’s economic record.
“[Y]our government has a long history of starting projects, spending millions and then cancelling them — you know, like gas plants, ‘green’ projects and now pension plans. That’s why Ontario is $308 billion in debt, so you are kind of bankrupting us, in your own special way.”
Back in March, O’Leary wrote a similar open letter to Alberta premier Rachel Notley in The Globe and Mail, suggesting among other things that her New Democratic Party government reverse a corporate tax cut. That would, according to O’Leary, help the energy sector in the oil-rich province.
Despite the regular opinion pieces coming from O’Leary, the author of the Toronto Life profile, Jason McBride, doubts he will actually take the plunge into politics. To do so, he’d have to enter a difficult political grind for an uncertain return. McBride thinks O’Leary will use his influence in other ways.
“A far more likely scenario is that O’Leary is going to treat every leadership candidate like he treats every contestant who’s ever stood before him on TV—he’ll get them to pitch him their platform, he’ll determine which is the smartest investment, and then he’ll lend that person, for better or worse, the power of his brand and his money. Call it ‘Demagogue’s Den.’“
Shark Tank returns in the fall.
[Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images]