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'Shark Tank': Lori Greiner, Robert Herjavec Preview Season 5, Answer Burning Questions

Season 5 of the ABC series bows Friday; quips Herjavec, "We are so much nastier to each other than in previous years. Maybe it's because they don't feed us."

Shark Tank Judges - H 2013
ABC
"Shark Tank"

After four seasons, Shark Tank viewers might think that the sharks have seen everything.

Not true, say "Queen of QVC" Lori Greiner and technology innovator Robert Herjavec, who insist that the entrepreneurs who enter the "tank" continue to surprise them.

"I think the producers do such a great job of keeping it fresh and new, and just when I think, 'Wow, I'll never see something that tops this,' something new shows up," Herjavec tells The Hollywood Reporter during a recent visit to the show's Culver City set. "It's incredible after five years, when someone comes out and I'm like, 'Wow, that was a great idea' or 'I wasn't expecting that.' "

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Adds Greiner of one unexpected moment in particular during the course of shooting season five, which bows Friday night: "An entrepreneur asked me to marry him the other day. There are lot of surprises to come." 

So what else is new about this season?

For starters, there will be specially themed episodes, including one featuring children, teens and college students, and another spotlighting products with a holiday theme. And in the fifth-season premiere, airing at 9 p.m. Friday, Greiner goes head-to-head with fellow shark Barbara Corcoran for the first time ever. There are also animals: A goat made an appearance at one point during filming.

Says Herjavec: "It's a nasty year. We are so much nastier to each other than in previous years. Maybe it's because they don't feed us," he quips. "We're doing deals for smaller amounts of equity because [the entrepreneurs] have real sales. There are much, much better businesses [than in previous seasons]."

He says that's likely due to people having watched the show and coming in more prepared.

For anyone unfamiliar with ABC's Emmy-nominated series, Shark Tank features the six sharks -- the sextet also includes Kevin O'Leary, Daymond John and Mark Cuban -- getting pitched by aspiring entrepreneurs looking to partner with an investor to take their businesses even further. Some get offered deals; many don't.

But that's just part of the story. When THR went on set to view a taping -- one of the entrepreneurs was a 16-year-old -- Greiner and Herjavec gave some insight into what viewers don't see on TV, shared their advice on what makes for a really good pitch and revealed what happens after the deals are offered and the cameras stop rolling.

How much do you know about an entrepreneur or a product before it's pitched to you?

Greiner: Zero. We know nothing about them. We see them for the first time right in the tank.

And you're not allowed to do any research on the Internet or elsewhere during the pitch?

Greiner: We either know things already about the market because of our knowledge and experience or we try to ask the right questions.

How much internal debate is there before you make an offer?

Greiner: Well, I have a little thing. I can tell instantly if a product is a hero or a zero. But then I hear certain things about the company, and it helps put my decision one way or another.

What really stands out for you as a good pitch?

Greiner: I think a good pitch has two different things. One, it's a good product or good idea. And two, the entrepreneur -- if they are confident and know what they are doing.

Herjavec [to Greiner]: Would you invest in a bad entrepreneur with a good product?

Greiner: I would try to buy the product out or buy out the company. Or I won't do the deal. Nothing ever works with a bad partner. I don't do crazy. If I sense somebody is a little crazy or difficult to work with … I don't need that kind of aggravation.

Herjavec [to Greiner]: That doesn't apply to the sharks right?

Greiner: [Laughs.] No, of course not.

Herjavec: For me, for a good pitch, first of all, you have to be engaging. We film a long time, all day long, and we get a little irritable. You have to get our attention right away.

Greiner: And know your facts. You should know about your business inside and out. Practice, research, know everything about it. And if you don't, it tells us how serious you are -- or not serious.