BUSINESS

'Dragons' Den' Could Lose Vikram Vij, Leaving Less Than Half Its Current Cast: Report

02/24/2015 08:10 EST | Updated 02/24/2015 08:10 EST
Dragons' Den

Arlene Dickinson has left her chair empty.

"The Wealthy Barber" author David Chilton has laid his verbal clippers to rest.

Restaurateur Vikram Vij is rumoured to be on his way out the door.

With possibly three out of five cast members leaving, it seems an exodus, of sorts, is taking place at CBC's "Dragons' Den" ahead of its tenth season.

The Financial Post reported last week that Vij, who runs Vancouver's popular Vij's restaurant with wife Meeru Dhalwala, could be leaving the show after a single season.

Neither Vij nor the CBC would talk to the Post about Vij's possible departure. But the paper wondered how his, and the other dragons' decisions to leave, could affect the show going forward.

It asked, for example, whether this means the program will now feature more cultural and gender diversity.

After all, Dickinson is one of only two women to sit in a dragon's chair, and Vij the only person from a visible minority group who has grilled entrepreneurs on the popular CBC program.

Dickinson told The Toronto Star it would "be cool" if two women filled the empty chairs she and Chilton are leaving behind.

Jennifer Dettman, CBC's executive producer of unscripted programming, told the Post that the makers of "Dragons' Den" want to "do a better job" of making the show "reflective of Canadians doing business in this country."

"We want full diversity: age, gender, cultural background," she said.

The departures of Dickinson and Chilton, and the possible end to Vij's tenure, would leave three empty spots for businesspeople to sit alongside remaining dragons Jim Treliving, who has been with the show for all of its seasons, and Michael Wekerle, who joined the program in season nine.

Chilton announced he'd be leaving the show after three seasons earlier this month, so that he could "focus on his deals full-time."

He did 22 deals during his time on the show and told the Financial Post that he wants to be totally involved in the ones he's made.

Dickinson also announced the end of her time on the show this month.

"I know all about dreams," she said in a statement. "The opportunity to be a dragon has made some of mine come true. But I still have some big dreams, ones I want and need to chase."

They join previous cast members Kevin O'Leary, Robert Herjavec, Bruce Croxon, W. Brett Wilson, Laurence Levin and Jennifer Wood as former cast members.

O'Leary and Herjavec have gone on to star on ABC's "Shark Tank."

Sean Wise, a business professor at Ryerson University who used to consult for "Dragons' Den," told the Star that cast members could be leaving the show because it can eat up a lot of time for entrepreneurs who also have to oversee their own ventures.

Filming schedules, he said, have been known to run from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Following up on the deals they make can also be tough on the dragons: "Each deal can add hundreds of hours to the investor's annual calendar," Wise said.

"Dragons' Den" draws over a million viewers each week and is the 30th most watched program in the country, the Star reported.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that Arlene Dickinson is the only woman to have sat in a dragon's chair. Jennifer Wood also featured on the program.

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