Would you be willing to bet the farm for reality TV? If so, then Brett Wilson, formerly of CBC-TV's Dragons' Den, wants to hear from you.
Wilson's new reality series, Risky Business, announced on Wednesday, will see couples (married, unmarried, friends, family members, whatever) bet their life savings on one of two investment opportunities presented to them. Then Wilson - a wealthy investor who became famous as a Dragon - will put money into the entrepreneurial venture they reject.
"We're looking for people who are truly staking a significant portion of what they've got," Wilson said from his Calgary office. "In other words, this investment is big to them."
The investment will be tracked over 30 days. If it turns a profit, so does the investor.
Asked whether it's fair to ask people to stake their life savings for the sake of reality TV, Wilson said any potential damage would be manageable. "While it's a high risk and it's high stakes for the investors, it's not life-changing stakes - $10,000 or $20,000 investments aren't really going to change the course of history for a family."
"It would be a big hit. ... But I doubt that it would be life-changing because you could recover from it three months, six months later. ... So, yes, there is some drama around the jeopardy of whether or not people will lose. My hope is that every investment works out to some degree."
The 13-episode, 30-minute series will make its debut on Slice this fall, produced by 11 Television, a new production company based in Toronto, Los Angeles and Sydney.
The show's producers have already lined up some of the entrepreneurs whose projects may be pitched, including a 26-year-old standardbred-horse-racing expert who wants to buy a horse, race it and sell it at the end of the 30-day period. They're looking for more entrepreneurs and are now seeking investor duos.
"We only need 13 couples willing to do it, and we all know that there's reality TV out there asking people to do a lot stupider things for a lot less reward," Wilson said.
Risky Business is one of several irons Wilson has in the reality-TV fire. He said that when CBC announced his departure from the hugely successful Dragons' Den over contract disagreements, he heard "from every network within 72 hours" as well as several production companies, agents and managers.
He said he has chosen to be involved in projects that celebrate entrepreneurship or philanthropy and are also fun. "That's the goal. If it's not fun, you won't find Brett attached to it."