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Serial entrepreneur Duncan Bannatyne, or Dragon Duncan, as he is now known, was recently seen on BBC’s 2 Dragons Den, the latest reality show to hit our screens, but with a twist.
He grew up in Clydebank and in his early teens he joined the Navy. He left the Navy at 19 after a disagreement with a commanding officer and lived in Jersey where he gained a reputation as a bit of a party animal. It was when sitting on the beach one morning, with nothing to his name, that he boldly told his then girlfriend they were moving back to mainland Britain to become millionaires. Never have truer words been spoken!!
He moved to Stockton-On-Tees with his now ex-wife Gail and bought an ice-cream van for £450 and, at the age of 31, had his own business. Duncan's Super Ices expanded to four vans and a turnover of £300,000. He sold up and moved on to Quality Care Nursing Homes and setup Just Learning children's day-care centres.
He then suffered a serious leg injury which took him into a gym for the first time and subsequently he set up Bannatyne’s Fitness Ltd a health centre chain which has a reported annual turnover of £30million, more than 30 health clubs and he now plans to build a UK casino empire.
Areas of Expertise
The show was very much BBC’s X factor for entrepreneurs and secured viewing figures of over 3 million. It also recorded one of the channel’s highest ever audience appreciation figures for a new programme. Members of the general public and those would-be entrepreneurs out there presented their ideas to Duncan and the dragons and they decided whether or not they got his business know how….but more importantly, his investment! The show received a huge amount of attention and proved to be very popular with that perfect formula following in the same vein as The Apprentice and the Pop Idols/ X Factor etc. There were occasions when Duncan was a little Simon Cowell’esque in his approach but he openly admits ‘I am here to invest and make money, not to win a popularity contest’
However such was his allure and popularity with audiences, not to mention his incredible business acumen, he was also asked to present/be the expert on, BBC 1’s Mind Your Own Business, on screens April / May 2005, where he is set the task turning around the fortunes of the ordinary high street business in the same vein as the hugely successful Sir John Harvey-Jones’ Troubleshooter.
It was Duncan’s tremendous entrepreneurial instincts, commercial nouse and his business success that helped him land these new shows and he is proof that rags to riches does exist and he is a completely self-made man in the truest sense of the word.
When he is not presenting or running one of the country’s most profitable and largest independently owned businesses, Duncan likes to spend his time with his family, or pursuing his hobbies and sports such as running, climbing, water skiing and scuba diving. He dedicates a great deal of his time working with charitable organisations such as UNICEF and Scottish International Relief. He also established the Bannatyne Hospice for Children with HIV and AIDS in Romania.