Mark Burnett and Roma Downey
Rank 2017
As the man who devised the TV show The Apprentice in 2004, Burnett had more than a minor part in the script that led Donald Trump to the White House. Widely considered to be the king of American reality TV, Burnett showed up in Beverly Hills and started work as a nanny 35 years ago, with €212 to his name. After several ventures, he launched his career as a TV producer with Eco-Challenge. The former paratrooper, 56, also dreamt up Survivor, Shark Tank and The Voice, and with his actress wife Roma Downey, 56, is the driving force behind the faith-based mini-series The Bible and films including Son of God. Downey, born in Derry, made her mark as Jackie Onassis in a US mini-series, and starred in TV drama Touched by an Angel for 10 years. The couple got together in 2004 and married three years later. Hollywood studio MGM spent €364m in September 2015 to take a 55% stake in their TV production company and a few months later the pair exchanged their remaining holding for 1.3m MGM shares – now worth about €117m. In December 2015 Burnett signed a five-year contract to become president of MGM Television while Downey is president of LightWorkers Media, a Christian-orientated production company. Past sale proceeds and the MGM deal take the Malibu-based couple to €459m. Burnett has been asked to hand over Apprentice out-takes said to be embarrassing for the new president, but insists it is not in his power to do so.