Pitching a maverick 'Shark'
Each of the "sharks" puts up his or her own money, and with his large personal fortune, Cuban is often able to undercut his fellow panelists by simply putting a large take-it-or-leave-it offer on the table -- to the frequent irritation of hard-nosed Kevin O'Leary.
"When you see a good bargain," says Cuban on the set in Culver City, Calif., during a break in filming during the summer of 2011, "you don't mess around, or someone else is going to swoop in and steal it from you.
"And Kevin likes to hear himself talk. We all get humbled on this show at one point or another, and if I can do it to Kevin, all the better."
Outside the show, Cuban is a frequent "angel investor," but don't come to him looking for sympathy.
"I don't care when the sob story was a reason for them to start the company," he says. "That's great. Whatever the motivation was, use it. But very often, people will come in and use that sob story as a reason I should invest, that I should feel sorry for them. And that's an immediate turnoff."
Also expect to work your tail off if you want Cuban's cash. "Ideas are easy," he says. "Everybody's got them. The hard part's executing on the idea. And you've got to have somebody who's willing to make the sacrifices required to do it. It's hard to have balance in your life and also start and build and run a successful business or be successful at most anything.
"I also look for people who love what they do. You'll hear me ask, 'What did you dream about last night?' Every one of my companies that I ever had that were successful, I would dream about them."