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Interview: Arlene Dickinson talks Under New Management

An accomplished investor, author, television star, and prolific tweeter, Venture Communications CEO Arlene Dickinson is stepping out of the Dragons’ Den to take on a new challenge helping aspiring business owners buy a small business.

In Under New Management, premiering tonight at 8:30 p.m. on CBC and CBC Gem, Dickinson provides participants with investment options, guides the first-time entrepreneurs through the business-buying process, and ensures their potential new business owners are aware of their own strengths.

“I spend some time with the entrepreneurs at the beginning getting to know them, and as they talk you start to uncover things that reveal where their real passions are,” explains Dickinson. “One of my jobs is finding a business that they maybe aren’t thinking about, but that would be a great match for them.”

Beyond making successful business owners out of the show’s participants, Under New Management, according to its host, is about the bigger picture. Dickinson wants to inspire viewers to see business differently and look at opportunities in their own lives with a fresh perspective.

“For me, this show is all about hope and aspiration. It’s about this idea that you might be in this 9-5 that you’re not loving and but that you can do something you love,” she says.

“Because the stakes are so high on the show with people making real-life business decisions, I hope people get the courage it takes to overcome the fear and that they can see themselves thinking about business one day.”

While episode one stars NBA point guard and former Toronto Raptor Corey Joseph, who is looking for a business to support the family post-retirement, the remaining episodes feature every-day Canadians from across the country. It was important to Dickinson that the show shed a light on how different people get into business.

“There’s a wide range of people on the show and a really good mix of different family dynamics. You don’t have to be a certain age or stage or come from a certain position of power to have a dream and want to own a business. That’s what’s great about this.”

Though Dickinson has already achieved remarkable success in business, she sees the importance of giving back, especially in fostering small businesses, which she notes are the economic engine of Canada.

“I’ve been an entrepreneur a long time and I wish I had some of the help that I can now offer people. It’s my dream to be able to help people find the courage and confidence to do what’s necessary to build a business.”

With season one complete, Dickinson is well on her way to creating a new crop of successful small business owners from coast-to-coast.

Under New Management debuts Friday, March 15, on CBC and CBC Gem.

Dani Saad

Clear eyes, full hearts, can't lose. Unless you're Harry Potter in which case you'll lose... everything.