Jim Treliving knows a thing or two about picking a winner — whether it’s a new employee, a partner or an investment.

Jim is the tall, well-dressed straight shooter on Dragons’ Den. As you see every week at the beginning of the show, he used to be a Mountie, before he started building the Boston Pizza chain. He’s also a heck of a good guy.

But he’s tough. And he knows what he likes — especially when he’s interviewing candidates for a job.

“I can usually make a call in the first 15 seconds,” says Jim. “There are a few things that strike me right away, that let me know whether this person has a shot or not.”

He says making eye contact is important. It shows confidence. Treliving also looks for someone who’s tidy — no soup stains or untucked shirts! — and enthusiastic. He can tell pretty quickly when someone is genuinely eager to get into business with him one way or another.

“I like to know if they’re a self-starter,” says Jim. “If a person needs to be given a list of things to do, they probably aren’t a fit with the company.”

Of course Jim has also been on the other side of the desk, trying to convince someone he’s got what it takes. In fact, he had to do it with his own father.

After he left the RCMP, he wanted to buy into Boston Pizza — a restaurant started in Edmonton by an immigrant to Canada from Greece. But Jim didn’t have the money he needed. He asked his father for a loan.

“You don’t know anything about business,” his dad told him, “You’re a policeman.”

Jim tried to explain the opportunity he saw for himself. “Let me get this straight,” said his dad.

“You want to sell Italian food with a bunch of Greek people in Edmonton?”

“Dad, I just need a hand,” pleaded Jim.

“You don’t need a hand,” responded good old Dad. “You need a psychiatrist!”

Eventually his father did co-sign a loan, and Jim was on his way. Boston Pizza now has over 300 locations in Canada. He truly is “the food dude,” as Kevin calls him on tonight’s episode.

Which is likely why an entrepreneur with a food-related business is so eager to partner with him on tonight’s show. Does this pitcher meet Jim’s exacting standards? Watch tonight and you’ll see.

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