What do presidential candidate Mitt Romney and American Idol host Ryan Seacrest have in common?
No, Romney's recent singing performance hasn't landed him a spot on the FOX talent show, but it looks like his former employer has taken a keen interest in the business dealings of Idol's host.
Private-equity investment companies Bain Capital LLC, where Romney served as CEO in the 1990s, and Thomas H. Lee Partners LP have committed up to $300 million to Ryan Seacrest Media to invest in and develop new media projects, Bloomberg reports. Romney's relationship with Bain has been a controversial topic on the campaign trail; the front-runner for the Republican nomination has claimed that he created jobs as CEO of the company, while critics have accused him of the opposite.
Though Romney's former employer and Seacrest's company may seem like odd bedfellows, investing in the TV personality's empire is likely a good move for Bain.
Seacrest "has proven to be smart in leveraging his celebrity into real business success and opportunity," Mike LaSalle, a Shamrock Capital Advisors partner told PEHUB.com. "Not every person can do that."
While such aptitude may indeed be rare, the crossover from reality TV star to entrepreneur is becoming an increasingly popular one. Established entrepreneurs like Donald Trump have made the leap to reality TV through shows like The Apprentice, for example, but it's not just Seacrest who's proven the crossover can be made in the opposite direction, as well.
Indeed, the star of one of Seacrest's own productions, Kim Kardashian, may be one of the most successful examples. After the success of her reality shows, Kim, alongside sisters Kourtney and Khloe have developed not only a lasting personal brand, but have leveraged that success in the business world. Most recently, the sisters caused a buzz when they started promoting their denim clothing line Kardashian Kollection with topless ads.
Another reality TV star-turned-entrepreneur is Chris "Drama" Pfaff, most famous for being assistant to skateboarder and businessman Rob Dyrdek on the MTV shows Rob and Big and Rob Dyrdek's Fantasy Factory. Last year, his clothing line Young & Reckless sold out at major retailers, even as he developed his own music label, Causin Drama Productions .