Diane Haithman is a Deadline contributor.

The new CNBC competition show Crowd Rules was inspired by crowd funding and a desire to bring that Internet phenomenon to reality television, said the show’s executive producer Michael Davies and CNBC’s VP Alternative Programming Jim Ackerman at today’s NBC Press Day panel. Crowd Rules, which premieres May 14 at 9 PM with eight episodes, pits three small businesses against each other for a $50,000 prize. A studio audience of 100 will vote the winner. Appearing onstage with show panelists Pat Kiernan and Kendra Scott, producer Davies said he was inspired by recent statistics that show the importance of small and family-owned businesses in the American economy.

Ackerman told Deadline after the panel that crowd funding was a more important inspiration than ABC’s business competition show Shark Tank. He said the SEC does not yet allow crowd sourcing on TV but noted that there is a similarity in putting a monetary prize to the vote of 100 people. Panelists said the winners of the first eight episodes do not get their money until their show airs. When jokingly asked what might happen if the show is canceled before all the episodes air, Ackerman said, “They’ll all air; they’ll get the money.”

Ackerman also addressed the progress of CNBC’s primetime rebrand CNBC Prime, which launched March 7 with the new series Treasure Detectives and The Car Chasers. “It’s only seven weeks old,” he said. “It’s exactly where we were thinking we were going to be.” Ackerman described the pace of CNBC Prime’s audience growth “a smart slow-go.” He added that the target demographic for the programming is 25-54. And while CNBC programming skews male, he said the businesses featured in Crowd Rules are about equally split between those owned by men and by women or husband-wife couples.