As Sarah Willingham and Nick Jenkins prepare to say “I’m out” to ambitious entrepreneurs for the very last time, producers will be on the hunt for two more Dragons to take their spots in the Den.
The investors will step down after the final episode of this series on Sunday 26th February.
It is thought that Touker Suleyman, who joined the show with them in 2015, will be staying, alongside Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones. But who should join them?
Let us pitch you seven ideas…
1. James Dyson
Persuading this British inventor to take a seat in the Den would be an absolute coup for the Dragons’ Den producers, because his advice to entrepreneurs would be far from hot air. He’s the man who created the cyclonic vacuum cleaner, and he’s also behind innovative redesigns of the hand dryer, the desk fan and the hair dryer.
Beyond re-inventing the world of cleaning, drying, and cooling, he also has a bag of money to spend: the Sunday Times Rich List 2016 put his net worth at £5 billion.
2. Jo Malone
You know, the one whose name is on all the perfumes and scented candles and stylish shopping bags? Hers is a true rags to riches story, so she knows what it takes to go from making candles on your kitchen stove to running a business empire.
Having sold the company that bears her name to Estée Lauder for “undisclosed millions”, she soon realised she wasn’t ready to put her nose to rest, founding luxury fragrance brand Jo Loves instead.
3. Arnold Schwarzenegger
The former bodybuilder and governor of California has recently taken Donald Trump’s old role on America’s Celebrity Apprentice. But as he and the new President exchange barbs on Twitter (“Wow, the ratings are in and Arnold Schwarzenegger got ‘swamped’ or destroyed by comparison to the ratings machine, DJT”), maybe he should swap the boardroom for the Den. It may contain Dragons, but at least he’d get away from Trump.
4. Denise Coates
Here’s someone who might take a gamble on a budding entrepreneur, because gambling is how she made her name. Having worked her way up the family bookmaking firm Provincial Racing, Denise took over the chain of shops, turned around their fortunes, acquired another chain, and then looked around to see what else she could do.
Next up? Launch an online betting site, Bet365.com, in 2000 – a time when she was really at the cutting edge. Her dad Peter Coates is Chairman, so it’s a real family affair, and the Coates also own Stoke City Football Club. Denise is a very sharp businesswoman who has taken some well-judged risks: what are the odds of persuading her in to the Den?
5. Richard Branson
Now, we all know Richard Branson likes to be on the telly. He’s had cameos in Friends, The Simpsons, Casino Royale, Superman Returns and even Baywatch, not to mention the time he made his own show, Rebel Billionaire: Branson’s Quest for the Best. The other thing we know about this potential Dragon is that he’s a billionaire business magnate.
The only problem would be tempting him back to rainy Britain from his Caribbean island of Necker, where he likes to hang out and entertain celebrity guests including the Obamas.
6. Michelle Mone
The Ultimo Bra boss is a Dragons’ Den tease. There has been speculation for years about whether she would join the show, but she revealed back in February 2014 that she had been asked to do the series five times – and had repeatedly said no because she was too busy.
However, when a spot opened up on the panel two years ago, she told the Telegraph that she did finally have a gap in her schedule if producers wanted to give her a call – as long as they could get over their apparent reluctance to have three women on the panel.
7. Duncan Bannatyne
When this former Dragon stepped down two years ago, he said his time was “too precious” to spend in the Den when his heart wasn’t in it. But he did find time to compete in I’m A Celebrity, so perhaps he’s bored already? We can only hope.
Dragons’ Den returns on Sunday 5th February at 8pm on BBC2