I've done this sort of thing before, here, but I had the dubious pleasure of interviewing Theo Paphitis in front of an audience yesterday. He's an engaging, intelligent and confident character. He doesn't need much encouragement, but he certainly entertained the guests at a Prince's Trust lunch held at the palatial offices of law firm Halliwells.
But while the future looks quite good for Theo as he embarks upon an 8th series of Dragon's Den, he had a gloomy prognosis for the economy - sorry folks.
“Britain is suffering from some serious underlying economic problems that the nation finds hard to discuss.
“In my opinion unemployment is the biggest current danger. Half of Britain has not actually seen the recession yet, and a recession only really hurts those who have been exposed to job cuts.
“When the public sector starts making cuts, the challenge will affect a lot more people and will become a lot greater. Many have, in fact seen a rise in their disposable income - but it comes at the serious cost of the unimaginable debt mounting behind our backs.”
But he did take the opportunity to advise potential start-ups on some tips to success: “Britain relies on SMEs for almost half of the Gross Domestic Product of the country. Even in a recession, if a business can maintain a healthy cash flow, regardless of profit, it can survive.
“Any entrepreneur needs to take risks, but it is essential to be truthful about your ability to repay debt. Don’t bite off more than you can chew, be aware, and more importantly be realistic of what you can make back.
“50 per cent of all businesses fail in the first 24 months. 500,000 new businesses are set up every year, and many obviously get it badly wrong. The Prince’s Trust is all about enterprise – they give young people the support and guidance they need at the critical early stage of developing a business.”
The whole thing came about thanks to one of the lads who sits near us at Rovers - Ian Currie - who is a mate of Theo and a supporter of the Prince's Trust. Happy to help a good cause.