Move over Apprentice, with your silly tasks and petty squabbles, there's a real business show on the telly again.
Hilary Devey is the new kid on the block, and boy is she making an impact. With her Lancashire growl and straight-talking style, she's a breath of fresh air in the Den. "You would make my foot itch, mate. I'm not amused; I'm angry. I'm out," she tells one hapless entrepreneur. A chap named Alan with an attitude problem attempting to flog dodgy talking massage chairs. With her eighties shoulder pads and killer red pout, she's set out her stall as a force to be reckoned with.
The dynamics in the Den have changed. Gone is James Caan with his thoughtful chin-stroking, soft-spoken soliloquies and thinly veiled spat with Bannatyne. Instead, Devey, who was a lone woman entrepreneur in a male-dominated haulage industry, oscillates from winning smiles to spitting fury in a heatbeat.
You can read all about this new Dragon in our Hilary Devey profile.
Back to the show. Georgette Hewitt, the first entrepreneur to pitch to the Dragons in this new series, fluffs her pitch instantly and alienates all but two of the investors. Bannatyne calls her business, an online birthday present wishlist for kids, "horrible" claiming that she is destroying Christmas (Bannatyne is a master of hyperbole, no?) by turning present-buying into a digital pastime. Devey picks through her digital credentials: "Do you own the source code?" she barks. Alas, no.
But Paphitis and Peter Jones see the potential in her concept. A middle man, holding no stock, in possession of both thepresentclub.co.uk and thepresentclub.com, with a turnover of £60,000? They promptly join forces and invest £60,000 in exchange for 30% of her business.
Chris Hopkins, the former body builder from Yorkshire, is practically pitch perfect. And his business, a solar panel installation firm capitalising on the solar power feed-in tariff, is the most successful of the crop this episode, with a £5m turnover.
The Dragons really show their teeth over this tasty morsel. Bannatyne peaks too soon with a joint offer (he likes Devey, does Bannatyne) for 22% in exchange for £120,000. But Hopkins has his heart set on Meaden and Paphitis and, after some heart-searching, accepts their offer for the higher stake of 26%.
During negotiations, Bannatyne loses his rag with the entrepreneur, claiming he's insulted by Hopkins' reluctance to make an instant decision. This is where Meaden, level-headed and reasonable as per, shoots back: "This is a big decision. He should take his time over it."
It's an interesting squabble to air so early in the series. We must all remember that long after the cameras pan away and the next person acsends those stairs, these deals are working away in the background; the show is just the beginning. Sensational though some of the businesses may be: husband and wife team Lois and human cannonball Rodrigo are case and point, they are still going concerns. Not just entertainment fodder.
Rodrigo won the hearts of the Dragons this episode, especially when he refused to reveal the details of the cannon mechanism because of the 'human cannonball code', but he could not win over their wallets. "I'd be too worried about you," says Devey. "I'd hate for anything to happen to you!"
The same could not be said for Mr Splashback, an inventor pitching an egg that sits in the toilet to prevent unfortunate splashes and a wet bum. "I feel sick," says Meaden, who is in possession of a delicate constitution. Never has the word 'poo' been more hilariously side-stepped.
All in all, it was a brilliant first epsiode for what looks like a storming new series. We look forward to more explosions from Devey, more tantrums from Bannatyne, more u-turns from Jones, pithy comments from Meaden and quiet determination from Paphitis.
Tune in, same time next week, for our thoughts on episode two.