In Depth

The Populist: Mike Fleiss

Founder, Next Entertainment

Mike Fleiss is best known as the creator of “The Bachelor,” easily the most ripped-off format in modern reality TV history. But even before he reinvented the idea of the dating show, Mr. Fleiss was helping to pioneer the unscripted business.

TVWeek’s Real Power

Working with another member of the Real Power 15, Mike Darnell, Mr. Fleiss produced headline-grabbing specials such as “Breaking the Magician’s Code” and “Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?” The latter drew harsh notices from critics—and established Mr. Fleiss as a renegade who knew what viewers wanted to see.

It was the success of “The Bachelor,” and its spinoff “The Bachelorette,” that helped Mr. Fleiss become one of the most prolific reality producers during the early part of the decade. Not every show worked—R.I.P., “The WB’s Superstar USA” and “The Starlet”—but the strength of “The Bachelor” franchise and other shows (“High School Reunion”) allowed Mr. Fleiss to build Next into a major studio and a cornerstone of Warner Horizon Television’s unscripted business.

Over the last few years, Mr. Fleiss has launched a film career with pictures such as the “Hostel” franchise and “Poseidon.” But in recent months he’s started gearing up a slew of new shows, including TV Land’s “The Cougar” and several projects that have yet to be announced.

Dream collaboration: Mark Burnett.