Swimming In ABC's 'Shark Tank'

January 20th, 2012 1:59pm EST

Shark Tank ABC's Shark Tank opens tonight at 8 PM ET/PT - and before you step in, get the inside dish plus meet the newest Shark, Lori Greiner!

Now in its third season, Shark Tank brings hopeful entrepreneurs face-to-face with a panel of potential investors, or "sharks," that could make their business aspirations a reality...if they can be convinced. Sometimes, it's a chance for us to watch someone's dream come true. Other times, it's painful to see them crash and burn.

I recently visited the set of Shark Tank to check the waters out for myself, and here are a few things you might not know.

1. Those are not real sharks in the background. In fact, none of the aquariums you see in the hallway are real; they're all video monitors. You didn't really expect ABC to pay for a live shark, did you? The metaphorical ones are expensive enough!

2. But the metaphorical ones have real chemistry. It's not all cutthroat in the Shark Tank. Throughout our interview session, the five Sharks in attendance bantered and bickered with one another. They obviously enjoy each other's company and have a respect for one another's accomplishments.

3. It's smaller than it appears on TV. The show is actually shot on a soundstage on the Sony Pictures Studios lot (the same studio where shows like Jeopardy!, Wheel of Fortune and NBC's The Voice have taped). The boardroom set is not quite as spacious as it looks, but it still looks a lot nicer than your living room.

4. Controlling your nerves may be the secret to your success. "People walk in there and...all of them, you can just tell, are really nervous. Sometimes it goes in a good direction, and sometimes they just lose it," said newest Shark Mark Cuban. "That's when it gets bad, or interesting, depending on how you look at it."

"If you start crying, Barbara [Corcoran] will give you money," joked Kevin O'Leary, who seriously added, "I never get emotionally involved. I'm being a disciplined investor versus an emotional investor."

"I think he's so off," disagreed Barbara. "I never focus on the money, I focus on the individual."

5. You need to have a plan. "Sometimes people come out and ask for money with no real plan for what they're going to do with it," said Robert Herjavec. "You're telling us what you need, not where the business is going to go."

6. The competition is getting tougher. Now that the show has been on the air awhile, "People coming in to pitch us are far more educated," Mark said. "And they get to know us, which makes it more challenging," added Robert.

7. It's not entirely about the money. "None of us ever have to work again. The money doesn't really matter. It's how much effort you're going to put into it," Daymond John said.

"We want to see if there's an opportunity to create jobs. Can we contribute in a way that's very positive?" Mark continued. "You can't ever do charity, because it always turns into a loss, and people end up getting hurt. It only just delays the inevitable. But when we can take a business that can't go to a bank and allow them to get back on their feet, or allow them to acclerate their growth, that's important to us."

He added that he'd like to invite President Barack Obama to come down to the Shark Tank and see what these small business owners are going through.

8. You only get one shot. "Soon as they walk past those doors, if I haven't invested in them, they're dead to me," said Robert. "It's like thinking about your sixth-grade girlfriend. What's the point? They're gone," Mark said.

9. The show is adding another new Shark. Last season, we saw Dallas Mavericks owner Cuban and comedian Jeff Foxworthy join the fold. This time, it's entrepreneur Lori Greiner, a familiar face to anyone who watches QVC. Who is she and what was it like for her to come aboard? Read on for my interview with Lori!

We saw sparks fly last season when Cuban entered the Shark Tank and took his fellow investors head-on. ABC is looking to shake up the chemistry once again as Lori Greiner makes her debut in season three (her first episode airs February 10). I sat down with Lori to find out what she brings to the Shark Tank.

You have a degree in Communications, specifically Television & Film. Did that help you at all?

I think it helps me more in writing and editing and being precise in things that I do. I'm a big believer in less is more. I think that background has helped me mostly in editing, whether it's in my business emails or talking about products.

Of course, everyone's going to speculate on why you belong in the Shark Tank, but what do you think are the reasons for your success?

I think the main thing is that I have the attitude that anything is doable, that I can make anything happen. I think that's number one, drive. And then that goes along with having a very positive mental attitude.

Was there anyone who was particularly influential in making you successful?

I would have to say my father. I admire my father and grandfather who both had that same attitude.

How did you get approached to do Shark Tank and what motivated you to say yes?

The casting director for [executive producer] Mark Burnett's office called. They felt that I was perfect for the role. I went out there and met with Mark. I admire and I like him very much, as I do everybody else I've met and worked with. He agreed with her and that was what really started rolling.

I also agreed because it's exactly what I do. I'm exactly like the entrepreneurs who come before the panel. I know exactly what they feel like, and exactly what it takes, and I have the power and knowledge and ability [to help them].

How has being on the show compared to your expectations about it?

I think [it was] a lot more fun. I don't think that I knew what to expect. I think that it was really fascinating. I did some Shark Tank firsts.

Has the experience changed your personal outlook on business at all?

No, I think it makes me more aware and present in my business to want to give back and help others. I've always had that attitude and I think it just makes me very present in the moment with that.

Is there a fellow Shark that you particularly admire or enjoy watching? One that you hate to go up against?

I enjoy them all for different reasons. A lot of them are very funny. They make me crack up. They're brilliant. They're tough negotiators, so therefore I had to be a tough negotiator. It was also fun to kind of spar with them. We're all up against each other in a way. I found that engaging and interesting.

I would say none of them intimidated me or worried me. I was fine going up against any of them. I look at person for who they are, not what they have. What matters to me is who are they, who were they as a person. I knew my background and I knew my strengths, and I knew that I knew what I was talking about. I guess I went in very confident.

What have you most enjoyed about being on the show?

I found it to be a lot of fun. Fascinating Sharks, fascinating entrepreneurs. I like the whole concept of being able to give back. Doing more of what I do.

What shows do you watch?

Right now, my latest obsession as far as shows, I love Revenge. I am really into Mad Men. I started watching that just this year. I love The Good Wife. Those would be my top three. I tend to watch a lot late at night and TiVo.

My thanks to Lori for this interview! For more about her, visit her website, Twitter or Facebook. And here's a sneak peek of her in action - as well as what else you can expect from season three of Shark Tank!

(c)2012 Brittany Frederick/Digital Airwaves. Appears at Starpulse with permission. All rights reserved. No reproduction permitted.

Related: Barack Obama, Jeff Foxworthy, Mad Men, Mark Cuban, Revenge, Shark Tank, The Good Wife, Starpulse Exclusives, Television, Reality, Interviews, Successful Celebrities, ABC

Photo Credits: ABC, Lori Greiner

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