Although I appreciate being reserved as a fall-back, I’m much more accustomed to coming in first. I think you should consider inviting both of us [Corcoran and her rival] to LA for your tryouts. I do my best when my back’s against the wall. I’ve had all my big successes on the heels of rejection and frankly, it’s right up my alley. There was Sister Stella Marie in 5th grade who said I’d always be stupid just because I couldn’t read. Then there was the New York old boy network trying to lock me out of their real estate fortunes, until I became their largest competitor. Then there was The Donald himself who wrongly swore in court I’d never see a penny of the $4m commission he owed me for saving his ass and making the largest land deal in the city’s history. And of course there was my ex-partner Ramòne Simòne who parted with the words, “You know you’ll never succeed without me!” I consider your rejection a lucky charm.
She closed her letter by ballsily informing Burnett that she’d already booked her flight to L.A. Three weeks later, she was back in his office.
The turbo-motivated Corcoran won the job. Later, she discovered that Burnett had rejected 40 wealthy, powerful people. “But none of them came back fighting!” Corcoran says. “It’s a great lesson.” Shark Tank had a successful first season, and although it was not renewed for the fall, Corcoran has gotten her groove back. At 61, she says she has “huge energy—I’m eager, I’m excitable, I work hard.” She continues to dish on the real estate scene on the Today show, where her fizzy demeanor—flirting with the cameraman, joking with Al Roker—has won her many fans. She’s “shepherding to success” the eight Shark Tank businesses she bought and is feverishly pitching new shows to the networks.
“Now I truly feel like I’m on my new adventure. The minute I can do anything well, I’m thinking, OK, I got that down. Now what else can I do?” Corcoran says, laughing. “And the only way I’m going to find out is to keep throwing the crap up there and see what sticks.”
Jancee Dunn is the author of the novel Don’t You Forget About Me.
Originally published as "When Millions Aren’t Enough" in the September 2010 issue of More.