The Benefactor…. some more scoop

As the promos start to run… (sorry you have to see those pics of me as a kid :), I’ve been doing some interviews and posting on some message boards. I thoughtI would share some of what I said and wrote here on the blog…

In picking the contestants for The Benefactor, I wanted a wide range of experiences, backgrounds, education and personalities. There were 8 guys and 8 girls, ranging in age from 22 to 42. The common trait that I was looking for was competitiveness and the williness to stand out, rather than fit in.

In every other reality show, everyone does the same thing. That’s not real world. I wanted The Benefactor challenges to represent more of what we all face…

In the real world we either challenge ourselves to figure out how to reach our dreams and goals, or we find ourselves doing the same thing day to day wondering what it will take to find the lives we want. I wanted people who would challenge themselves to go after the million dollar prize knowing it could enable them to change their lives in however they saw fit.

In the real world, when you walk into a job interview, there isn’t a scoreboard above the interviewers head saying where you stand. You have to be prepared to compete as yourself, on your own, using your brains and experiences to get the job. But in the end, it’s one person’s subjective opinion of you that determines your fate, and you go crazy knowing how and why you were or were not picked.

In real world, if you start a business, it’s your business. The brains, creativity and effort you put in to it determine if you survive or go out of business. Until you know, you are at the whim of your prospects and customers, hoping your vision met their needs.

In the real world, everyone thinks there is something special about themselves.
If they only had the chance to show it, and somehow enable it, they could stand out from the pack. Some do. Most don’t. This show is about giving a shot to 16 people to show how they can stand out from the pack. It’s my job to pick the right person. It’s a job I took very seriously.

The Benefactor is about my creating open ended challenges that push each of the 16 contestants to challenge themselves to stand above and apart from their competitors, knowing that 1mm is at stake.

There are challenges that I think reflect what we all face every day trying to make our dreams, whatever they are, come true. Unlike the real world, I had cameras on them all the time to see not only how they responded to the challenges, but how they responded to and competed with each other. Let’s just say some contestants came to the early realization that they weren’t going to win on talent alone and having the cameras certainly helped me out quite a bit.

To give you an idea of the challenges…

In one challenge I gave each contestant 1k dollars and 24 hours to prepare a 15 minute presentation to me that showed what was special about them. An individual task where they had complete creative control. I told them I wanted to see them step out of their comfort zones and do something that showed how they could shine.

It’s not an easy challenge if you think about it. They had no idea what the other contestants would do. Some were so freaked out about this challenge they tried to find out.

How and what do you present about you, or from you, to show me that there is notonly something unique about you, but something that makes you stand out morefrom the competition?

It was really hard on the contestants, but it turned out to be one of the easiest challenges from which to make cuts. It was obvious who opened up and pushed themselves, and who took the completely safe route and did nothing to differentiate themselves. The only risk to me was if someone completely fooled me about who they were. If they completely lied.

Another challenge was based on the premise of time being more valuable than money. I put them in teams of 4 and gave each team 3 hours of my time. My instructions were simple. You have 3 hours, don’t waste my time.

Two teams just blew me away. You know how there are always things you say you are going to do, but never find the time to do because of kids, work, whatever? They understood the concept completely. They had me doing things that I never thought I would find the time to do…I was suprised and I had a blast.

These were just two of the many challenges. I also had character tests to weed out the kiss-ups early.

Honestly, going into the show, I really didn’t know what to except. I did the show because I wanted the experience for myself. I got far more than I expected. I really had a blast with it. It wasn’t easy by a long shot, but it was fun.

I participated far more than a host or judge would. I really got to know and like most of the contestants. Some I thought I would like, and didn’t, but I couldn’t cut them because they were so talented and surprising. Others, I thought I knew, and found out I was completely wrong about. Each cut was painful not just for the contestants but for me as well.

Fortunately I decided to go visit the contestantsand spend a full 24 hour day with them. I got to meet their families, their friends, see where they grew up, and find out what their friends and family thought of them. It was eye-opening.

Thank goodness I did it too because it’s where I found out someone had been lying about themselves. In another case, this person’s family warned me that they thought the contestant’s significant other was a pure golddigger, and if this person won, it could hurt more than help. Then we got the significant other on tape acting the part. On top of that, in one of their interviews, the contestant talked about his/her biggest fear being not wanting to go down in history as the one reality show winner who blew the million dollars in 6 months or less, and had to go back and beg for the job they had before the show. Talk about putting me in a damned if I do, damned if I don’t situation. Do I cut them because of this, or give the contestant the benefit of the doubt and let them deal with it if they won? I really, really liked this person and I lost a lot of sleep and made up and changed my mind dozens of times before I finallymade my decision.

One of the hard parts for me was that I really wasn’t allowed to talk to anyone to get advice. I could ask questions about what a contestant did or said, or ask to see what they did on tape, but there was always someone from ABC right there to make sure the decision was 100 pct mine. As the numbers got smaller the decisions got more and more painful for me to make.

The other thing that was really cool about the show was that I found myself truly impressed with many of the responses to the challenges, and more than a couple times I realized that if I were in their shoes, there is no way I could have come up with the answers and responses that they did.

In the end, I think I made the right choice, and I’m proud of the person I picked. I had fun doing the show, and would do it again in a heartbeat.

33 thoughts on “The Benefactor…. some more scoop

  1. You could be keeping people on not because they have any chance of winning, but because you know they make good television, which will keep viewers coming back. As bad as Sam and Omarosa were, they helped the ratings.

    Comment by wow powerleveling -

  2. The winner does not have to take the advice, but it should be offered. Similar to what I believe should happen in the NBA and other sports venues. Many times people are thrust into fame and fortune without the guidance they need to become all around successful in the financial aspects of life as they are in the “game.” It could pan out to be similar to having a “Coach for Financial Life Success” after a life altering event like this. There are so many people out there that may try to do nothing for the winner but line their own pockets with fees and such for bad advice.

    Comment by runescape money -

  3. scoop some more with cialis

    Comment by cialis -

  4. My mind is like an empty room, but I don’t care. I’ve pretty much been doing nothing to speak of. Today was a loss. I can’t be bothered with anything lately.

    Comment by calling card -

  5. I am hoping by posting a reply I may make an impression on people. Television provides entertainment to people everyday. It is moments of joy a person can count on regardless of the stress and obstacles life may present. I commend Mark for giving excitement to us, the viewers, and life to every person on his show. Mark may be giving one million dollars to one person, but every person on his show has the opportunity to become very wealthy whether they win or not. All they have to do is use the opportunity presented.

    Yes, it was a shame that the guy on the first episode lost right off because his mouth ran due to his nervousness. This same man can profit on his experience by writing a book, “I Lost a Million Dollars in Less Than a Day”,or some other quirky idea having to do with his experience. Every person on the show will have a story to tell. All they have to do is make it attractive to the fans of the show. We must not feel sorry for them, rather envious. They are living an opportunity most of us only dream of. They are stars.

    I had heard so many negative things about this “Crazy Owner of the Mavericks”. I am nothing but impressed with Mark after watching this show. WOW, what a man! He is giving back to the world in every possible way. Yes, Mark is different, with different ideas. Being different than the norm is what creates wonders in this world. It drives creativity and opens new doors. It gives hope to all of us who know not only what we would do for a million dollars, but what a million dollars would do for us and that we have a chance to actually get that money that will make life so much easier.

    Mark: Whom ever you choose will be the right person. You are smarter than most. I can see it in your eyes. You look deeper into everything than most. You look like a very fun person with tons of “good sense”. You will succeed because you believe in what you are doing.

    We can not compare this to all the other reality shows, because it is so different. The show is based on people that could be you, your neighbor, or your sister….

    As far as a charity case winning, I don’t think so. Everyone has tragedy in their life in one form or another. I believe that if someone who expresses their pain on the show happens to win, that has nothing to do with why they won. There is a difference between being a victim and owning the experience to try to make a difference due to to one’s experience for the rest of the world.

    I have not seen anything on the next season, but I pray there will be one. I think the scariest thought is that I will never have a chance to play. I hope everyone will join in praising a man who is offering a dream come true for average people. We want him to feel good about sharing, not feel judged, criticized, or ridiculed. I only hope the winner will “pay it forward” to continue a spread of goodness through a very tough world.

    God bless,

    Comment by Lail Ann Haynes -

  6. Dear Mark,
    I caught an episode of your new reality series and really enjoyed the fresh spin you gave to a somewhat stagnant genre. Are you open to Canadian contestants? If so, I’m interested.

    Comment by H. D. Nelson -

  7. Gotta love it when someone who is not the ‘A’ type personality, is not a jock, and does not make a great first impression but hosts a show and looks for just that type of person.

    Five years ago I gave up everything and took my own great chance. I came to this country with my daughter and pregnant wife. All we had was 6 suitcases, 4 trunks, and $400 in cash. Thanks to my very own benefactor, Drayton McLane (owner of the Astro’s), I now have a stable, peaceful, and prosperous life in this great country. All he gave me was an opportunity, stood by his word when the markets crashed, and gave me a second chance when I needed it most. For that I will always be in his debt. For what he did for me, I feel like a million bucks already.

    I understood that ‘stupid’ meant crazy and ‘stupid stupid’ meant really stupid. Mark, why couldn’t you. If you are half the man you say you are you will invite the man back.

    First impressions can fool you but 2nd chances is what life is all about!


    Comment by NealD -

  8. Mark, you are the worst part of your show! Since when does being rich exempt one from showing humility, grace, or acting respectful towards others? Maybe this makes for riveting reality TV, but listening to your lectures as you go on and on about the real world is like having my teeth drilled without novocaine.

    Comment by Jane Wright -

  9. Out of the box puzzle’s, my favorite! Nothing is more satisfying than finding an out of the box solution for a problem when no one else does. To be that type of person you have to be just like described above, “competitiveness and the wiliness to stand out”, I would know. Some might say it is a little lonely, but I don’t think so. I have never had a job where my peers were my age, they were allways older. Sometimes this has been because I go after when I want to do and othertimes it has been luck. But you can never count on luck. those who count on luck are doomed to always hope when they should worry, worry when they should hope and never have a backup plan. I bet we will see those who win are those who aren’t afraid to get the job done. For example that means if I need to come into work at 3am to run wires to get the job done, then I am not too proud and get it done. If you are lazy other people will step over you. Some ideas for what to do with $1000 by those who “won” that challage I bet are:
    – Someone who knows realestate rents a helicopter to present the local land and what they could do with it. Riding in a helicopter when you are expecting powerpoint always makes a statment.
    – Someone makes a 10 minute video presentation, rents a nice convertable and projector, drives to a building with a large blank wall and shows his presentation on the side of the building 20 feet tall. Not only are you giving a presentation to him, but to everyone.

    These are the fun type of ideas that make one stand out, not powerpoint.

    Don’t get me wrong, the million would be great to have, but showing what you can do would be why I would go. With sixteen people there is a chance I might not win. If I wanted to win a million dollars I could try out for any number of reality/game shows, but now this would be fun just to do. You always must have a backup. By the time they do casting for the second season the first one will probably be hot on people’s minds and they will get a few million random be on TV seekers. Maybe I could find my way in by becoming a creative consultant and come up with some challenges myself and get paid for doing it. Now there is thinking out of the box.

    -Benjamin Meyer

    Comment by Benjamin Meyer -

  10. Dear Mark,

    I have lived through so many challenges in life that I never thought I would survive — but I did! I came out a stronger, more vital, happier, more productive — and more importantly — a new outlook on life! I am now ready for a new challenge. Please let me know when you are accepting audition videos for the next season of “The Benefactor”. Thank you for your time and courtesy.

    Star Christian

    Comment by Star Christian -

  11. Dear Mark,

    I just wanted to let you know you can be the first (as you should be, your greatness) to view my “Pre-audition” Audition Tape for next season’s “The Benefactor”! I auditioned for the Dallas Maverick last year and I was chosen to be in the documentary of those auditions for HDTV. Do “firsties” count with regards to Audition Tapes? Oh yeah, did I mention how much I love the Mavericks? Also, you are the best owner of any team anywhere in the universe. I personally know Shella Sattler and many other famous people. Oh, whoops, please excuse me — I must go scrape off some of the accumulation of brown stuff oozing from my nose! See ya’ soon!

    Your best new famous friend,

    Star Christian

    Comment by Star Christian -

  12. When I found out about this I was so thankful. I believe that if people only had a chance, they could do great things. Anyone can do anything with hard work and sometimes there comes along a great person who wants to help those people. So thank you Mark for helping someone. I would love to get involved if you do this again. We can all do something for someone everyday and we all should!

    Comment by stephanie -

  13. How to apply for the next season on the Benefactor. Would like to apply.

    Jerrie Jones
    Sista’s Exchange

    Comment by Jerrie Jones -

  14. The Benefactor will be a great success. It is nice to know that you are being yourself and not trying to be like anyone else in putting this together. I honestly believe this will top all shows. Your ideals and thoughts will be beneficial to all. It is not about how much money you have but have much heart you put in it and that means a lot! GOOD LUCK!


    Comment by Lannette Strange -

  15. Enjoyed the promo, looking forward to the show this fall. Looks like it will be a lot of fun, and educational too.

    Glad to see that reality shows are evolving for the better! Thanks Mark!

    Comment by Val -

  16. Ok, we agree on one issue. The other …by any means necessary… is not (I don’t think) the thrust of this show. Let the Apprentice (you may know of whom I speak) keep that. Very shrewd, ethical and responsible behavior can go a long way. Fouls and dirty plays are not acceptable in b-ball and neither should it be acceptable in The Benefactor. Maybe as a society we have lied and cheated so much to advance a cause or situation we think of it as “fair play.” I don’t think these are the conditions Mark Cuban will release 1m of his own money. He wants the refs to be ethical in dealing with his Mavericks and I think he wants his contestants to be ethical in dealing with him and each other. Let’s leave lying and such to the politicians.

    Comment by Salmon -

  17. The role of benefactor in this society will awaken honesty in assessing individual character and ability of people. I hope the real deserving candidate is accordingly rewarded. People with saddest story should not be used to gain advantage over qualified candidates. Above all, Mr.Mark Cuban is a straight shooter and very smart not to be fooled with fake ideas. The promo explains it.
    Whatever happens, I want to see this program so bad to understand people more.
    Apprentice by Donald Trump was just OK and not great. The fact that benefactor is the next generation of reality program is very pleasing to hear. I enjoy to critique TV program from a layman’s perspective.


    Comment by lafedur -

  18. first i was was not suggesting he gives it to the most needy soul. but truly give it to those who did anything to win, “the best player”. i am so against mark just feeling bad for someone cause they are down and out! thats what the red cross is you stated and mark stated many times “this is a game” so in a game you do anything to beat your compitition, so why does it sound like mark is putting down a contestant for making themselve out to be someone they are not. after all he did say what would you do for the million? and this is just seems like it was one players strategy. if he just gives it to the sadest story that would be so boring. he should give it to the most cut throat person who did what ever it takes and knocked people over in the mean time.

    Comment by marcus jenson -

  19. It seems to me that this venture is billed as a “game” from the onset. I do believe that there may be very deserving and sad stories that come with some or maybe all of the contestants. But to seek out the contestant with the saddest story is not what this show is about. Let Oprah handle that contingency. This show is about challenging oneself no matter what station you are in life. The goal is to obtain 1mm and it seems like Mark is looking for those to use the most shrewd, ethical and responsible means to do so. My money is on him to give us an entertaining and interesting conclusion to this show. Game on!

    Comment by salmon -

  20. Mark i’ve read all your applications and watched your promos and all of them suggest that your trying to find the person who will do anything to win the million.but now i feel like you say one thing and do your last blog,you said you were glad you visited the contestants homes and families because you found out people were not who said they were! so if they lied a little dosent that fall within the guidlines you formed saying “what would you do for a million” so here is where you contradict yourself are you giving the most “deserving in need person” the money or are you giving it to the person who played the best game and did what ever it takes to win. if you show ends with you giving the sadest case the money then that will be so disappointing to watch. stick to the story-line “what would you do for a million dollars!

    Comment by marcus jenson -

  21. Mark,
    Blogging the Benefactor info is a great way of keeping up with what’s out there as far as the “real” information. It was interesting to know that you had to make the decision on your own with no consultation. From what I have read on your blog you seem to be much more than intuitive, you do the necessary homework to support your decisions. I have no doubt that you have chosen the correct person to pass on some of your wealth. Would the winner be allowed to get financial advice from you? If the winner asked for assistance in making the most of what I would consider an investment in them would that be a part of the “game.” Maybe I am thinking out loud. I know this may not have been the premise of the show but what about adding some financial planning as a way of continuity of care for the new millionaire? The winner does not have to take the advice, but it should be offered. Similar to what I believe should happen in the NBA and other sports venues. Many times people are thrust into fame and fortune without the guidance they need to become all around successful in the financial aspects of life as they are in the “game.” It could pan out to be similar to having a “Coach for Financial Life Success” after a life altering event like this. There are so many people out there that may try to do nothing for the winner but line their own pockets with fees and such for bad advice. I also believe it would be a nice idea the go back to the winner a year later to see what accomplishments (if any) they have made as a result of acquired new wealth. If the person wanted to go back to the job they had, fine. Let them go back because they like what they are doing not because they are broke!! Just a thought.


    Comment by salmon -

  22. Hey Mark,
    I noticed that the “house” The Benefactor was filmed in is up for sale throught he DuPont registry. It’s listed at $2.5 million which makes me wonder how much money you are going to make off of it.

    If you are making a profit, another smart move by Mr. Cuban. If you don’t make a profit then I’m sure the show itself will bring in plenty.

    Can’t wait to see the show.

    Comment by Tony -

  23. You’ve got us all excited about it… we are just all waiting to see this… hopefully the right person won, but everything happens for a reason… If they blow the money they did on their own FREE will and your hands are clean. Hopefully they do the smart thing!

    Comment by Rachelle -

  24. hey mark. this show sounds great. like i said before, i cant wait to watch it…im such a sucker for reality tv (well 75% of the shows).

    as a soon to be college grad, i would really like to get some help from you and your opinions on what makes a interview. you talk about interviews, personality, shining and standing out from the crowd, and business strategies all the time. im just wondering what a person has/does/says during an interview to make them get the job versus the next person in.

    obviously it cannot just be based on academic credentials…so what else should a young professional looking for their first “REAL” job know? got any advice or tips???

    mffl dffl!

    Comment by cali -

  25. I really am looking forward to this program , I hope to see that some truly deserving person with a greater plan for their life wins. I am always afraid to get my hopes up on the “reality shows”. Nothing like my reality. Hope I can sign up for the next one. I am a real person who would like to be afforded the opportunity to work for a noble cause and not the paycheck it takes to live. Hope thats the kind of person you get.

    Comment by Della Baker -

  26. this blog is great marketing for the benefactor. I may just watch it now.

    to satisfy my personal curiosity, what did the people do in 3 hours to not waste your time?

    Comment by Ralph Lee -

  27. MC:

    Missed you at the Dallas auditions, so I figured I might as well gear up for season 2. Feel free to check out my audition video at…

    “Game On!”

    Comment by Ap -

  28. I guess that since the spot came on during last night’s game and since Cuban is an NBA owner… such a stretch could justify the topic shifting to the game itself… but I was under the impression that the man preferred the comments to pertain directly to the post to which they are attached.

    I’m not playing cop… i’m just babbling nonsensically.

    I saw the first half (and ugliest half ever) and because of that I caught the promo spot. I decided to check here and sure enough Cuban has more juicy tid bits.

    Cuban has inspired me in several ways… and the challenges he mentions continue that trend. He elicits a profound introspection… who are you? What would you do if given the same opportunity with $1k, 24hrs and a 15 min presentation?

    I asked the same question on my blog since I think it’s a huge challenge for all to cut to the quick of who we are. Of course, I give credit where credit is due.

    Comment by Michael Gavlak -

  29. The Benefactor has small problem that is shared with Trump’s show – since you make all the decisions, who’s to say that you didn’t pick the person on day one, and them conform the challenges and your decisions to lead to that person winning?

    Likewise, you could be keeping people on not because they have any chance of winning, but because you know they make good television, which will keep viewers coming back. As bad as Sam and Omarosa were, they helped the ratings.

    I plan on watching because you are involved, and I like the creative aspect of your challengers. I hope to see more “out of the box” results than the mostly bland work from the Trump crew.

    Comment by Dylan Greene -

  30. Thanks for posting this feedback.
    Glad to see the integrity behind the scenes.
    Hope you do a Bene2. I love to play!!!!

    Comment by cheri -

  31. My opinion is that all reality shows on tv are waste of time.But as far The Benefactor is concern,i am looking forward to watch it because you Mark.I am expecting The Benefactor to be original,contraversial,real and unique tv experience.

    Comment by Taipan -

  32. looking forward to something different on tv, like this..

    Comment by brian -

  33. Besides what I’ve read on your blog Mark, when is the Benefactor going to air on TV? From what I’ve read here it sounds like a great concept and something that I would enjoy watching.

    Comment by Christian Dorr -

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