He’s brutally honest with contestants on the ABC investment reality show in a way that often recalls the jarring Simon Cowell, the former judge on “American Idol.”
The other Sharks on the show, which is rated No. 1 on Friday nights, sarcastically call O’Leary Mr. Wonderful. The nickname has stuck. When he shows up at hotels, they often have the reservation under his nickname.
“I am Mr. Wonderful because it’s wonderful to be told the truth,” O’Leary, the author of “Cold Hard Truth on Men, Women & Money,” told IBD. “Everyone else coddles people even when their ideas don’t have any merit. In money, there’s no gray, only black and white — you make it or you lose it.”
Whatever one thinks of his sharp tongue, he knows what he’s talking about, with a net worth of $300 million, according to Forbes.
O’Leary, 59, was born in Montreal. He seemed predestined for business, given the charisma and wit of his Irish salesman father and his financially conscious mother.
But when Kevin was 6, Mom grew tired of Dad’s gambling, divorced him and married a student pursuing a Ph.D. in business with just $36 to his name.
During the ensuing custody battle, Kevin’s mother kept them safe from his dad’s rough friends by taking Kevin and his brother to Switzerland. They returned a couple of months later when the father died of a heart attack.
O’Leary’s stepfather became an official at the United Nations, and they moved frequently to such nations as Ethiopia and Cyprus.
The boys’ parents made sure they mixed with the locals and not just U.N. families. “I had a chance to experience different cultures, something that has made me a better investor,” said O’Leary. “Now I can go back to places like Cambodia, where the country has had a dramatic turnaround, and see great opportunities. I’d tell anyone starting a career today that they should consider going where there is high single-digit growth, like China, India, Brazil or Vietnam.”
Read the entire story at Investor’s Business Daily.