Enter the Dragons' Den

02/08/2011 by Danny Arter
Business doesn't get tougher than this: check out books by TV's fiercest entrepreneurial gurus
Dragons’ Den is back on TV screens for a ninth series this summer. Duncan Bannatyne and James Caan’s dragon-sized duel saw the latter ousted from the five-strong panel—a decision helped, no doubt, by a helping of well-publicised baby-bartering from the British-Pakistani entrepreneur. His replacement, Hilary Devey, is the only member of the new-look panel not to have had a book published—a statistic sure to change with the strength of the lucrative ‘Den’ behind her. But what have her fellow panelists contributed to the world of the written word?
 
At a quick search Peter Jones shows up as the author of True Confessions of a London Spank Daddy (X-Cite Books), a look into the “underworld of sex, spanking and submission”. Unfortunately this is not the same Peter Jones who is an ever-present Dragons’ Den panelist, and also author of Tycoon (Hodder). “The voice of lucrative experience,” hails the Financial Times as Jones offers his opinions on the qualities a true business ‘Dragon’ requires. The book contains ten ‘Golden Rules’ for turning a twinkle in the eye into a lucrative money-spinning business. Hailed as “the ultimate guide to thinking like a millionaire—and becoming one”.
 
Duncan Bannatyne, the only other ever-present Dragon, is by far the most persistent penman on the panel. As well as Anyone Can Do It: My Story—“an autobiography and business book unlike any other,” which sold over a quarter of a million copies—Bannatyne’s titles include How to be Smart with Your Money, How to be Smart with Your Time, 43 Mistakes Businesses Make . . . And How to Avoid Them and Wake Up and Change Your Life. Presumably one of the life-changing tips in the latter title would be to invest in a gym membership at Bannatyne’s . . .
 
Theo Paphitis is best known for changing the fortunes of businesses such as Ryman and La Senza. In his cunningly titled Enter the Dragon, he provides a business masterclass on how to improve efficiency, cut costs, and booster the bottom line. He also muses on his time as chairman of Millwall Football Club. “An inspiration read for anyone in financially hard times,” claims the South Wales Argus—surely it ought to be essential recession reading, then?
 
Deborah Meaden, the tough-talking Dragon, issues straightforward, no-nonsense advice in her business bible, Common Sense Rules: What you Really Need to Know About Business. Published by Random House just last year, it is a “refreshingly sensible look at an area plagued by hype and mythology,” according to the upstanding arbiter of literary value, Management Today.
 
The Dragons have also joined forces to collectively release two business books; Dragons’ Den: Your Road to Success—which was featured in the successful Quick Reads scheme—and Dragons’ Den: Success from Pitch to Profit, the latter title also featured presenter Evan Davis as a contributor. Evan’s recent book on the state of British industry was featured in the launch issue of We Love This Book.
 
Some ex-Dragons have also done rather well from the show. James Caan released The Real Deal: My Story from Brick Lane to Dragons’ Den—“a story of learning what money is really worth”. Australian Richard Farleigh, who was Caan’s predecessor on the panel, penned Taming the Lion: 100 Secret Strategies for Investing. Surely one of the secrets of business is not to disclose your secrets, Richard?
 

Simon Woodroffe—oft-forgotten Dragon from the first series, who was replaced by Paphitis—was behind The Book of Yo!, an account of the rise of his lucrative sushi business, Yo! Sushi.  Another original Dragon, Rachel Elnaugh, is something of a serial author, though from her publications, it’s clear to see why she didn’t last long on the show. Business Nightmares: Hitting rock-bottom and Coming out on Top was followed by Business Nightmares: When Entrepreneurs Hit Crisis Point. You needn’t worry about her nocturnal visions anymore, as she co-authored the somewhat more tranquil audiobook Escape the Rat Race, in which she tells you how to “escape the daily treadmill whilst pursuing your dreams”. Would that be one of Bannatyne’s treadmills, I wonder? 

Dragons' Den is showing on Mondays on BBC Two at 9am. Picture courtesy of BBC.

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