John de Mol is a leading television producer and impresario. He’s the creator of numerous programs, including the popular “Big Brother” reality series. Johannes Hendrikus Hubert de Mol, known as John, was born on April 24, 1955 in The Hague in the Netherlands. His media career started in small radio stations and local television.
In 1976, he married Willeke Alberti, a Dutch singer and actress. The couple had one son, Johnny. They divorced four years later. De Mol then began a relationship with Marga Scheide of girl group Luv. De Mol became a television producer. In 1979 he created his first company, John de Mol Produkties. He developed numerous programs for both state and private television in the Netherlands. In 1990, de Mol had his first major hit with Love Letters, which was also successfully exported to Germany.
In 1994, de Mol merged his production company with that of another Dutch television tycoon, Joop van den Ende. The result was Endemol, which would expand to 25 nations. De Mol was able to maintain creative freedom within Endemol. In 1999, he created a revolutionary approach to reality programming with the “Big Brother” format.
Taking its name from the dictator in George Orwell’s novel 1984, the program shows the lives of contestants locked up together in the same house for about three months. "Big Brother" turned the daily lives of normal people into mass entertainment. The reality show concept attracted both praise and criticism. Copied in more than 40 nations, it changed the way people thought about television programming.
In 2000, Spanish company Telefónica, one of the world’s leading global telecommunications concerns, bought Endemol for 5.5 billion euros. De Mol stayed on as creative director. In 2001, he created a new show called Deal or No Deal which also met with widespread success. In “Deal or No Deal,” contestants tried to guess the grand prize hidden among many lesser prizes in boxes.
In 2005, he founded a new television channel called Talpa TV and acquired the rights to broadcast Dutch league soccer matches. The name “Talpa” was a play on his own name -- talpa means mole in Latin; mol is the Dutch word for the animal. The name later changed to Tien and the company was sold to Luxembourg company RTL. In 2007, de Mol bought his company back, paying 2.63 billion euros. He headed the takeover group that included Italian company Mediaset and American investment bank Goldman Sachs.
His latest project, known as Talpa Creative, debuted in Los Angeles in June 2008. The project would give anyone who came up with a new idea for a reality series a cash prize of $50,000. De Mol’s wealth is currently estimated at over $2 billion dollars.