8 MARK BURNETT & ROMA DOWNEY
2018: £390m 2017: £390m (9th)
Mark Burnett, the Essex-born reality TV supremo of Hollywood, is reckoned to be one of Donald Trump’s best friends. Indeed he devised the hit TV show The Apprentice which propelled Trump to stardom and ultimately perhaps the White House. Yet it has not been all plain sailing for Burnett, who is coming under increasing pressure to reveal whether there are tapes of Trump preparing for the show using racially derogatory language. Burnett showed up in Hollywood more than 30 years ago with just $200 to his name. Educated at the Warren School in Romford, Burnett fought in the 1982 Falklands conflict. Over the years the former paratrooper dreamt up reality TV hits including Survivor, Shark Tank and The Voice. He and his Irish actress wife Roma Downey are the driving force behind The Bible and other faith-based programmes. Downey also now has her own star on Hollywood Boulevard. Hollywood studio MGM spent $343m in September 2015 to take a 55% stake in their TV production company and a few months later the pair exchanged their remaining stake for 1.3m MGM shares. That stake should now be worth around £94m. In December 2015 Burnett signed a five-year contract to become president of MGM Television while Downey became chief content officer of the faith and family division. She and her husband last year oversaw the $100m production of Ben-Hur, a modern retelling of the religious epic. Despite the lower value of their MGM stake, we leave the Malibu-based couple at £390m this year. The couple last year bid $1.5m for a work by the Swiss artist Urs Fischer at Sean Penn’s fundraising event for the hurricaneravaged island of Haiti.