Billion Dollar Buyer

Texas billionaire poised to become reality TV's next big star

Texas billionaire poised to become reality TV's next big star

Tilman Fertitta, September 2012, head shot
Tilman Fertitta stars in Billion Dollar Buyer, premiering March 22.  Courtesy Photo

One high-profile Texas billionaire is on his way to reality TV fame. Tilman Fertitta will star in CNBC's new original primetime series, Billion Dollar Buyer, premiering March 22 at 9 pm. 

"I'm excited about the opportunity to work with CNBC on this dynamic business show," Fertitta told CultureMap via email.

The Landry's Inc. chairman, CEO, and sole shareholder continued, "I started out as a young entrepreneur, and I'm really eager to connect with a whole new generation of young and promising startups from across the country. I look forward to sharing the lessons I've learned from building a business from the ground up into a global company." 

As CNBC describes it, the "new reality show introduces small businesses from across the nation to Fertitta, one of America’s most successful businessmen and billionaire hospitality mogul, giving promising startups the opportunity of a lifetime."

The hospitality-related companies that Fertitta will examine run the gamut from food and drink for his restaurants and casinos to linens and spa products for his hotels. He will visit two businesses per hour-long episode, during which he will sample the offerings, meet the owners, and evaluate their compatibility with Landry's Inc. According to a news release, "In the end, he’ll decide whether to place a transformative purchase order with one of the companies, both, or neither."

With an annual supply spend of $2 billion, his buy could be monumental. 

Houston-based Fertitta has long been cozy with the concept of some sort of reality show. In 2003, he starred in a 48 Hours segment called "Rich Kids: The Fertitta Family." And rumors abounded in years past that he was exploring opportunities for his own program.

Of this project, he explains, "First and foremost, I'm a businessman, and when approached by CNBC — a top-rated business network — it seemed like an ideal fit."

Fertitta follows in the reality TV footsteps of billionaire businessman Donald Trump, who inadvertently turned his reality show, The Apprentice, into a savvy election tool. Perhaps our next news on Fertitta will be a presidential bid. Not.