Is the person we see on TV the 'real' Deborah?

Yes of course it is. I’m a very straightforward person and would find it impossible to be something I’m not. It’s a serious business investing money and I’m not afraid of telling it as it is, if needs be! Having said that, it’s the true me in one very specific situation, so it’s not a full and rounded picture. I’m aware that I can come across as quite tough and serious but I don’t have a problem with that, I just hope that people are wise enough to realise there’s more to me than they see on the television.

So what sides of you don't come across on TV?

There’s definitely a more fun side to me than people see on Dragons' Den – you have to remember that I’m there to invest my own money which can be quite sobering. I’m pretty sure I have a good sense of humour (if my laughter lines are anything to go by!) and I can also be compassionate, creative and at times quirky...this is quite hard, perhaps you should ask one of my friends!

How many investments have you agreed in the Den?

I have agreed 33 investments totalling £2m and there are plenty more to come. Oddly, I get criticised for never investing but factually only Theo has agreed more offers than me when you take into account how many series we have all been in.

What has been your favourite TV experience away from the Den?

I can't choose between two but for very different reasons.

The first would be the BBC One comedy panel show 'Would I lie to you', where contestants have to bluff about their deepest secrets.  It was just a wonderful experience to be amongst some of my favourite comedians, all of whom turned out to be genuinely lovely people - I just felt so welcome and had a fantastic time.

The other would be BBC Question Time which I found really challenging and rewarding - but you definitely need to be on your mettle! It gave me the opportunity to discuss relevant topical issues with people who are influencing their outcomes as well as those who are being directly affected by them.

What was the last film you saw?

The last film that I saw was Disneynature's African Cats. The film is an epic true story set against the backdrop of one of the wildest places on Earth.

I was actually lucky enough to attend the UK premiere along with TRH The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. The premiere served as a fund raiser for TUSK, a charity I am a patron of that is dedicated to protecting wildlife, alleviating poverty and promoting education across Africa.

What did you dream of when you were a child?

Many things, but the one dream that I remember very clearly was wanting to be a champion show jumper or eventer. Unfortunately in reality I just wasn't good enough, but I've definitely kept my love of horses and my passion for horse riding over the years.

What gives you a buzz?

Obviously I love success and successful people and I get a high out of seeing a business that I’m involved in flourish. On a personal, more adventure orientated level I love speed, whether it be driving fast cars, boats or from riding my horses. I am really interested in other cultures, ancient and modern and enjoy travelling to far flung places. I also get a huge amount of satisfaction from the home that my husband and I have spent the last few years restoring. I’m very keen on historic buildings, our home was once owned by William Pitt the Elder and we are working on taking it back to it’s former glory.

Where’s your favourite overseas holiday destination?

Probably Central and South America – Guatamala, Hondurous and Costa Rica are all incredible. For me holidays are about discovering and exploring places and cultures. Occasionally we will take a luxrurious beach holiday, but this is very rare. I suppose what I’m saying is that luxury isn’t my number one consideration for a holiday, I’m often more interested in the local area, culture, nature and the overall experience.

What’s your favourite food?

Anything prepared by my husband. He’s a great cook thank goodness, probably because I flatly refuse to be. I’m absolutely useless in the kitchen, in fact I don’t think I’ve cooked a proper meal in 23 years! Other than that I love Thai food, mint aeros and you can’t beat some cheese and a pickled onion for a snack.

What’s your favourite film?

It has to be Moulin Rouge. What an amazing work, a total assault on the senses. I also like the Shawshank Redemption because it’s a great movie about winning against all the odds.

Do you have a pet hate?

YES!!! I hate shopping with a vengeance. I just can’t stand it. I like to make quick decisions and then get out. If there’s a queue (no matter how small) I won't wait. I very rarely go food shopping but when I do I really resent the amount of packaging they put on food in the shops. I have been known to unwrap all my wrapped produce and leave the rubbish at the till just to make a point!

One thing that people wouldn’t know about you?

As a child I won a scholarship to Trinity College School of Music as a pianist – at the time I believe I was the youngest ever. Unfortunately I went from a child prodigy to mediocre within a matter of years. It changed from being something I loved and chose to do, to something that was very structured and time consuming, somehow I felt boxed in and just switched off.

What do you feel strongly about?

I am concerned about waste and the effect it has on the environment. I am not an eco-warrior and believe a practical approach rather than"hair-shirt" approach is by far the most effective way of engaging and influencing others, in other words, I encourage people to do "what they practically can".

Injustice REALLY bothers me and I will fight pretty hard to put things right. It won't surprise you to hear that if I feel strongly about something people soon find out about it. For example, I am seriously concerned about the effect of over-fishing and my friends have been banned from eating Cod...occasionally I get a guilty phone-confession and needless to say, my husband can get a bit embarrassed of me at times!

Which three words would you use to describe yourself?


What do you consider to be one of your greatest strengths?

Being able to put myself in my customers shoes. This is critical in business and lies at the core of good sales and marketing, fortunately it’s something that comes easily to me. Sales and marketing isn’t hard or mysterious you just need to think who is my customer, what do they want, where do I find them and how do I talk to them?

Whilst I am generally very committed and passionate about my projects and businesses, my ability to take a cool, critical approach and make sure my head keeps my heart focused at the poignant moments has certainly been a contributing factor to my success.

What do you consider to be one of your greatest weaknesses?

I don’t suffer fools gladly and at times I know I can be too blunt. When I was MD of Weststar it was my job to get the best out of my people. My direct style meant that I ended up with very robust people because I’m very robust myself. If I have a weakness, it’s probably that I’ve lost some quite good people who didn’t thrive in that environment and I didn’t temper my approach to nurture them.

What’s the most important thing you expect from colleagues and staff?

Honesty is incredibly important to me so I don’t react well if I think someone is bullshitting me. On the other hand if you’re open and honest with me, even if you’ve made a mistake, I’ll do all I can to help and support you. I know I expect a great deal of commitment from my team, I don't understand people who just "do the job" when it is so much more rewarding when you get engaged and enthusiastic.

What do you do in your spare time?

Now the trouble is that I love business and I don’t see it as a chore or work but I guess you’re talking about non business related activities...ok well friends and family are very important and we tend to do something most weekends. Other than my house and my horses I also love architecture, art and antiques so I’ll often visit reclamation yards and junk shops. The trouble is, even when I do get out and about, I can’t stop thinking of ways to improve the businesses I come into contact with!