Dragons’ Den stars Nick Jenkins & Sarah Willingham to step down from BBC show

Dragons’ Den experts Nick Jenkins and Sarah Willingham are officially ‘out’ of the popular BBC show, as it was announced they had been axed.

The pair have reportedly been let go after failing to ‘connect with the audience’ – with BBC producers now avidly hunting for their replacements.

Moonpig founder Nick and restaurateur Sarah took part in the long-running show’s thirteenth and fourteenth series, but have now been cut by show bosses.

Speaking about the decision a source said: ‘It just didn’t work out. They didn’t connect with the audience so bosses have decided to make a swift change.

The hunt to replace them

A BBC spokesperson said: ‘Sarah and Nick have both confirmed today that they are stepping down from Dragons’ Den – they have not been axed and we are grateful for their contribution to the show.’

Talking about his stint on the show, Nick Jenkins explained: ‘I have thoroughly enjoyed making Dragons’ Den but I want to focus more on my portfolio of educational technology businesses and that would make it difficult to take on any more investments from the Den.’

Sarah added: ‘Being part of Dragons’ Den has been one of the best experiences of my life. At the end of last year my husband Michael and I decided to finally put into action our long-held dream to spend a year travelling the world with our young children. Sadly this means that I’ve had to step down from my role as a Dragon. It’s been a great privilege to be part of such a fantastic show and I wish everyone on it continued success.’

Adding to the fray was fellow Dragon Touker Suleyman, who sits on the panel alongside fan favourites Deborah Meaden and Peter Jones.

The Turkish business magnate was quick to confirm that he and the two originals will definitely be returning – and that the BBC are very particular about what they look for in the Dragons.

‘The BBC have their way of finding out which dragons the public like,’ he confessed.

Patrick Holland, the channel editor of BBC Two, further confirmed the news last night in gratitude of their efforts on the last two seasons.

He said: ‘As they step down, I want to thank them and wish them all the very best for the future.’

Nick, sold card and gift retailer Moonpig for £120M in 2011 had gushed of his love of start-ups as opposed to big companies when he first accepted his role on the show.

The 49-year-old said in 2015: ‘It is a more exhilarating journey and requires instinctive, fast decision-making.

‘Today’s technology means that it is possible for a business to succeed or fail much faster than ever before.’

Expressing his delight at his new TV role, he added: ‘I am very excited about joining and using my experience to back some great new businesses and help them through the turbulent first years.’

Meanwhile Sarah, who masterminded the Bombay Bicycle Club restaurant chain, revealed she had wanted to do the show to meet ‘brilliant people with brilliant businesses to invest in and support’.

The mother-of-four has managed a string of big-name restaurants, including Pizza Express and Planet Hollywood, and runs a consumer website.

In light of their departure, Nick revealed he plans to continue focusing on his own businesses, while Sarah is heading on a year of travelling with her four children.

The 42-year-old millionaire and her husband Michael recently revealed that they have taken their children Minnie, 10, Monti, eight, Nelly, six, and Marly, five out of school in order to travel the world as a family.

In an interview with Hello! magazine, the businesswoman said the trip would give her ‘precious time’ with her brood, after she had been too busy to take maternity leave when they were born.

She said: ‘They still think we’re cool, they still choose us over their mates and I feel I’m bottling a period of our life that we’ll never forget.’