Jeff Zucker is the former President and CEO of NBCUniversal.
Jeff Zucker began his career in television as a researcher at NBC Sports. A year later he joined the Today Show, where he made such an impression that in December 1991, at the tender age of 26, he was promoted to executive producer. Zucker's nine-year stint at Today earned him billing as the network's golden boy as the show became a ratings and ad revenue juggernaut, responsible for generating more than $300 million a year for NBC. Zucker moved up the ladder in 2000 when he replaced Garth Ancier as the President of NBC Entertainment, and was handed responsibility for the programming lineup for the then-dominant network.
Zucker's efforts as chief programmer yielded decidedly mixed results: Although he managed to finagle a couple of extra seasons out of successful shows that preceded him like Friends, and had some success with early reality shows like Fear Factor and The Apprentice, he failed to generate the kind of big hits that had made NBC such a powerhouse in the late '90s, like Seinfeld, Will & Grace, and ER. By 2004, NBC had slipped from first to last in the primetime ratings race, a huge embarrassment for the former "Must See TV" powerhouse. Despite fledgling ratings, Zucker continued to climb up the corporate ladder, achieving Presidential status in 2007. However, the straw the broke the camel's back was the notorious 2010 Jay Leno-Conan O'Brien debacle—pundits claimed that Zucker handled the situation so poorly that he was a "case study of the most destructive media executive ever to exist." In 2010, he was paid between $30-$40 million to break his contact, leaving his future prospects somewhat limited. [Image via Getty]