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New dragon to heat things up in the den

The temperature has gone up in the den since our new female dragon, Norah Casey, joined the show replacing Sarah Newman for our third series. Norah is the managing director of the Harmonia Group, publisher of some of Ireland's top women's magazines.

Our second programme is on RTE 1 tonight at 9.30pm and there will be more skin and hair flying, but again mostly between the dragons.

Norah is feisty. She is a force to be reckoned with, but has a disarming smile. I love her. During last week's show there was right battle between Norah and Niall, who made a joint offer, and myself for savvybear.com, an online game for eight-to-12-year-olds. But Norah dumped Niall without the blink of an eye, and in the subsequent shoot-out with me she came out on top, securing the investment. Let's hope I do better in tonight's show.

There is a new trend in this series, where promoters do not always accept offers made to them. That's because a better calibre of entrepreneur is coming into the den. They are not as likely to give away as much equity as in previous years. So a recurring feature of this third series is the dragons making an offer, but being turned down by the promoter.

Now I happen to think that those who turned me down, and it happened three or four times, made a big mistake. However, this year Dragons' Den is followed directly by a second series called Dragons' Den on Tour. Viewers will see, as we revisit people from series one and two, that many of those who failed to get backing from the dragons have done very nicely, thank you.

Also the dragons have invested more in this series than they have done previously. All business people are under pressure these days and the dragons are no exception. But if my fellow dragons have spent a record amount of money in the den this year it is because of the high standard of ideas coming on the show.

Sean Gallagher has gone a bit soft, though. He is madly in love, having recently married. On the other hand, Bobby Kerr is even more abrasive than in previous years. Tonight he says to a promoter, "I smell a rat." The man takes great offence. Niall O'Farrell is as funny as ever: "I love the logo, I love you, I love the idea but I'm out." But he makes a few investments this series with his heart, not his head. And Norah is a formidable, no-nonsense woman.

A consequence of doing Dragons' Den is that the five so-called dragons are invariably described as being successful. The truth is that I have had many past failures, but I have been lucky enough to survive and learn from them.

Finally, I would say I speak for a lot of business people who hope, now the election is over, that we can all stop thinking about the past and focus on the future. We got into this mess because we all believed the boom would never end. We won't get out of this mess either if we believe the recession will never end. But economies work in cycles. And today we are inevitably one day closer to the recovery.

You can follow Gavin Duffy's blog about 'Dragons' Den' at www.gavinduffy.ie, or www.mediatraining.ie

Sunday Independent