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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 August 2006, 21:06 GMT 22:06 UK
New Dragons enter the Den as show returns
Helen Bullough
Executive producer, Dragons' Den

Evan Davies

When dry-mouthed entrepreneurs stagger trembling into the Dragons' Den this series, they will face a mixture of some very familiar, if not kindly, multi-millionaire investors and two brand new Dragons.

All the Dragons are poised to back the right business with their own cash, if the entrepreneur or inventor can persuade them to invest.

Australian multi-millionaire Richard Farleigh and British multi-millionaires Deborah Meaden now line up alongside Peter Jones, Duncan Bannatyne and Theo Paphitis, ready to make or break the dreams of dozens of budding entrepreneurs.

But if anyone dare to think the two new Dragons might go a bit easy on them to begin with, how wrong they are.

These two will be breathing fire from the start.

Motivating and inspiring

Our first new Dragon, Ms Meaden, made her fortune in the holiday and leisure industry and has just sold a stake in one of the companies in a 30m deal.

Deborah Meaden
Deborah Meaden is ready to invest

As a Dragon she is quick to decide. She shies away from any pitch where there is a whiff of nonsense or where there is no unique selling point, or USP.

Over the next few weeks viewers will be able to see how determined Ms Meaden can be in the pursuit of securing the best deal, mounting takeover bids, pitching herself against the other Dragons - even gazumping a trio of them on one occasion

Ms Meaden says many businesses - particularly those breaking new ground or companies that are very innovative - often find it hard to raise investment.

Yet she is prepared to, even looking forward to, investing her money during the programme in what will, she hopes, be some exciting new businesses.

This is the first time Ms Meaden has been tempted into the world of television.

She describes herself as a very public person at work and a private person at home and has turned down numerous requests in the past.

But when we contacted her about appearing on the show she felt that the timing was finally right for her.

She was looking to invest in other companies anyway and what better place to find them?

Besides, she likes hanging out with other investors in motivating and inspiring environments.

Lively debates

Our second new Dragon, Monaco based multi-millionaire Mr Farleigh, is already renowned as a prolific investor in UK start-up companies, but he is always on the look-out for new opportunities too.

Richard Farleigh
Richard Farleigh expects it all to be good fun

His starting point is the individual.

Mr Farleigh says he is looking for driven individuals who are both credible and honest, though they must also have original ideas that are sufficiently different from others already in the market place.

Mr Farleigh has had some contact with the show before.

When former Dragon Rachel Elnaugh was eight months pregnant during filming on the last series, Richard was placed on stand-by in case a replacement Dragon was needed at short notice.

Now he is very glad he has got his own leather armchair in the Den, as he welcomes the challenge and the fun of it all, in particular what he expects will be several lively debates.

The new series of Dragons' Den starts on Thursday 3 August at 2000 BST (1900 GMT) on BBC 2


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