10 Secrets of Filming Reality TV Shows

The Pay May Be Pitiful
Bethenny Frankel from "The Real Housewives of New York" launches Skinnygirl Candy at Dylan's Candy Bar Union Square on Jan. 26, 2016. Frankel's one of the few reality show stars who's also a very successful businesswoman. Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for Skinnygirl Candy

Think you'll be able to rake in the big bucks if you're lucky enough to land on a reality show? Sometimes. The winner of "The Biggest Loser" gets $250,000, while the last one standing on "Survivor" gets a cool $1 million. According to a 2016 article in "Business Insider," finalists on broadcast competitions (like the ones we just mentioned) earn $50,000 to $1 million per season, while non-finalists take in $15,000 to $35,000. Not too shabby.

But when you're talking cable television, the figures plummet. If you're a bit player on a cable reality show, you could earn $1,500 to $3,000 per episode or absolutely nothing, except to have your expenses covered. Celebrity judges and hosts are another story and may be paid in the millions [source: Nededog].

And just in case you do manage parlay your TV time into some real cash with side projects or endorsement deals (Bethenny Frankel from "Real Housewives of New York" created Skinnygirl Cocktails and sold it for $100 million) you may find that your contract requires you to share your profits with the show's production company or network [source: Etter].