Michael Wekerle, Vikram Vij join CBC's Dragons' Den
Kevin O'Leary, Bruce Croxon leaving CBC's Dragons' Den
Finance whiz Michael Wekerle and restaurant magnate Vikram Vij will join the cast of CBC's Dragons' Den this spring.
They will replace original dragon Kevin O'Leary and internet mogul Bruce Croxon and will join the remaining dragons, marketing maven Arlene Dickinson, personal finance guru David Chilton and franchise king Jim Treliving.
Wekerle started working on the Toronto Stock Exchange Floor when he was 18 years old. Since then, the single dad of six kids has founded and was appointed CEO of a merchant banking firm that oversees Mark Wahlberg's burger franchise, Wahlburgers, among other clients.
"It's a new experience for me — I'm the rookie here. I'm looking forward to working with all the people on the show, learning from them, interacting with them. I think it'll be an interesting personality mix," Wekerle told CBC.
"I've always been a big supporter of Canadian business and I've done this for 32 years."
Vikram Vij immigrated to Alberta in 1989 and has been dominating the West Coast restaurant scene for more than a decade. He opened his first restaurant in Vancouver in 1989, which has been graced by celebrities like Martha Stewart and Harrison Ford — despite its strict no reservations policy. Since then, Vij and his wife have opened two more restaurants and launched a line of pre-packaged curries sold in grocery stores across Canada.
"I love looking at entrepreneurs that have either had family businesses or have had their own passion and they have churned this passion from a milk to butter ... Those are the kind of people I would love to share my wealth with and knowledge," Vij said.
"I'm going to be a practical Dragon. And if you want me to take my wallet out and give you some money you better make sure that you have lined your ducks in a row properly."
This won't be Vij's first time on TV. He has already been a judge on the Food Network's Top Chef Canada and Chopped Canada, as well as CBC's Recipe to Riches
Dragons' Den, which earned a Canadian Screen Award for best TV reality series earlier this month, features entrepreneurs pitching business proposals and ideas to a panel of venture capitalists, who must then decide whether or not to invest in the projects.
The lineup of investors has changed since the show, hosted by CBC broadcaster Dianne Buckner, was first broadcast in 2006.
Earlier dragons Robert Herjavec, W. Brett Wilson, and Jennifer Wood moved on after past seasons, while Laurence Lewin died in November 2008.
The most recent addition was Chilton (author of The Wealthy Barber), who joined the team in 2012.
Dragons' Den is currently in its eighth season on CBC-TV.