Childhood & Early Life
Mark Burnett was born on 17 July 1960, in London, England. His father, a Roman Catholic, was a Ford Motors factory worker, and his mother, a Presbyterian, also worked for Ford Motors.
Aged 17, he joined the British Army as a section commander in the Parachute Regiment. From 1978 to 1982, he worked with the 3rd Battalion and saw action during the Falklands War.
In October 1982, Burnett moved to USA and became a nanny of two boys of Burt Jaegers. He was then employed as an insurance agent by Burt.
During this time, he spent the weekends selling t-shirts. After realizing the potential of his business, he left his insurance job.
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In 1991, Mark Burnett joined a French adventure competition called the ‘Raid Gauloises.’ He purchased the format rights and started a similar competition titled ‘Eco-Challenge’ in America, thus kicking-off his career as a TV producer.
In 2000, he launched his reality show ‘Survivor’ for CBS. Since then, the show has spawned several seasons and is regarded as the #1 reality series of all time.
In 2004, he came up with the reality TV series ‘The Apprentice’. The program that judges the business skills of contestants was started by NBC with Donald Trump serving as the host for the first fourteen seasons.
Also in 2004, Burnett created and wrote 'The Casino', an American reality TV series that followed two dot-com millionaires, Tim Poster and Thomas Breitling. The series was, however, cancelled after two months.
In 2005, he created the reality show ‘The Contender’. Starring Tommy Gallagher, Dub Huntley, Jeremy Williams and others, it followed a group of boxers and their relationships with each other and their families.
During 2005, Mark Burnett served as the executive producer of ‘Rock Star’. The show debuted on CBS in July 2005 and involved aspiring singers who competed with each other to become the lead singer of a featured group.
This was soon followed by 'On the Lot', a single season reality series and online competition for filmmaking which was produced by Burnett alongside Steven Spielberg and David Goffin.
On August 9, 2009, ABC premiered his business reality television series, ‘Shark Tank.’ The series became a huge success and earned several Emmy Awards.
From 2010 to 2013, Mark Burnett created several shows, including the short-lived ‘Sarah Palin's Alaska’, ‘School Spirits’, ‘Stars Earn Stripes’ and ‘Rock and Roll Fantasy Camp’.
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During this time, he also came up with ‘HGTV Star,’ where contestants compete for interior design challenges. The show ran for 63 episodes and was cancelled after seven seasons.
In the year 2015, he launched ‘The Dovekeepers’ miniseries on CBS and ‘500 Questions’ for ABC. The following year, Burnett produced the reality TV show, ‘America's Greatest Makers.’ Launched on TBS, the show’s judging panel included Intel CEO Brian Krzanich, Carol Roth, and Kevin Pereira.
His projects in 2017 included ‘Steve Harvey's Funderdome’ and ‘Survivor: Game Changers’. Also in May 2017, Burnett served as the co-executive producer of ‘Beat Shazam’. On July 12, 2017, Fox renewed the show for its second season. In January 2020, it was renewed for its fourth season.
He has also served as the executive producer of a few TV shows, ‘The Voice’ (NBC), ‘The World's Best’ (CBS), ‘Lucha Underground’ (The El Rey Network), and ‘Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader’.
As chairman of MGM Worldwide Television, Burnett oversees many scripted TV shows, including ‘Condor,’ ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ ‘Vikings,’ and ‘Get Shorty.’
He alongside his third wife Roma Downey produced ‘The Bible,’ a History Channel drama based on the Bible. The drama became the #1 new series in 2013 and also emerged as # 1 series in Spain, Canada, and Portugal.