Before becoming the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump was best known for his gilded lifestyle, his business reality show “The Apprentice” and his 1980s-era Wall Street Bible, “The Art of the Deal.” But Ken Fuchs, the director of today’s hit dealmaking TV show, “Shark Tank,” says the leader of the free world wouldn’t make the cut on his program.
“He’s just not smart enough,” Fuchs told TheWrap.
ABC’s “Shark Tank” gives small entrepreneurs the opportunity to pitch products for potential funding from a rotating panel of high-powered investors, or “sharks,” including Dallas Mavericks owner and tech billionaire Mark Cuban, software kingpin and Canadian political candidate Kevin O’Leary, QVC queen Lori Greiner and fashion mogul Daymond John. The sharks listen to pitches, ask pointed questions — particularly O’Leary — and, when they are intrigued by a presentation, offer investment terms which they then negotiate with the entrepreneurs, and sometimes against each other.
And while Trump often talks about his skill as a negotiator, Fuchs isn’t the first “Shark Tank” staffer who doesn’t think Trump could hack it as a shark. Cuban said the same last year, when he told Extra’s Renee Bargh the then-presidential candidate would fail so fast “it would make your head spin.”
“Shark Tank’s” popularity has helped make financial jargon part of the everyday vernacular. Fuchs volunteers for a class at his son’s high school where they do a “Shark Tank” symposium, and he’s impressed by how comfortable students are with the terminology.
“These kids know all the language,” Fuchs said. “Convertible debt, they know about royalties.”
In fact, Fuchs said the show’s broad appeal came as a surprise to him when he first started working on “Shark Tank.”
“I thought it would be sort of a brainiac, you have to be really smart and nerdy kind of thing,” he said. “But it appeals to people on a lot of levels. My 90-year-old dad watches with my teenage son.”
Fuchs, who also directs ABC’s “The Bachelor” franchise and syndicated game show “Family Feud,” said the show’s sharks have no idea about the products and investors they meet in the show’s simulated boardroom for the first time, and their aggressive negotiations against each other are real.
“They’re really competitive,” Fuchs said. “They don’t like losing. They get a little joy in screwing each other over. But they also get along fine off the set.”
And Fuchs said there’s not a lot of Hollywood magic in turning what’s essentially a series of pitch meetings to investors into a prime-time network hit, one that was just picked up for a ninth season with a new shark joining the crew, former “Real Housewives of New York” star Bethenny Frankel.
“We’re not overly focused on making good TV,” Fuchs said. “It happens naturally. They’re inquisitive people, they’re bright, they’re competitive — and the format is perfect.”