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Billion Dollar Buyer borrows well from Shark Tank, The Profit

Billion Dollar Buyer borrows well from Shark Tank, The Profit
In Atlantic City, Tilman Fertitta checks out a product on Billion Dollar Buyer. (Photo by Nick Valinote/CNBC)

CNBC’s success with Shark Tank repeats has led to several shows with shades of that series: well-established, wealthy people investing in small, up-and-coming businesses—or in people or businesses who desperately need help, as The Profit does.

The most recent show to follow that model is Billion Dollar Buyer (CNBC, Tuesdays at 10), which has already been renewed for a second season after having what CNBC called the network’s “most-watched series premiere hour ever.” It has its season-one finale tonight; a preview is below.

The show stars Tilman Feritta, who owns Landry’s, the company behind 500 restaurants, casinos, hotels, and entertainment properties, including Bubba Gump’s, Rainforest Cafe, McCormick & Schmick’s and the Golden Nugget casinos. On each episode, he meets the owners of small businesses who produce something he might want to buy in massive quantities for his properties, tests their products, and challenges them to improve.

Then they pitch him—an interesting twist—and he decides whether or not to place a purchase order. There’s no investment, no equity, but still a lot of information. In the way that Shark Tank has taught me about valuation and The Profit has taught me about, well, profitability, the five episodes of Billion Dollar Buyer have been a good crash course in purchasing power and wholesale costs.

Having a built-in formula—visits, challenge, re-visits, pitch—has worked well for the series, which takes some of the better parts of Shark Tank and The Profit and makes them into something new and worth checking out if you like those shows.

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