Kevin O’Leary and Bruce Croxon Out, Wekerle and Vij In As Dragons’ Den Shakes It Up

It’s with a large disappointment in writing this when I say that notorious dream-crusher Kevin O’Leary is leaving CBC’s Dragons’ Den, along with nice guy Bruce Croxon.

CBC stated yesterday that the two Canadian businessmen will be replaced by two new investors who will be named on today.

Investment mogul Michael Wekerle and restaurant magnate Vikram Vij join as the two new dragons.

The new season begins taping in Toronto on March 24. Vij was formerly a judge on Food Network’s “Top Chef Canada” and “Chopped Canada,” as well as CBC’s “Recipe to Riches.” Wekerle made his money in tech and media companies, most recently founding the merchant banking firm Difference Capital.

Dragons’ Den is currently in its eighth season on CBC-TV. O’Leary will continue his role on CBC’s The Lang & O’Leary Exchange, according to CBC-TV.

I might venture to say that losing O’Leary (whether he chose to leave or he was asked to leave) will be a huge blow to the Dragons’ Den product in Canada. Like any person or brand that creates both positive and negative reaction, O’Leary gave people a reason to watch the show.

I loved his in-your-face personality. I thoroughly enjoyed when he would almost accuse entrepreneurs of insulting him, by way of their often overly-liberal valuations of their companies. Particularly when the pitchers tried to fight back was when O’Leary was at his best (or worst, depending on if you like him).

Having read his chest-pumping but nonetheless interesting book, it became pretty obvious to me why pitchers would spark his fury: either they avoided directly telling him how they would make money (and if they could) or they flung an outrageous valuation at him. It seemed amusing to me how little certain pitchers would consider this.

It was also fun watching O’Leary be put in his place by his fellow dragons who took him way less seriously than the rest of us. Or it was fun when O’Leary would (rarely) commend an entrepreneur for delivering a perfect pitch.

And lets not forget Bruce Croxon, the one I call the “nice guy”. Which, truthfully during the one time I’ve interviewed him, he really is a nice guy. Croxon held the unanimous honour of being the tech or “digi” guy that the rest of the cast would turn to for advice whenever tech entrepreneurs were pitching. His optimistic, “I’ll help you out” on-camera persona will certainly be missed by Canadian viewers of the show.

Sure, its television entertainment at the end of the day, but these guys are real investors giving real money to real companies, and it was fun watching them on the show.

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