Larry Bass is the producer behind three of the most successful franchises to be brought to Irish television. Popstars, The Apprentice and Dragon’s Den are shows successfully localised by Larry and his team in Shinawil productions. The Apprentice alone has become TV3′s most successful locally produced show drawing 541,000 at its peak.
RTE will be broadcasting a new season of Dragon’s Den in February after a successful last series that saw the launch of one last Christmas’s most popular toys, Animatazz. The show is an amazing opportunity for eager start-ups, not just for investment, but also for publicity. A good idea, presented well over the airwaves, can help sway that most discerning species of dragon, potential customers.
With a career that has taken him from pirate radio DJ to television mogul extraordinaire we believe that anyone with an interest in television production, entrepreneurship and PR should pay close attention to what Larry advises in our interview with him.
From a public relations perspective, how helpful can an appearance on Dragon’s Den be to would-be entrepreneurs?
The Power of television can never be under estimated as all the entrepreneurs who featured on Series 1 of Dragons’ Den can testify. Small, unknown brands can generate a national profile eg. The folding stairs company, Stira, still use the phrase ‘As seen on The Late Late Show’ 20 years later!
What criteria did you use in choosing last year’s Dragons?
We wanted authentic personalities from different walks of life and different professional experience.
Have there been any changes to this year’s show that you can talk about?
No changes as we are following a very successful format.
Is there a unique flavour to the style and approach of Irish participants’ pitches compared to those on the UK show?
Yes. It is my belief that we are great story tellers as a nation and that really comes across in the pitches.
How successful have last year’s Dragon investments been?
They have all been successful in their own right but some more than others. The biggest success story would have to be the board game Animatazz. It has gone global and is one of the top selling toys this Christmas
Many of the business ideas are rejected when confronted with the Dragon’s scrupulous interrogation. Have you found that any of the rejected ideas have since become successful?
Not aware of any as yet but we do intend on following up on some of the rejected ideas in future series’.
Any interesting anecdotes you can reveal with regard to this year’s show?
It is too early in the production as we have literally just started filming, suffice to say that the real story in businesses on Dragons’ Den are the people and we have had some colourful characters!
When will the show air?
It will air in February on Thursdays at 10.15pm on RTE 1.
What were last year’s ratings for the show? And do you expect more viewers this year given its success?
Series 1 figures were above average for its time slot and we would like to think that Series 2 will grow as we saw with the success of The Apprentice Series 2.
You yourself are a highly successful businessman. What in your view makes a good businessperson?
You need determination, a thick skin and an ability to be creative in solving problems. You need a plan to set out on a business path but you can be guaranteed this will require change many times. This is when you need to focus on and end goal and be determined to get there and don’t take no for an answer!