Burnett is the creator and executive producer of NBC’s “The Apprentice,” an instant cultural phenomenon and the #1-rated new show of the 2003-04 television season.
One of the driving forces behind reality television and a true visionary, Mark Burnett has a long history of executive producing Emmy Award-winning television. Burnett’s entrepreneurial spirit pioneered the success of the reality “unscripted” drama series, garnered skyrocketing ratings and introduced millions of Americans to an entirely new television genre.
Burnett began his career in unscripted drama when he created the adventure series “Eco-Challenge.” He has since served as executive producer on nine “Eco-Challenge” events and programs. “Eco-Challenge: British Columbia” earned him a 1996 Sports Emmy Award nomination and a 1997 International Documentary Association Award nomination. In 2000, Burnett received a Sports Emmy Award for Outstanding Program Achievement for “Eco-Challenge: Morocco,” and was awarded the prestigious Banff Rockie Award in the Sports Program Category by the 2000 Banff Rockie Awards Festival. In addition, he received an Emmy Award nomination for “Eco-Challenge: Borneo” in September, 2001.
In 2000, Burnett broke into prime time television with the hit reality skein “Survivor.” It earned him six 2001 primetime Emmy nominations, taking the honors for Outstanding Nonfiction programming (Special Class) and Outstanding Sound Mixing for Nonfiction Programming (single or multi-camera). The series was again nominated for four Emmys in 2002 and in 2003. In January, 2004, “Survivor” earned the award for Favorite Reality Based Television Program at the 30th Annual People’s Choice Award, making this its fourth-consecutive victory in a row. “Survivor: Pearl Islands” was nominated for the 2004 Producers Guild Award in the Reality/Game/Informational Series.
Having produced nine worldwide “Eco-Challenge” races and series, eight “Survivor” series on CBS, and “Combat Missions” which aired on USA Network in 2002, Burnett continues to break new ground in the “reality” and “unscripted drama” genre. “Boarding House: North Shore,” an unscripted drama about big-wave surfing, aired on the WB summer 2003. NBC’s “The Restaurant,” a six-hour unscripted drama, aired its first season summer 2003 and just completed airing its second season. In the spring of 2003 NBC premiered the 15-episode reality series, “The Apprentice,” hosted by Donald Trump. It was the top-rated new series of the season and finished with an average audience of 28 million people. It has been nominated for four Teen Choice Awards and is nominated for “Program of the Year” by the Television
Critic’s Association. Debuting in June 2004, “The Casino” follows dot.com millionaires Tim Poster and Tom Breitling as they acquire the Golden Nugget Casino in downtown Las Vegas and attempt to restore it to its Rat Pack heyday. Currently in pre-production, NBC’s “The Contender” is an unscripted drama back dropped against the sport of boxing that focuses on a nationwide search for real American heroes and the chance to revitalize boxing.
Burnett continues to diversify by recently bringing his story-telling expertise to the “scripted” world of television. Spring 2003 had Burnett partnering with Carsey-Werner-Mandabach to produce “Are We There Yet,” a scripted sitcom pilot for the WB. Burnett is currently partnered with Warner Brothers Television on two scripted projects: the drama pilot “Global Frequency” set to shoot summer 2004 and a scripted comedy series entitled “Commando Nanny” due to air fall 2004.
Burnett most recently received the Philanthropist of the Year Award from the Reality Cares Foundation. In addition, he was featured in Time Magazine’s “Time 100 List” of the most influential people in the world today; named on the “Top 101 Most Powerful People in Entertainment” list by Entertainment Weekly for the last three consecutive years; garnered the #1 position on TV Guide’s Most Valuable Players list; and earned the Number Two position on Access Hollywood’s “Top 10 in Entertainment 2000 list. Burnett was a recipient of a Special Recognition Award for “Survivor” from the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD); was named in the Advertising Age Top 100 for 2001; and is a featured business leader in Variety’s 2001 “A Tradition of Trendsetting.” Early this year at NATPE, he received the Brandon Tartikoff Legacy Award recognizing individuals who have a unique passion and vision for television.
In addition to his producing credits, Burnett has authored two books about “Survivor” and a third book. He received medals for serving with the Parachute Regiment in Northern Ireland and the Falklands War. He also served two elected terms on the Board of Directors for the British Academy of Film and Television Arts in Los Angeles and is a member of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. Currently, Burnett serves on the Board of Directors of the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric Aids Foundation, and in his spare time is a certified scuba diver and “A”-level skydiver.