Dragons’ Den newcomer Steven Bartlett on ‘genuine’ rows with Touker Suleyman
Things are firing up on Dragons’ Den, as tonight, viewers will watch as entrepreneur Steven Bartlett takes his seat on set for the first time.
Last year, it was revealed that Tej Lalvani was stepping down from his role on the BBC One programme after four years, with Steven chosen to take his place alongside Touker Suleyman, Sara Davies, Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones.
At 28 years old, he is the youngest person ever to become a Dragon, having co-founded a social media marketing agency called The Social Chain in his early twenties, which is now valued at more than £300million.
Despite the increased attention being placed on the businessman due to his age, while speaking to Metro.co.uk, he admitted that he personally doesn’t ‘really pay attention’ to how old he is.
‘To me, I felt deserving of being there on my own merit and I felt like I knew what I would be bringing to the show in terms of a new perspective, being able to speak more relevantly to my generation, and to people that come from the industry that I come from, which is social media,’ said Steven, who has interviewed stars including Molly-Mae Hague, Rio Ferdinand, Jimmy Carr and Liam Payne on his chart-topping podcast The Diary Of A CEO.
‘I didn’t feel that my age was an issue. I felt like I bring something fresh and all of the Dragons with their wisdom and their unique experiences bring their own thing. I think that’s what makes Dragons’ Den this year particularly special – there’s such a diverse group of people sat there, so Deborah knows things I will probably never know, and Peter knows things I will probably never know.’
Having watched Dragons’ Den for years, Steven described it as a ‘tremendous honour’ to become a part of the series.
He revealed that he already aspired to join the show before he was asked, having emailed his team saying that he wanted to become a Dragon six months prior to being contacted by the BBC.
Now it was one thing Steven getting to grips with entering the Den for the first time, and another seeing how the other Dragons would acclimatise to their new neighbour. So what has the competitiveness been like between the four returning investors and their new peer?
‘I think me and Touker, we had several heated moments, where he would shout at me and I’d shout back,’ Steven recalled.
‘He’d shout at me, “What do you know about business?” And then I’d shout back at him. But it’s remarkable, because we have those moments on set – and those moments on set are genuine, we are arguing. But then we walk off, he’ll tell me about something that’s going on in his life and we’ll chat.’
Emphasising that in his life, he always tries to be himself, he added: ‘It’s like we leave that stuff on the set, and what you see on the set is very genuine, particularly with me. I’m not going to act. So if something irks me, I’m going to say it, and who gives a f**k? If I think something, if I think Peter’s being a vampire, I’m going to tell Peter he’s a vampire. It is what it is.’
He explained that while the Dragons ‘get on so well in the green room’, when it comes to actually investing their own money into businesses, their competitive streaks emerge.
‘I love competition and I love winning so I love that part of it. We’ll fight on the show, we’ll go head to head,’ he said. ‘It is competitive, it is fiery and it’s not just a competition of the entrepreneur pitching to the Dragon, it’s the Dragons against each other, and that’s what I think makes it so interesting.’
While the Dragons fight with every fibre of their being to win the investments that have caught their eye, Steven outlined that from the start of his experience, the others have been extremely supportive of his endeavours.
Having gone for dinner with some of the other stars before he began filming, he said that they were all ‘really willing to help me in any way they could’, adding: ‘I got this really clear impression that they all just wanted the best for me.’
‘They all told me in the lead-up to the show, like when we went for dinner or after we had a day’s filming, Peter told me this in particular: we are a team of Dragons. In the Den obviously we’re competitive because we’re trying to win businesses, but the five of us are a team, and we’re a team in the sense that we represent each other by being a Dragon but we also want the best for each other as Dragons,’ he said.
Steven singled out Peter in particular, saying that as they sat next to each other, they spoke at length.
‘He really, genuinely wanted the best for me, he wanted me to do really well on the show and he knows if I do well on the show it’s going to make the show better, which helps all the Dragons and it also helps the show that he’s filmed since it began, and I really genuinely felt that,’ he stated.
‘I really felt that the Dragons just wanted me to be successful so it couldn’t have been better. One day if I’m on the show and someone else joins, I will continue in that spirit doing everything I can to help them be successful.’
Steven becoming a Dragon is a full-circle moment for him, having applied to be on the show a decade ago with his first business Wallpark, which he acknowledged ‘probably wasn’t a good idea’ , having ‘heard nothing’ in response.
While it sounded like a no-brainer decision for him to join Dragons’ Den, he revealed that he was actually in the process of launching his own TV show on a different channel when the opportunity came up, meaning that he had to choose between the two.
‘I was so far down the process of launching my own show that it meant that I had to kind of sacrifice the other show and choose Dragons’ Den,’ he said.
‘I actually said to my five best friends, “Listen, we’re all going to get one vote, either this show or Dragons’ Den.” And all my friends unanimously voted for Dragons’ Den.’
As for whether he’ll ever return to his own series or star on any other TV shows, the entrepreneur admitted that he probably wouldn’t – although he is interested in exploring a venture on Netflix in future.
‘When you do TV anything, you get quite a lot of opportunities to do more TV, so you get lots of opportunities to be on Dancing On Ice, Strictly Come Dancing… I just don’t have an interest in any of that,’ he said.
‘I’ll be honest – I don’t particularly want to be a TV personality. I’m an entrepreneur, I’m a businessman, that’s what I do, that’s where I get my fun – building businesses, creating things that don’t exist and putting them into the world. I like building things, and Dragons’ Den fortunately is the closest show that I can find that is aligned to that innate passion of mine.’
While Steven likely has future seasons of Dragons’ Den to look forward to, saying that he has the filming dates for next year’s series, he also has a tour coming up, taking his podcast to the stage in The Diary of a CEO Live.
With dates this year in locations including London, Glasgow and Birmingham, the show will combine music with visuals and spoken word for an immersive experience that he hopes is ‘powerful’ for all who attend.
Dragons’ Den returns tonight at 8pm on BBC One.
Got a story?
If you’ve got a celebrity story, video or pictures get in touch with the Metro.co.uk entertainment team by emailing us [email protected], calling 020 3615 2145 or by visiting our Submit Stuff page – we’d love to hear from you.
Source: Read Full Article