‘Shark Tank’: How Kevin O’Leary Can Tell in ’30 or 40 Seconds’ if an Entrepreneur Will Be Successful

ABC’s hit reality show Shark Tank is gearing up for season 13. Business titans Barbara Corcoran, Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John, and Kevin O’Leary are returning to team up with some of today’s most promising entrepreneurs.

O’Leary, more commonly known as Mr. Wonderful, revealed he can now quickly decide just seconds into a pitch whether he’ll be making an offer or saying those dreaded two words, “I’m out.”

Kevin O'Leary on the panel of 'Shark Tank'
Kevin O’Leary on the panel of ‘Shark Tank’ | Christopher Willard via Getty Images

‘Mr. Wonderful’ invests in an ‘aura’

O’Leary has been a panelist on Shark Tank since its premiere in 2009. Now heading into his 13th season in the Tank, the millionaire investor has developed his own system on when to make an offer.

“When people first come out to the carpet, they’re right in front of me,” Mr. Wonderful told Parade in August 2021. “Over the last few years, I’ve taken to just looking at them. This may sound crazy, but I can tell after just 30 or 40 seconds: winner or loser. And I’m never wrong.”

According to the Shark Tank star, entrepreneurs that are destined to make it big tend to project a certain persona.

“There’s an aura around people that are successful,” O’Leary explained. “There’s a look in their eyes, a confidence that losers don’t have.”

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Kevin O’Leary credits the production crew for knowing a hit

O’Leary is no stranger to television. Formerly a panelist on Dragon’s Den prior to Shark Tank, and now presiding over financial conflicts on CNBC’s Money Court, the business icon has learned how to predict the success of a show.

“I’ll tell you a secret I learned years ago in making television, and I’ve done a lot of TV in my life,” O’Leary said. “The index you really want to watch is, you’ve got the entire production crew there. If the makeup people are glued to the monitors, if the lighting people are glued to the monitors, if the sound guys can’t stop watching the screen, you’ve got a hit.”

The Shark Tank investor considers the reaction from those on set as a sure sign whether or not a show will go the distance.

“They’re watching the live line feed,” O’Leary revealed. “No, it’s not the final product, but when we break and they come over and say, ‘S–t, what’s going to happen?’ They’re engaged in the story, they’re in it in the moment, and that is great television.”

‘Shark Tank’ star takes a ‘just roll with those punches’ approach on business

O’Leary has invested in numerous companies that pitched on Shark Tank over the years. He commented on the varying reports he regularly receives from his entrepreneurs.

“Each day with my portfolio, my family of companies… I get a call of euphoria,” O’Leary told Parade. “Somebody calling me saying, ‘We just had a takeout offer. They want to buy us for $100 million cash.’ And I also get a call saying, ‘This is a catastrophe, I think we’re going bankrupt.’”

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Now with 12 seasons under his belt and moving on to season 13, Mr. Wonderful just takes it all in stride.

“It’s like a human drama every day, and I’ve just learned to roll with it,” he noted. “Just roll with those punches. I try and help every way I can.”

Season 13 of Shark Tank premieres on Oct. 8, 2021, on ABC.