Dragons Dens Steven Bartlett opens up on ‘emotional’ first day on show: ‘So competitive’

Steven Bartlett says his time in the Den was 'emotional'

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Dragons’ Den icon Deborah Meaden and newcomer Steven Bartlett joined The One Show hosts Alex Jones and Jermaine Jenas on Tuesday to talk about the new series of the BBC reality show. Steven was recently announced as the newest and youngest-ever member of the team. Speaking to Alex and Jermaine about his first day on the show, he described it as “emotional” and revealed what happens in scenes the viewers don’t get to see.

After watching a trailer for the newest series, Alex exclaimed: “Oooh, lots of tension there! It’s the return of Dragons’ Den!

“Steven Bartlett, the youngest Dragon ever to get into the den! Was it what you imagined?”

Steven explained: “I’d say it was because I assumed that Dragons’ Den was real, and this is always a question you have when you’re watching at home.

“Is that real? Are they investing their money? Do they have to decide then and there? Are these real entrepreneurs? Or do I meet them in the green room or something?

“But everything you see on that show is 100 per cent real, so it’s my money, these are real entrepreneurs, but what you don’t see is what I felt from being in the room, it was emotional.

“And I tell you what, I didn’t expect it to be that competitive! When an entrepreneur walks from the door, and you want the business, there’s this weird thing that happens in the den.

“We all kind of fall quiet because we don’t know who’s going to go first, and then you feel it.

“I’m trying to look at Deborah’s diary to see what she’s written down to see if she’s going to make an offer.

“And I know they’re going to go so someone will break, like ranks, and make an offer, and then it becomes like chess,” he described.

Welcoming Deborah to the show, Jermaine asked why she keeps on returning, to which she revealed: “It’s such a great show, I mean it’s what I do, it’s what I love.

“I retired for about two days and then thought, ‘Do you know what, I miss business’.

“It’s creative, it’s fun, it’s challenging, so to be able to do that on television and hopefully get a message out to the world to say actually business isn’t this boring old thing that sits in a corner over.

“It’s really vibrant, and it’s a real opportunity for people that’s why I do it I love it.”

When asked about her first impressions of Steven, Deborah teased: “I’ve got to say from the word go… Oh, don’t make me be nice to him in front of him!”

Deborah then praised her co-star: “He was brilliant, listen it’s a hot place, when you first start in the den, your joining people that have kind of got their relationship, and he absolutely owned that chair from the minute he started.

“He didn’t back off, it’s quite challenging there and particularly when you’re new and he absolutely held his own.

“He made great judgements, made some fantastic investments, I think he is an absolutely cracking edition to Dragons’ Den.”

Steven is the founder and former CEO of social media marketing agency The Social Chair, which he set up from his bedroom in Manchester.

He dropped out of university after just one lecture and built the group’s two flagship companies, Social Chain and Media Chain, when he was just 22-years-old before taking his company public at 27.

Steven revealed to Alex and Jermaine that he had been watching the show since he was 12-years-old and how his turbulent background was a driving force for his ambition.

“It speaks to me joining Dragons’ Den because I grew up at 12-years-old watching Dragons’ Den and in all honesty not seeing someone like me, a kid from not a great background.

“I got kicked out of school, didn’t go to university, (I) was black and was young, I couldn’t see myself on the show, so I think role models are most effective when they’re relatable.”

The new series of Dragons Den beings January 6, 2022, at 8pm on BBC One.

The One Show airs weekdays from 7pm on BBC One. 

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