Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New 'Dragons' Michael Wekerle and Vikram Vij Enter the Den in CBC Hit Series

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New 'Dragons' Michael Wekerle and Vikram Vij Enter the Den in CBC Hit Series

Article excerpt

New 'Dragons' Wekerle and Vij enter the den

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TORONTO - Brace yourselves, Canadian entrepreneurs: two new dragons are entering the den.

Bay Street financier Michael Wekerle, billed as "Mick Jagger meets Warren Buffet," and Vancouver restaurateur Vikram Vij are the newest additions to CBC's "Dragons' Den."

Returning for a ninth season Wednesday, the newbies join Jim Treliving, Arlene Dickinson and David Chilton to judge Canadians' business ideas and dole out cash to those deemed worthy.

Wekerle has a reputation for being a rock star in bankers' clothing, known equally for his wild lifestyle as his business acumen. But he said in a summer interview that he brings a sense of "humanity" to the show.

"I believe in certain core values and I'm glad to say that all the 'Dragons' ... I find, are very, very strong and ethical people," he said. "Respect, loyalty, generosity, honesty, reciprocity and the best word, empathy, those are the words that I live my life by."

He said he proved his talents on the Toronto Stock Exchange trading room floor at age 18. He went on to make fortunes investing in media and tech companies, including BlackBerry maker Research In Motion. Dubbed "The Oracle of Bay Street" by Toronto Life magazine, Wekerle now oversees a vast investment portfolio and most recently founded the merchant banking firm Difference Capital.

Chilton said that Wekerle brought a sense of "unpredictability" to the show -- in a positive way. He said he looked at deals from a perspective that the other Dragons hadn't seen before.

"We all have a lot of experience in deals, but obviously he has the most. You've probably got the most in the country, in some ways. So I thought there was imagination there and creativity in some of the deal structures that was neat to see. I bet some people at home are going to say, 'Wow, never seen that in the previous eight years,'" he said.

"Plus he showed up every day," Chilton joked. "That was a little bit worrisome to all of us."

Vij, meanwhile, is well-known in Vancouver for his popular Indian fusion restaurants and cookbooks. Born in India, he left home at age 20 to pursue his culinary dreams, eventually opening his first restaurant Vij's in 1994. …

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