By its fourth season in 2012, “Shark Tank” had become a pop culture sensation. With a viewership between six and seven million, producers ramped up the episode count from 15 to 26, and then to 29 the next season.
Because the investors each have multiple companies to run and even more to consult with, the shooting schedule needs to be as efficient as possible, which means a lot of action crammed into a short period.
Investor Robert Herjavec told Business Insider that this past season, the seventh, took 17 days to shoot, split over two stretches, one in early summer and the other in early fall. The Sharks were required to be on set for around 12 hours each day, and see about eight pitches, each averaging an hour in length.
In post production, editors create 43-minute-long episodes with several pitches cut into roughly 10-minute segments. About 80% of the pitches the Sharks see make it into the final product.
Guest Sharks like Ashton Kutcher, who spend just one day on set, can ride a wave of nervous energy, but for cast members like Herjavec, it gets exhausting. “We’re cold, we’re hungry, we’re miserable,” he said.
Barbara Corcoran told us that she and Lori Greiner, as the two female Sharks, have the additional burdens of having to wear high heels and keep their legs crossed — Corcoran said viewers of the show should keep an eye out for times when she squeezes her leg, which she does to keep it from falling asleep, because it means she’s ready to seal a deal with an entrepreneur and jump up to hug them.
The physical discomfort of the process is why the Sharks are always looking for an entrepreneur to grab their interest within the pitch’s first couple of minutes. If they start thinking about whether they want to let go of tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars of their own money, adrenaline kicks in.
“Knowing you can lose a hell of a lot of money fast keeps you focused,” Corcoran said. She considers “Shark Tank” shoots to be “by far” the hardest work she’s done in her career, which included turning $US1,000 into the Corcoran Group, one of New York’s premiere real estate firms.
Corcoran said the challenge of a “Shark Tank” shoot is that she and the Sharks need to constantly be conscious of how they look on camera, how to compete with each other to get what they want, whether they want to make a deal with the entrepreneurs in front of them, and then how to structure that possible deal without making a costly mistake.
Once the investors arrive on set in the morning, “You don’t have time for anything else,” she said. “So it’s not like I can tend to my other stuff when I get there. Once you’re in that seat, it’s like you’re in a war zone … You can’t come up for air.”
It’s why tempers flare in the Tank at times. Sure, investors angrily yelling at each other makes for great television, but all the Sharks insist it’s not staged. Rather, they say, it’s the natural byproduct of on-edge people dealing with substantial amounts of money. The investors have spent so much time with each other at this point that their relationships are familial, whether that’s expressed in fun or in frustration.
“It’s all in the moment,” Daymond John told us. “And in the moment, it does get personal here and there. None of it is for the camera. Listen, I don’t care if you’re my brother — if we go play football I’m gonna try to crack your head open. It doesn’t mean that I don’t love you. It doesn’t mean that I don’t respect you. But I’m going to try to crack your head open!”
NOW WATCH: Ideas videos
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.