Power Players

Mark Cuban: This is what it's like behind the scenes at 'Shark Tank'

"Shark Tank," on ABC. Sharks include Barbara Corcoran, Mark Cuban, Kevin O'Leary, Robert Herjavec, Lori Greiner.
Eric McCandless | Walt Disney Television | Getty Images

As reality shows go, ABC's "Shark Tank" is indeed real, says investor Mark Cuban.

"It's our money, it's all real," Cuban tells Yahoo Finance editor-in-chief, Andy Serwer in an interview published Thursday. The Sharks put down their own money and the entrepreneurs are pitching their real businesses.

But there is more to the show than what the audience sees on TV each week, says Cuban.

Shooting for season 11 starts in mid-June, and on days he's filming, Cuban arrives at the Sony Studios set in Los Angeles at 8:30 a.m. He gets "a little bit of makeup" and puts on his suit, he says.

Then the cameras starting rolling at 9 a.m.

"They just bring in deal after deal after deal. We know nothing about them," Cuban says. "They'll say, this is Joe and Sally, and this is the name of their business. And they'll walk in and give their pitch."

The difference between what happens in the studio and what viewers see on TV is the length of the pitch. "Now on television, it might take 10 to 14 minutes. In real life, if it's a stupid deal, it might take 20 minutes before we're all out," Cuban says. "And then if it's an intense deal, it can go 90 minutes, two hours."

Further, not all of the 250 to 300 pitches the Sharks see each season end up making it on air.

"Probably 25% of people who pitch us ... don't even make it on air for a variety of reasons," Cuban says.

Also, when a deal is made on television, it may or may not actually go through. The investors have the right of refusal if they find the pitch they heard during shooting misrepresented anything.

"If we decide to do a deal, then we have the opportunity to do due diligence after the fact, because sometimes they'll embellish — is the polite way to put it," Cuban says. "You know, my widget cost $1 to make and we sold a million of them, when, in reality, the widget cost $10 and they've sold six."

And that happens "more often than you think," Cuban says — "about 60%" of his deals with entrepreneurs end up closing, Cuban says.

In his years as a Shark, Cuban has invested in "100-plus companies," he tells Serwer. He has sold "a bunch" he says, and says he has 70 that are "active," or currently operating.

His bets aren't always winners. "It follows a normal distribution — 10 are struggling, 50 are doing great, and 10 are doing incredible," Cuban says.

See also:

Billionaire 'Shark Tank' star Mark Cuban: This is how to know if a business will be successful

Billionaire Mark Cuban: One of the 'most patriotic' things you can do is get 'obnoxiously rich'

Mark Cuban, Scott Galloway, Mike Rowe all agree 'following your passion' is totally bogus advice

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Mark Cuban: AI will produce the world’s first trillionaires

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Disclosure: CNBC owns the exclusive off-network cable rights to "Shark Tank."


"Shark Tank," on ABC. Sharks include Barbara Corcoran, Mark Cuban, Kevin O'Leary, Robert Herjavec, Lori Greiner.
Eric McCandless | Walt Disney Television | Getty Images
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