Mark Burnett was born on July 17, 1960 in the east end of London, England. He was the only child of two Ford Motors factory workers. He was raised in London, and later moved in Dagenham, a small town in Essex. At the age of seventeen, he enlisted in the British Army. He later became a Section Commander of the infamous Parachute Regiment and fought in Northern Ireland and Falkland Islands, where many of his fellow soldiers died in the advance on Port Stanley.
In October of 1982, he decided to leave Britain for the United States of America. His original plan was to fly to Los Angeles, then take a flight south to Central America where he could work for the British Special Air Service as a military advisor. At that time, Central America was in great turmoil. In order not to make his mother worry about his intention, he told her that he was just going to pick up a security job in Los Angeles.
By the time the plane landed in America, he decided not to go to Central America, but to stay in Los Angeles to chase the American Dream instead. Upon his arrival, he met up with a friend who had also immigrated from Britain a few years earlier and was working as a chauffeur. His friend told him that he had heard of a live-in nanny job in Beverly Hills and that the interview was on that night. Mark immediately grabbed at the opportunity, eventhough he knew nothing of what a nanny or even a babysitter was like. His military background paid off, because the family realized the advantage of hiring him as a nanny and a bodyguard at the same time.
After a year of working for the Jaeger family, he moved on to another family in Malibu, taking care of two boys for $250 a week. He was eventually given a position in the insurance office owned by Burt, the father of the two boys.
Two years later, Mark and his girlfriend, Kymberly, decided to rent a portion of a fence at Venice Beach and sell T-shirts for $18 each during weekends. After making his fortune from selling shirts, he left his insurance job and started a credit card marketing business.
On February 21, 1991, he was able to read an article in the newspaper written by Jon Markman about a French adventure competition called the Raid Gauloises. With four other members, he joined the Raid and called his team American Pride. Aside from adventure, he saw a business opportunity in the competition. He told himself that he would bring a similar race to America, and the rest was history.
He had created and produced several award-winning reality competition programs and TV shows like Eco-Challenge, Combat Missions, and Survivor. His entrepreneurial spirit has helped pioneer the success of the reality 'unscripted' drama series and bring it to mainstream television.
He currently resides in Los Angeles, California.