Who will replace departing Dragon Theo Paphitis?

Could James Caan return? Speculation rife after retail magnate quits 'breathing fire' on BBC show

LAST UPDATED AT 12:03 ON Fri 8 Feb 2013

AFTER nine "intense and fun packed" series, he's out. Theo Paphitis is stepping down from the BBC's reality investment show Dragons' Den to concentrate on his retail businesses full-time.

Paphitis's departure, announced in a tweeted statement, will allow the entrepreneur and TV star to focus on stationery shop Rymans, hardware chain Robert Dyas and his lingerie brand Boux Avenue, launched in 2011.

"The time felt right to give up my seat, stop breathing fire and allow someone else to enjoy the wonderful experience of being a Dragon. So, it just leaves it for me to say thank you to all past and present Dragons. Thank you Auntie. I Am Out," Paphitis said.

The 53-year-old joined the show in 2005 and, according to BBC 2 controller Janice Hadlow, will be "much missed, not only for his dragon-like ability to interrogate an idea, but also for the generosity of spirit he always showed towards any entrepreneur he thought was doing their best".

The businessman saved Millwall from administration during his time as chairman of the football club from 1997 to 2006 and made an estimated £100m from selling off lingerie firm La Senza seven years ago. His departure comes after that of Hilary Devey, who quit in June 2012 after just a year as a Dragon.

Speculation has now turned to who will replace the pair, with The Guardian reporting that candidates include Richard Reed, co-founder and co-CEO of Innocent Drinks, Angus Thirlwell, head of Hotel Chocolat, and Michelle Mone, CEO of lingerie brand Ultimo. There is also speculation that a former Dragon, such as Rachel Elnaugh or James Caan, could return - or even someone who has benefitted from the generosity of Dragons' Den, such as Levi Roots. · 

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