The American reality entrepreneurship series, Shark Tank, is in the midst of its 12th season and its first episode aired in 2009. The core panel of “sharks” has changed over its lifespan, while introducing a vast and diverse network of guest-sharks. In its current form, the series seems to weave sharks in and out so often that only Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, and Kevin O’Leary appear in each episode.
Season 12 of Shark Tank is currently on a midway break, so here are some alternatives to hold over the fans of reality business entertainment. Some of these series take themselves more seriously than others — offering a dose of humor — but all are informative and worth the watch.
10 The Profit
Marcus Lemonis has been the CEO of Camping World, a multibillion-dollar corporation, since 2006. He began hosting The Profit in 2013. In the show, Lemonis looks for businesses in need of cash, investing in them in exchange for a percentage of the profits.
The savvy executive puts up millions of dollars of his own money and boasts an admirable win-loss record on his investments. The show’s description includes how Lemonis has turned around more than 100 companies over the last 10 years. The Profit may appeal to viewers who want a more behind-the-scenes look into business operations and other qualities of documented companies that delve deeper than just a pitch and negotiation.
9 West Texas Investor Club
West Texas Investor Club had a brief two-season run on CNBC from 2015 to 2016. On the show, Mike “Rooster” McConaughey, brother to actor Matthew McConaughey, and Wayne “Butch” Gillam invited promising entrepreneurs from across the country to West Texas for a chance at investment.
The two millionaires made various investments throughout the show’s 18-episode run. However, Gillam claimed they stopped doing the show because of the lack of follow-through on the part of his contestants, telling a CNBC reporter, “I started a business one time with two men … put them in business, bought all the machines they wanted. They ran the business into the ground, and they just walked away from debt.”
8 Billion Dollar Buyer
Hosting Billion Dollar Buyer is Tilman Fertitta, the wealthy CEO of Landry’s Inc., while he also runs other national brands in the dining and entertainment spaces. Fertitta visits small businesses in his various industries and decides whether to place a significant purchase order with them, which should lead to continued business.
Fertitta travels across the country over the course of the show, visiting several major cities, but he returns to his company’s headquarters in Houston, TX, before making his decisions on whether to buy or not. The series lasted for three seasons from 2016 until 2018.
7 Restaurant Startup
Restaurant Startup is a reality investment show running for three seasons from 2014 to 2016. Food connoisseurs and accomplished businesspeople, Joe Bastianich, Tim Love and Elizabeth Blau, made up the final panel of judge-investors on the show during season 3.
Bastianich and others try offerings from startup restaurants and decide whether to invest their time and money into growing them into major players. Although the series wasn’t renewed for a fourth season, it made for a fun, casual watch like Shark Tank while adding the extra level of appeal with the food and cooking themes.
6 Adventure Capitalists
This series is unapologetically similar to Shark Tank, but its investors concentrate on products and entrepreneurs in the camping/sports/outdoor-leisure markets. The show is lead by industry experts Jeremy Bloom, Dhani Jones and Shawn Johnson. Adventure Capitalists is another reality business show capped early by CNBC.
It appears the network tried to produce a bevy of programs similar to Shark Tank, but more nuanced to appeal to niche viewerships. Over the course of its lifespan, the judge-investors of Adventure Capitalists make several deals while destination-traveling and filming various outdoor excursions.
5 Dragon’s Den
The British reality business series Dragon’s Den was the series that Shark Tank was based on, with the former a spin-off in itself of the Japanese TV show, Tigers of Money. New seasons of the series continue to be released on BBC, and the two series have a near-identical format.
Fans on Reddit have compared the two series, with one fan writing, “I just discovered Dragon’s Den and I love it. Shark Tank might be more dramatic, but I ultimately find Dragon’s Den to be more my style. The Dragons feel more real, while the Sharks feel more like reality show contestants, interested in the performance more than the business.” Most will agree that Shounenbat510 makes a good point.
4 The Deed
The Deed is a real-estate investment series hosted by New Orleans-based real estate developer, Sidney Torres. The house-flipping mogul makes a deal with a property owner for a percentage of the profits of a home’s sale and then goes in with his crew, renovating the place until it’s fit for the market.
Torres deals in single-family homes and larger complexes, having developed hundreds of millions of dollars worth of properties over his career. The Deed has yet to be canceled after its first two seasons, however, it’s unclear how COVID will affect the reality show’s survival.
3 Million Pound Menu
Hosted by Fred Sirieix, Million Pound Menu puts aspiring restaurant owners in front of Britain’s top investors in the food industry. Contestants have three days to plead their case to potential partners, but they have to compete against other hungry-spirited entrepreneurs.
The series is basically a hybrid of Shark Tank and Chopped. It has three alluring dimensions: delicious food, tense competition and big money. Million Pound Menu was first released in 2018 and should continue for a third season based on Netflix users’ favorable responses.
2 Cleveland Hustles
In this single-season series, LeBron James attempts to reinvigorate Northeast Ohio economically by investing in local entrepreneurs. The reality business show is competitive, having eight small businesses compete for James’ financial support. Based on their leadership skills and work-ethic, four of the small business will be chosen.
James works alongside business partner Maverick Carter, while Bonin Bough contributes as the host. Cleveland Hustles may not offer the educational value or depth of other reality business shows, but it’s entertaining and should appeal to NBA fans.
1 The Big Brain
Barstool’s Big Brain consists of a panel of judge-investors in Dave Portnoy (founder of Barstool), Jon Taffer (Bar Rescue host), Mike Repole (co-founder of Vitaminwater maker Glaceau), and on occasion, Erika Nardini (CEO of Barstool) in place of Taffer.
The web-series is much more humorous and unfiltered than other Shark Tank alternatives. One downside to the series could be the relatively low number of deals made on the show. Nevertheless, if you want to watch entrepreneurs being verbally shredded apart, this is your pick.
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