Serial entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne, or Dragon Duncan, as he is now known from his presence on the hugely successful BBC2 show Dragons Den, the latest reality show with a twist.
The show is very much BBC's X factor for entrepreneurs and the first series secured viewing figures of over 3 million. It also recorded one of the channels highest ever audience appreciation figures for a new programme.
Members of the general public and those would-be entrepreneurs out there presented their ideas to Duncan and the dragons and they decided whether or not they were selected for his business know how but more importantly, his investment!
The show received a huge amount of attention with what proved to be very popular and enduring formula. So much so, the BBC have made five series of The Dragon's Den and a sixth is now in the pipeline.
There were occasions on the show when Duncan was accused of being a little Simon Cowellesque in his approach but he openly admits I am here to invest with the view of making money, I am not here to win a popularity contest.
It was Duncan's tremendous entrepreneurial instincts, commercial nous and his business success that has made him the business TV expert that he has become, there is no other, that meets the criteria better than Duncan, who is a completely self-made man in its purest form.
He grew up in Clydebank and in his early teens he joined the Navy. He left the Navy at 19 after a disagreement with a commanding officer and lived in Jersey where he gained a reputation as a bit of a party animal. It was when sitting on the beach one morning, with nothing to his name, that he boldly told his then girlfriend they were moving back to mainland Britain to start in business and become millionaires. Never have truer words been spoken !! He moved to Stockton-On-Tees with his now ex-wife and bought an ice-cream van for £450 and, at the age of 31, had his own business. Duncan's Super Ices expanded to four vans and a turnover of £300,000. He sold up and founded Quality Care Nursing Homes, floated it on the stock exchange five years later, and a further five years later sold for approximately £30 million.
Unable to find a nursery place for his children, he set up Just Learning Children's Day Nurseries Ltd, selling five years later for £22 million.
On suffering a serious leg injury which took him into a gym for the first time, not an experience which he enjoyed, he subsequently set up Bannatyne Fitness Ltd. A health club chain which has an annual turnover in excess of £40 million with more than 35 health clubs all up to the Duncan Bannatyne standard!
He purchased a derelict building close to his Head Office, which he thought was a bit of any eyesore and then went on to develop the first Bannatyne Hotel. This 60 bedroom hotel is in the centre of Darlington and is normally full to capacity with a waiting list. Bannatyne Hotels Ltd now have two more hotels in Durham and Hastings.
He had plans to build a UK casino empire and opened the first Bannatyne Casino in Newcastle on the 14th February 2005. He also established Bannatyne Housing Ltd.
It is often wondered, if he was to think back on that beach in Jersey could he ever have imagined he would have achieved all of the above, all of his personal dreams and ambitions and amassed an estimated personal fortune of over £150 million.
Duncan is one of the most successful and respected businessmen in the country. He is not only establishing himself as the 'troubleshooter' of today for businesses, business ideas and individuals, but he is also being shown by many as the light and example for the youth of today to follow find that get up and go - and go and make those millions. He was also asked to present a series of radio slots for Barclays small business advisory service.
When he is not presenting or running one of the country's most profitable and largest independently owned businesses, Duncan likes to spend his time with his family, or pursuing his hobbies and sports such as running, climbing, water skiing and scuba diving. He dedicates a great deal of his time working with charitable organisations such as UNICEF and Scottish International Relief. He also funded the Bannatyne Hospices for Children with HIV and AIDS in Romania and Colombia.