This story appears in TheWrap's EmmyWrap Reality Issue.
You can't win seven Emmys in a row, and nine out of 10, without ruffling a few feathers.
After "The Amazing Race" had won every Emmy handed out for Outstanding Reality-Competition Program from the category's introduction in 2003 through 2009, "Survivor" host Jeff Probst suggested that the show should take itself out of the competition in future years, the way that Candice Bergen and Oprah Winfrey had done in other categories.
"It's unlikely," countered "Race" co-creator Bertram van Munster at the time.The following year, "The Apprentice" and "The Celebrity Apprentice" host Donald Trump went several steps further, charging that the Emmys had lost credibility because they kept giving the reality-competition award to "Race" instead of Trump's show (which at that point hadn't even been nominated in five years).
"It's a joke," he said. "If the Emmys want their ratings back, they have to pick shows that deserve it."
Since then, "The Amazing Race" has won twice more, while four subsequent seasons of both "Apprentice" shows have passed without nominations.
Apart from a 2010 Emmy victory for "Top Chef," nobody has made it to the podium in the top reality-competition category except for van Munster, Elise Doganieri, their executive-producing partner Jerry Bruckheimer and the rest of the "Race" team.
"When we first sold the show, Emmy wasn't even on the radar," said Doganieri. "It came as a huge shock."
"Every time has been a big shock," insisted van Munster. "Every time we are incredibly taken by the whole thing, and it's good for the entire team. And I think it's good for the business, too, because I do think we have been able to set a very high standard in the genre. And it's a lot of fun to win when you do that."
In other words, they're not going to apologize for all that shiny hardware and they're not going to take themselves out of the amazing Emmy race. "When we have new people come to work for us after working on other shows, they say, 'This is the hardest show on television to produce,'" said Doganieri.
"When we come back from shooting 12 episodes in three-and-a-half weeks around the world, we're walking zombies. And when we won the Emmy for that, we started to realize that people get what we really do."