Tony Robbins
Photo: Courtesy of NBC
Kari Forsee: Can you just tell me a little bit about the inspiration behind Breakthrough?

Tony Robbins: Well, I've been working with 50 million people over the years—4 million people at live seminars in over 100 countries. And over that time, I've seen just about every kind of challenge you can imagine, but two years ago, in 2008 when the financial crisis hit, I just saw that level of pain magnified because people just started feeling overwhelmed. Right now the polls are showing we're the first generation of Americans to think that our future for ourselves—the quality of our life for ourselves and our kids—is going to be worse in the future than it is today. I decided that I'm reaching a lot of people—4 million people in seminars is wonderful—but, you know, in one week of primetime television, I can at least expose 4 million people to kind of a pathway to turn their lives around.

I haven't done it in the past, based on time, and I haven't done it because most of the shows brought to me over 15 years were always kind of "vote people off the island" shows, and I know they're popular, but I thought, "We don't need more humiliation. We need some inspiration." But have it be raw and real, you know? Not something constructed, and so I got the right partners. The people from The Biggest Loser, Reveille, are my partners, and then the people from Extreme Home Makeover as my other partners, so I have people who have pure intent and who really want to honor people. That's where it started, and then, once we conceived the show, [we were] saying, "How do we take really good people—not people who just want to be on television—but people who get nominated, who got a raw deal, where life has really kind of crushed them? And let's give them a second chance, and let's show them how they can literally change their entire lives in 30 days, and let's capture the entire journey.