Articles of Interest

Monday, February 21, 2005

Martha's new boss makes a mint - equity stake in projects
Martha's New TV Boss Makes a Mint
The Apprentice: Martha Stewart may prove the biggest windfall yet for NBC’s Mark Burnett.
Tuesday, February 8, 2005
By Grainger David

A simple producer's fee has never been enough for Mark Burnett. First he made aggressive product placement the centerpiece of reality TV; then he persuaded NBC to let him sell one-third of the ad time for his upcoming show, The Contender (for more on Burnett see "Hollywood Hitman" on But his newest strategy could be his biggest score yet: investing in his stars.

Turns out that last March, when Burnett was casting around for someone to host an Apprentice spinoff, he struck a deal with Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia in which he was given warrants to buy 2.5 million shares of stock at $12.59. By early February, when Burnett finally announced The Apprentice: Martha Stewart, the stock had nearly tripled, thanks in part to rumors his visits to Camp Cupcake helped flame, making his stake worth more than $50 million.

Burnett, who claims he will make "way more" on such deals than on his producer's fees, is also invested in Everlast, which will feature prominently in his boxing show, The Contender, which premieres in March. The company couldn't pay the traditional product-placement charges, so Burnett (and his five partners on the show including Jeffrey Katzenberg) cut a deal for 5% of Everlast's stock per season. "It's likely the stock price will go up drastically due to the exposure," Burnett says. Finally, for his CBS show Rock Star this summer, featuring INXS' search for a new frontman, Burnett has already secured rights to 50% of any subsequent touring and CD sales.

True, Burnett didn't get any such concessions from the original Apprentice, Donald Trump. In fact, in order to bring Trump onboard with Martha he was given a hefty but undisclosed fee for executive-producing the show. Meanwhile The Donald has committed to two more Apprentice seasons. "I hope her show does even better than mine," Trump says, then hesitates. "But it will be tough." One thing's certain: Burnett has plenty of motivation to make sure Martha succeeds.


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