Win Mark Cuban's Money

If Donald Trump, Ozzy Osbourne, and Anna Nicole Smith can do it -- why not Mark Cuban? Why not, indeed. Throwing his billionaire hat into the reality television ring, Cuban will team up with Disney's (NYSE: DIS  ) ABC to air The Benefactor later this year.

We've seen folks survive 39 days on a remote island, tap lifelines in air-conditioned comfort, and down pig uterus smoothies to win big money and great shame on primetime television. Why not grovel with Cuban for a shot at a cool $1 million?

How the contestants will go about winning Cuban's money remains to be seen. We do know that applicants will be narrowed to 30 finalists and then the game will be afoot. But, why Cuban?

His claim to billions was launching Broadcast.com, or more precisely, selling out (then cashing out) to Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO  ) for billions just before the dot-com bubble burst. He's bought himself some fancy toys along the way, like, say, the NBA's Dallas Mavericks.

Cuban is charismatic, colorful, and temperamental -- a potent elixir when stirred in front of home viewers. Through it all, he has demonstrated an uncanny knack for landing on his feet. Two years ago, upset at how a Mavericks game was refereed, he publicly informed the league's head of officiating that he wouldn't hire him to manage a Dairy Queen.

The remarks created a Blizzard of publicity for Cuban when Berkshire Hathaway's (NYSE: BRK.A  ) Dairy Queen blasted him for the remark. Both sides settled in a win-win, publicity-pimping stunt that had Cuban working one day at the local DQ.

The bigger question may be whether Cuban can trump Trump? The Donald's The Apprentice is a brilliant show in just about every way, but it's funny to see him flaunting opulence and edgy buzzwords when his Trump Hotels and Casinos (NYSE: DJT  ) trades for $2.50 a share. Teaming up with Credit Suisse (NYSE: CSR  ) to recapitalize the company is a good start, but a better move might be a field trip to our Living Below Your Means discussion board.

Or, better yet, have Trump Hotels and Casinos apply to be a contestant on The Benefactor. You couldn't buy that kind of publicity -- or beg for it either.

Has reality television gone too far? Where do you draw the line? If everyone has their 15 minutes of fame, will we have enough to go around? Or will it be time to bring in the egg-timers? All this and more in the -- in the Reality Television discussion board. Only on Fool.com.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz will admit that he's hooked on reality TV -- only in moderation and knowing full well that much of it is staged. He does own shares in Disney.


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