As an entrepreneur it's probably likely that you don't spend a ton of time sitting around watching the box.
In which case, it's even more important to choose the TV that you do watch, very carefully.
To help you out, I've put together this list of business TV shows for entrepreneurs.
Some of the TV shows are fictional, and some are reality business TV shows…but they all have lessons to help you become a better entrepreneur.
These are my most recommended business TV shows for entrepreneurs…
‘Reality' Business TV Shows
#1. Shark Tank
Shark Tank is a business reality TV show where entrepreneurs make business pitches to a panel of five potential investors.
On the strength of the pitch, the “sharks” then decide whether to invest in their company as business partners.
The show first went to air in 2009 as the American version of a global format that originated in Japan in 2001, where it's called The Tigers of Money.
The regular panel of sharks is made up of hugely successful, self-made, business people such as Mark Cuban and Barbara Corcoran.
Guest sharks have included Richard Branson and Ashton Kutcher.
This show will certainly teach you the importance of a great pitch should you ever be looking for further investment by bringing in new equity partners.
How to Watch: ABC (US); Netflix (UK & India)
#2. Dragons' Den (UK)
Does this look and sound familiar?
That's not surprising.
Dragons’ Den was first broadcast in January 2005 as the UK version of Japan's The Tigers of Money.
Dragons' Den UK became the most successful of the global franchise and it was this version of the show that inspired Mark Burnett to produce Shark Tank in the US.
While the premise of the show is the same as that of Shark Tank, the actual format is pretty unique.
The show has produced some fantastic memorable moments, from diabolical, cringeworthy pitches, to massive success stories.
The panel of investors have also sent a number of budding entrepreneurs packing, who then went on to prove the Dragons wrong.
I absolutely love this show and you can give it a try by watching a few famous pitches on the Dragons’ Den YouTube channel.
How to Watch: BBC (UK); BBC America (US)
#3. How I Made My Millions
This CNBC show gives viewers a look under the hood of multi-million dollar businesses, to show how otherwise average people, have taken their ideas and turned them into hugely successful businesses.
There are some real business lessons to be learnt here.
All of the featured entrepreneurs took some risk, believed in their idea, put in a lot of hard work, and became millionaires.
This is a genuinely fascinating show, looking at the story behind some massive brands, who all started from scratch and went on to create multi-national corporations, including Ping, Dyson, Jelly Belly and OgoSport.
As an entrepreneur, you will find this both inspiring and highly motivational.
How to Watch: Peacock (US)
#4. The Apprentice (UK)
To be fair, I love both the UK and US versions of The Apprentice…but the UK show is still running so I've given it the slot on my list.
The Apprentice US is the first version of the reality business show, first airing in 2004.
The UK were quick to follow bringing their version of the show to air in 2005.
In case you don't know, the premise of The Apprentice is that group of entrepreneurs compete for investment in their business idea from British businessman, Lord Alan Sugar.
It all kicks off with eighteen contenders all hopeful of winning Lord Sugars' investment at the end of the twelve week process.
The hopefuls are split into two teams and given different, challenging business tasks to complete each week.
As you can imagine, what follows is a mixture of impressive business skills from some, and pure cluelessness and comedy gold from others.
The show is a great lesson in the importance of clear communication, team dynamics and resourcefulness.
How to Watch: BBC
#5. Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened
This Netflix show should could quite easily be renamed ‘Everything You Should Absolutely Never Do In Business'.
Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, or as it is now lovingly known…”the biggest entrepreneurial disaster in millennial history,” is must-see viewing.
This Netflix show documents the complete disaster Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule made of putting on a luxury music festival.
The show brilliantly demonstrates the power of influencer marketing…
…and how influencer marketing can completely backfire, when the influencers involved are happy to take the money being offered, without having a clue about what they're touting.
About four hundred influencers were involved in selling out five thousand tickets which cost up to USD 100,000 each.
Despicable behaviour from start to finish.
Business owners that did not care one bit about their customers, along with influencers only thinking about their payday.
Billy McFarland ended up getting a six year jail sentence for defrauding investors of more than $26 million.
Ja Rule was cleared of any wrongdoing, he just has to spend the rest of his life trying to live down his pretty signifiant involvement in the whole sh*t show.
How to Watch: Netflix
#6. Kitchen Nightmares
Brit chef Gordon Ramsey is the potty-mouthed star of Kitchen Nightmares.
This TV show is all about helping failing restaurant owners get back on track.
Well, that along with shouting at them, swearing at them, and generally humiliating them throughout the whole painful process.
In all honesty, I find this one a painful, kind of cringeworthy watch, but, that said, Gordon Ramsey is pretty successful at getting most of the business firing again.
What's the business lesson in this show?
I think there is a couple, like not burying your head in the sand if things start going against you, which seems to be a common occurrence, certainly in the restaurant industry.
Along with how, even apparent lost-causes can be turned around, given a clear plan of action and a lot of hard work.
How to Watch: BBC America (US)
#7. Undercover Boss
In Undercover Boss the owner of a large, successful business literally goes undercover, by wearing a disguise and then pretending to be a new employee, usually carrying out a less than glamorous role.
This is all done so that the boss can get a real view of their business, from the inside, without any of the usual polish.
They do a great job of making sure the whole business comes under the microscope. From the bottom to the top, business systems through to staff / customer interactions.
Once the bosses working week is done, they pick out a few particularly worthy employees for some pretty generous rewards…and its a genuinely heart-warming moment.
In this show you get to learn how vital it is not to lose sight of the day-to-day business goings-on, not to surround yourself only with board members but to get out there with the staff, and to always keep your eyes wide open.
This is one of the few business TV shows that is not all about making money, it is also a great lesson in humility, and how if you treat your staff well, they will generally perform better and be loyal.
How to Watch: Hulu (US)
‘Fictional' Business TV Shows
#1. Silicon Valley
I'll kick off the fictional shows with Silicon Valley, which follows the trials and tribulations of a group software developers looking to succeed in California's Silicon Valley.
Silicon Valley casts a sideways glance at the tech startup ecosystem and is genuinely funny with a great cast.
The show chronicles how challenging it is for budding entrepreneurs to get their product off the ground in the super-competitive environment of Silicon Valley, even when they have a knock-out product.
Silicon Valley ran for a total of six seasons and aired over fifty episodes.
This is a top show, as an entrepreneur, you’re going to find the plot rings true more often than you would probably like it to.
How to Watch: HBO (US & UK); Hotstar (India)
#2. Mad Men
Straight up one of my favourite TV shows ever. Ninety-two episodes of pure TV gold.
In basic outline the show is about the lives of a bunch of executives at 1960's Madison Avenue advertising agency Sterling Cooper.
As you can imagine, selling advertising in the sixties, in New York, was pretty lawless and not for the feint hearted.
Mad Men is brilliantly cast and gives a captivating view of of ad agency life in an age when business was won and lost very differently to how it is today.
Are there relatable business lessons to be learnt?
There sure are…
…Sterling Cooper always seems to be in someone's sights for a takeover, or a management buyout, or a reverse takeover, and so it gives a funny but truthful insight into the endless office politics that go on in these situations.
It's also a great lesson in how if you let your salespeople run around unchecked, they will likely end up spending most of their time pi$$ing all over each others business leads.
On top of that, because the story spans the whole of the sixties, and the phenomenal changes that took place during that era, it's also a lesson in remaining flexible and adaptive as a business.
How to Watch: Apple TV+ (US), Amazon Prime (UK & India)
With Damian Lewis and Paul Giamatti starring, it's hard to imagine that this one could have gone too far wrong.
Billions is story of power and power hungry people in New York's financial world.
The core plot is around around an ongoing battle between prominent New York hedge fund manager Bobby Axelrod, and his nemesis in the form of US Attorney Chuck Rhoades.
Axelrod, played by Daniel Lewis, is a money and power obsessed hedgie, who is more than happy to cross legal and moral lines in his pursuit of yet more power and money.
Rhoades, played by Paul Giamatti, is a money and power obsessed lawman, who is more than happy to cross legal and moral lines in his pursuit of landing Axelrod in jail…and of course yet more power and money!
I love this TV show, it's massively entertaining and extremely binge-able.
Does it offer up any real business lessons?
Yes it absolutely does.
The show has many great lessons on leadership, office dynamics, inclusiveness, non-inclusiveness…as well as how you should try real hard not to behave like a sociopath, even if you are one.
You can watch a handful of great clips over on Billions official YouTube channel.
How to Watch: Showtime (US); Sky Atlantic (UK); Hotstar (India)
Are you waiting to take over a multi-million dollar family business, or are you out there carving your own path?
If it's the former, you may want to start watching this one, as it is a stark lesson in the folly of waiting for generational wealth and fortune to come your way.
The story of Succession revolves around the Roy family, who control one of the biggest media and entertainment conglomerates in the world…its total fiction of course, not based on the Murdoch family in any way.
The show tracks the financially privileged, yet emotionally barren lives of four Roy family siblings, as they ruthlessly jostle for the top positions within the business, and the adoration of their father, as he begins to contemplate stepping back from the business.
They're a dysfunctional and utterly despicable bunch who spend their lives trying to trample each other down in any which way they can. All while their father, Logan Roy, looks on with sadistic pleasure.
…Tread your own path, feather your own nest.
How to Watch: HBO (US); Sky Atlantic (UK); Hotstar (India)
Okay so Ballers is a super-lighthearted / comedy show that follows the life of a retired NFL player, now trying to carve out a new career as the agent / financial manager of current NFL players.
The show stars Dwayne Johnson in the lead role of Spencer Strasmore, and it's an entertaining, funny and easy watch.
The show ran for five seasons from 2015.
The business lesson is all about how to transition from employee to self-employed within the same broad industry.
How to Watch: HBO (US); Sky Atlantic (UK); Hotstar (India)
StartUp is a TV series that follows the development of GenCoin, a new cryptocurrency.
The first season of the show did not seem to go down that well with TV critics, or viewers. But, it's approval ratings grew significantly over the following two seasons.
To say that the shareholders of the GenCoin startup are a mixed bunch would be a huge understatement…between them they just about tick every single box of a businesses modern day diversity requirements.
…Well, okay, you're probably going to have to look past the stabbings, beatings and shootings to see them but yeah there are some.
The business story is around the struggle of trying to bring a cutting edge, controversial technology to market in an already controversial marketplace.
Trying to raise money, get take-up of the tech, stop people stealing your code, along with trying to navigate through exactly who is working for you and against you.
I like it, my partner, well, she hates it.
I'll just round this one up by saying that if you find you're being shot at quite a lot during your working day, maybe it's worth finding a different industry to work in…or changing your working practises!
How to Watch: Sony Crackle (USA); Amazon Prime (UK & India)
Business TV Shows For Entrepreneurs – Wrapping It Up
That's a wrap!…Sorry couldn't help myself.
I hope you find some of these watches both worthwhile and entertaining at the same time.
If you have a favourite business TV show or two of your own, that you think should be added to this list, feel free leave a comment directly below.
Last Updated on June 14, 2021 by andrewtk
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