Fresh off their 2014 Canadian Screen Award win for Best Reality Series, DRAGONS’ DEN reveals the two risk-taking Canadian business moguls joining the cast this spring.Michael Wekerle and Vikram Vij herald a new era for DRAGONS’ DEN, infusing the show with their bravado and daring entrepreneurial spirit.
“I am really pleased to be getting the opportunity to work with Michael and Vikram. We are delighted that the two new Dragons are top calibre entrepreneurs and that they are so eager to get inside the den and start making deals,” said Tracie Tighe, executive producer, DRAGONS’ DEN.
As the reigning rock star of Canadian finance, Michael Wekerle made his fortune investing in tech and media companies. Wekerle’s rapid rise to success began at the tender age of 18, where he honed his talents on the Toronto Stock Exchange trading floor before ascending the ranks to become a Bay Street pack leader. Most recently, Wekerle founded and was appointed CEO of the merchant banking firm Difference Capital, where he oversees a vast investment portfolio that runs the gamut from Virgin Gaming to Mark Wahlberg’s burger franchise, Wahlburgers. Don’t be fooled by the suit though: underneath lies a heavily tattooed single dad to six children, who loves fast cars, rock music and living a lavish lifestyle. Wekerle will bring the sexy back to the Den and use his investing acumen to discover and fund the best start-up businesses in Canada.
Restaurant magnate Vikram Vij has been dominating the West Coast food scene for more than a decade. Born in India, Vij left home at 20 to begin his culinary journey abroad. After a stint in Austria, Vij immigrated to Alberta in 1989 and in 1994 opened his first restaurant, Vij’s, in Vancouver, to critical and commercial acclaim. The strict no-reservations policy hasn’t deterred fans from lining up, with celebrities such as Martha Stewart, Harrison Ford and the late Pierre Trudeau each taking a turn in the nightly queue. Vij and his wife Meeru have opened two additional restaurants – Rangoli in 2004 and My Shanti in 2014 – as well as a gourmet food truck, and launched a line of pre-packaged curries available in grocery stores across the country. The curries have been so successful that Vij has constructed a 28-thousand–square-foot processing plant to keep up with the growing demand. His branding and entrepreneurial skills were rewarded in 2011 when he won the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year award. Vij has published two award-winning cookbooks with his wife and has also appeared as a judge on Food Network’s Top Chef Canada andChopped Canada, as well as CBC’s Recipe to Riches. Hungry for deals, Vij is eager to bring his flair for risk-taking ventures to DRAGONS’ DEN.
The announcement comes just before the start of production for the show’s ninth season, which kicks-off at the CBC Broadcast Centre in Toronto on March 24.
After dedicating a number of years to the advancement of entrepreneurship and the education of Canadians through their valuable work on CBC’s hit series DRAGONS’ DEN, Kevin O’Leary and Bruce Croxon will leave the show in pursuit of other endeavours.
“CBC and the entire DRAGONS’ DEN team is incredibly proud of the joint success Bruce and Kevin have achieved, and wish them the very best”, said Tracie Tighe, executive producer, DRAGONS’ DEN.
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The current season of DRAGONS’ DEN airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. (8:30 NT), with an encore episode on Sundays at 9 p.m. (9:30 NT) on CBC Television.