Arlene Dickinson helps Canadians invest in small businesses in CBC’s Under New Management

I’m a fan of Arlene Dickinson. Amid what seems like a cacophony of negativity on Twitter, she stands out with her positive vibes every morning. The outlook carries over to her latest television project as well.

Under New Management, bowing Friday at 8:30 p.m. on CBC, catches up with the venture capitalist and Dragons’ Den investor as she aids aspiring business buyers in their quest to find a great investment. In Friday’s debut, that’s NBA veteran Cory Joseph and his sister, Danielle. The pair are looking to buy a restaurant—he recognizes he won’t be on the court forever and wants to build a nest egg—but finding just the right place is difficult. That’s where Dickinson shines, not just with her advice but a property twist that throws the siblings for a loop.

We spoke to Arlene Dickinson late last year about Under New Management.

Under New Management is the way that I want to see Dragons’ Den go sometimes, to follow after the deal’s been done. I know it’s not like Dragons’ Den in that way, but I do like seeing you working on these deals. How did the idea come about? Was it an idea that was pitched to you?
Arlene Dickinson: It was an idea that was pitched to me, and it was pitched to me by a producer that I knew. He and I started talking about this. He said, ‘I really thought of you when I wrote this concept.’ He talked to me about it. I thought, ‘Man! This is just something I really relate to.’ And I loved the idea of it, which is understanding what people’s dreams are and then helping them realize it.

Was it you or the producers that decided the projects and the people that you were going to meet?
AD: People submitted their names and there were a lot of online applications. We went out and did a casting call and asked people if they were looking for businesses. I believe Corey and Danielle were found through somebody who knew about the show. They knew that Corey and Danielle were looking for a business and then suggested they apply, so they did.

Corey is so smart recognizing that he’s been in the NBA for a certain number of years and knows that at any time in sports anything can happen. An injury can take you out and he’s planning for the future.
AD: I think that a lot of athletes and people who count on their physicality in order to make a living can find themselves injured or their careers are very limited in terms of how long. Very few play past 40 unless they’re in golf. I know a lot of athletes, pro athletes who have no idea what they’re going to do. They hadn’t thought of the future.

It was really interesting to see them going through the process, going to the small restaurant, going to the large restaurant. It’s one thing for Danielle to say, ‘Oh, I really like this and I’m passionate about it,’ but it’s quite another to envision her running a small restaurant or a large restaurant. Restaurants go under all the time because people don’t have that business savvy.
AD: I’m glad that you picked up on that because I think that’s the nuance of the show, which is you really have to start to understand that these people that are on the show are going through a real journey. They’re going from, ‘I can’t wait to do this,’ to the reality of ‘Oh, I never thought about doing that every day. That’s what it means to own a restaurant or that’s what you have to do.’ I feel like they go on this amazing journey of highs and lows. Then they come out the other side with something that maybe not expect it. In their case, we showed them something that they didn’t expect.

When people tune in to watch these episodes, what do you want them to get out of it? Obviously, there’s the entertainment value but is there something you want them to learn and to consider in their own lives?
AD: I think at the heart of the show is this notion of hope and aspiration that we all have aspirations. We all want to do something interesting and meaningful in our lives. Many people in today’s world are thinking, ‘Well maybe I should start my own business. Maybe I should go and think about this differently.’ I want people to understand that the answer might not be obvious to you right now. Often, I get asked, ‘What should I do? I want to run a business but I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what I like.’

I say, pick something. Go through a process and make something. Just start. Just start. You can evolve into other businesses. You don’t have to get stuck with something. If you make a smart choice, you learn from it and you can go on and find exactly what it is you’re passionate about. I hope people feel inspired to go and try something they’ll love.

Under New Management airs Fridays at 8:30 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem.

Image courtesy of CBC.