First Monday: What's on tap for the business world in November

BUSINESS CALENDAR

Nov. 6: Many major retailers will report their October sales figures. The reports are expected to provide the most up-to-date assessment of how the economy is affecting shoppers' spending.

Nov. 7: The government's October employment report is released.

Nov. 13: How should hedge funds be regulated? What part did they play in the financial markets' troubles? Five prominent hedge fund managers, including George Soros, are scheduled to testify on those questions and more during a congressional hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

Nov. 18: The National Association of Realtors releases its Third Quarter Metro Home Prices/State Sales report.

Nov. 19: The Federal Reserve releases its latest projections for the economy.

Nov. 20: Small businesses' access to capital since the financial meltdown will be discussed at a Securities and Exchange Commission round table starting at 9 a.m. ET. The round table will be webcast live on sec.gov. Registration information for the public event at the SEC's Washington, D.C., headquarters is also on its website.

Nov. 28: Will the economy's woes make "Black Friday" — the traditional kickoff of the holiday shopping season — a bust for retailers?

WATCH, LISTEN & READ

On TV

50 Cent: The Money and the Power, MTV, premieres Thursday (Nov. 6), 10 p.m. ET/PT

Rap superstar 50 Cent (née Curtis Jackson III) goes Donald Trump, fronting an Apprentice-like reality show in which 14 young people compete for 100,000 of 50 Cent's bucks.

"My music has created big business, so I've decided to share my wisdom with the voices of the future," 50 Cent says in the show's intro. "Give someone the head start I never had."

His first lesson: Choose your crew wisely. In the premiere, two leaders must guide their folks to Brooklyn.

Clues you're watching MTV: a thumping soundtrack, more bleeping than dialogue and a contestant named Cornbreadd. It's not immediately clear what any of the candidates hope to do with 50 Cent's investment.

Dragons' Den, BBC America, Thursdays 9 p.m. ET (Season 1 marathon Sunday, Nov. 9, 2:30 p.m. ET/11:30 a.m. PT)

On this snappy British business-reality show, fledgling entrepreneurs pitch their ideas to an intimidating panel of five wealthy moguls who will put up their own money — usually in exchange for a stake in the company — if they're sold on the project.

Most ideas and inventions are met with ridicule, such as an exercycle recliner or a fee-based hotline for car problems, but when an opportunity snags their interest, it's fun to watch the dragons negotiate terms.

Stay tuned for an American version: ABC has ordered a pilot, renamed The Shark Tank, to be co-produced by The Apprentice's Mark Burnett.

How Stuff Works,Discovery Channel, premieres Nov. 13, 8 p.m. ET

The topics featured on the Discovery Channel's newest show couldn't be more basic. Twelve hour-long episodes deconstruct everyday commodities such as corn, wheat, iron, aluminum, water, turkeys and beer. How do you make a show about commodities fascinating?

The show opts for what executive producer Beth Dietrich calls the gee-whiz moment.

For example, who knew that 99% of the world's corn harvest is inedible? That, by law, bourbon is 51% corn?

"You look at a field of corn, and you almost can't think of anything more natural, but yet, there's so much science and research and R&D and money that's put behind these things to maximize the output," Dietrich says.

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