Reuters International

Television personality Kevin O'Leary arrives at the 2015 American Music Awards in Los Angeles, California November 22, 2015. REUTERS/David McNew

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OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canadian businessman and reality TV star Kevin O'Leary holds the lead in a crowded field of contenders running for the leadership of the opposition Conservative party, according to a new poll.

In a poll of 1,332 Canadians by Forum Research published on its website on Tuesday, O'Leary was the preferred candidate with 27 percent support. Former Conservative Cabinet members Maxime Bernier and Lisa Raitt came in next with 11 percent and 7 percent support, respectively.

However, 38 percent of those questioned in the random survey believed that "someone else" would be a better choice to lead the party, which was ousted by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's Liberals in 2015.

While there are 14 candidates for the Conservative leadership election, scheduled to be held in May, Forum Research polled voters on eight contenders. The poll was taken from Jan. 19 to 21.

O'Leary, known for his appearances on reality shows "Shark Tank" and "Dragons' Den," announced his candidacy last week, vowing to make Canadian business more competitive.

He is often compared to Republican U.S. President Donald Trump for their similarities in style, wealth and not having held political office before their campaigns.

(Reporting by Leah Schnurr; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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