MIPCOM 2012: 'Survivor' Producer Mark Burnett on Why He Can't Stand Back-Stabbers

Mark Burnett
Stephen Lovekin/Getty Images

Burnett is the first reality producer to oversee the Emmy Awards telecast.

The uber-producer may seek out treacherous people as characters for his hit reality TV shows, but he won't have them in his own workplace.

CANNES – For a TV producer who introduced a Survivor-style scorched-earth mindset into the modern office culture, Mark Burnett is surprisingly averse to back-stabbers in the next cubicle.

The uber-producer on Monday told a MIPCOM audience during a media mastermind keynote address that his One Three Media operation has a “no-asshole policy” against treacherous co-workers that he learned from movie executive Jeffrey Katzenberg.

“If I’m in a lunch, and someone starts talking about a friend of mine, and say they’re an asshole, I’ll say stop. You can have an opinion, but you cannot say this in front of me,” Burnett said.

“I have to leave, or change the subject,” he added.

Burnett said a toxic workplace is the last thing you need to create and produce elusive TV hits like The Voice and The Apprentice.

“The thing we all need to do a crack job and contribute to great shows is energy,” he argued.

And good energy at that.

“You think of a day when you have an unresolved, emotional disconnect for stupid reasons with a loved one or a co-worker and the team is likely feeling hurt from that,” Burnett warned.

Here the Survivor executive producer insisted his team was key to his success as Burnett could never churn out primetime hits on his own.

Eschewing negative energy in the workplace also has the TV producer never showing his team he may be scared for the fate of his shows, or his company.

“I’m scared all the time, but you have no right to show that,” he said during his Grand Auditorium address in the Palais.

Leaders should instead ease fears and preach optimism.

“Even if you’re not going to be okay, at least the leader should say you’re going to be okay, and show a little confidence,” Burnett added.