'Shark Tank' Judge to Run for Political Office in Canada

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Kevin O'Leary

Celebrity businessman Kevin O'Leary said he will challenge for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada.

Shark Tank judge Kevin O'Leary is following in Donald Trump's footsteps as a ready-made reality TV star challenging for his country's top political office.

O'Leary on Wednesday on his Facebook page announced he is entering the leadership race for the Conservative Party of Canada. "You know why? I listened to you," the celebrity businessman said in a 5-minute video posted online.

The Conservative flamethrower, best known to Canadians as the former tough-guy judge on the country's version of Dragons' Den, is looking to win the leadership of the Conservatives and eventually challenge Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the next federal election in 2019.

Americans know O'Leary as a castmember on ABC's Shark Tank, the U.S. version of the global Dragons' Den franchise, and an occasional on-air contributor to CNBC.

As with President-elect Trump, O'Leary will force his rivals for the Conservative Party leadership in Canada to deal with a consummate TV performer and political outsider. His hard shell, and occasional tendency to lose his cool on air, has been great for ratings at the CBC, the country's public broadcaster.

Canada's TV bad boy co-hosted the CBC talker The Lang & O'Leary Exchange for five years, where he commented on the top business stories of the day. And O’Leary fronted another CBC reality show, Redemption Inc., on which he helped ex-cons launch legitimate businesses to get a second chance in life.

Canada's Conservative Party will choose its next permanent leader on May 27.

Jan. 18, 9:15 a.m. Updated to indicate Kevin O'Leary has made it official and will run for the leadership of the Conservative Party of Canada.