NEW YORK – Who wants to be a millionaire? Hard-charging business school students, who are being pitted against each other next month in CNBC's first-ever game show.
"Fast Money MBA Challenge," which premieres Aug. 1 and runs for four hourlong episodes once a week, is both a summertime diversion and an attempt to attract young viewers to a network more accustomed to boardrooms than surf boards.
CNBC also hopes it works out better than its recent off-air contest "Million Dollar Portfolio Challenge." Won by a waitress from Ohio, it attracted 377,000 participants but was plagued by disqualifications for cheating.
The MBA challenge pits 32 students in teams from eight colleges testing their business acumen. Modeled after the 1960s era "GE College Bowl" game, the winning team splits $200,000 to be used for college costs.
"It's a way to get a new audience interested in our core content," said Mark Hoffman, CNBC's chief executive. "It's a fun way to deal with similar themes that we deal with every day."
If the game proves successful, it could become a regular series for CNBC, which is testing new ideas in anticipation of the autumn start of a new competitor, Fox Business Network.
It was the brainchild of Susan Krakower, CNBC's vice president of strategic planning and development. She thought of it while taking Jim Cramer's "Mad Money" on a tour of college campuses.
But she figured undergrads weren't up to it. "I had to go to the MBAs," she said.
The game includes several rounds, including one where contestants are shown stock symbols and need to identify the companies they represent. Others test knowledge of news straight from the business pages. Contestants stockpile winnings in a virtual portfolio and must decide how much to risk as the game goes on. "Fast Money" anchor Dylan Ratigan is the host.
The teams are from Yale, Columbia, Dartmouth, MIT, NYU, UCLA and the universities of Texas and Chicago.
"These young men and women were so smart, so aggressive and so articulate," Krakower said. "They're our future business leaders. They're the future of Wall Street."