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Tony Robbins says new show 'Breakthrough' can't fail

July 23, 2010 | 10:46 pm

Breakthrough_With_Tony_Robbins Tony Robbins doesn't care if you chuckle at his infomercials or if you recognize him by his big head or his perfect pearly whites. Just don't call him "Mr. Positive Thinking" or even "Mr. Motivational."

"I don't believe in positive thinking," Robbins said. "I believe in confronting what's real." He says that if you have to put a label on him, he's more of "The 'Why?' Guy." He said he helps people figure out "why" they're standing in their own way and not achieving their dreams, and then it's just a matter of putting together an action plan to get it done.

His fans are legion. Tennis great Serena Williams, "Survivor" creator Mark Burnett and actor Hugh Jackman are just a few of the bold-faced names that offer up testimonials for the giant of a man (he's 6 feet 7) who travels the globe for seminars coaxing attendees to "unleash the power" within. During a media conference call on the eve of his new show, Robbins said more than four million people have attended his seminars over the years, and that he has sold more than 50 million books, tapes and CDs. He also has more than 1.7 million followers on Twitter. He'll find out Tuesday how many of those followers -- and curious newcomers -- will follow him over to Tuesday night, when NBC debuts the first of a six-part TV special, "Breakthrough With Tony Robbins."

Each week on "Breakthrough," Robbins meets up with someone facing a crisis and tries to guide them through to the other side. In the first two episodes, he encounters a couple who are on the verge of financial collapse, and a pair of newlyweds facing an almost unbelievable tragedy: Just hours after their destination wedding in Mexico, the groom injured himself while jumping into the pool to swim over to his new bride, and now faces life as a paraplegic.

During a media conference call, Robbins said that although he had rejected numerous TV show offers, the financial crisis convinced him to finally take the plunge: "When I saw [the financial slide in] 2008 come and grab people the way that it did, I thought 'I’d like to create some contrast for people' that can show them some role models [who are] doing things that are much more difficult than what they are facing. And then hopefully that would inspire them to say 'Dammit ... I can still make the shift in my own life as well.' "

Robbins said he wants audiences at home to see these extreme examples of distress on "Breakthrough," and learn lessons they can apply to their own lives. The man who thought he would never get out of his wheelchair again ends up, among other things, skydiving.

So, what do you think? Will you be tuning in for Tony Robbins? If you could be on the show, what's one thing you'd like to change about your life?

Keep reading for more highlights from the media call, including Robbins explaining why it's impossible for his new show to fail:

--Robbins said he had been approached with TV ideas many times over the last 15 years, but he rejected them all because they were either too labor intensive -- he travels constantly for his international seminars and other business ventures -- or they all had to do with a moment of humiliation, like "voting someone off the island" and he said he would not do that. He finally agreed to pair up with the producers of "The Biggest Loser" because he was believes "Breakthrough" will echo his life's work -- inspiring people.

--What is a "breakthrough": "When I talk about a breakthrough, it’s a moment in time when suddenly the impossible becomes possible to a person. It’s an opening. And my job is to create that opening." In the case of the man in the wheelchair, that opening was "to be able to get this man to realize his life is not over." He later added: "What I’m showing them is 'You cannot control the outside world.' That is obvious, nobody can. But you sure as hell can take control of the inside world and when you do that, life changes. That is the essence of what we’re really showing."

--What is the common denominator of people chosen to be on the show: People who are in a situation of "extreme stress where the outside seems to be controlling things. Life seems to crush you but ... 'get control, you are not made by that moment' is my message."

--He said he is not just being coy when he insists that he doesn't motivate people -- he gets people to motivate themselves. "I see myself as kind of like the wizard, the focus is on Dorothy. I want people to see Dorothy.... My hope is that it’ll be a trigger for people to remember what is possible. And it’ll give dignity to the people that people wouldn’t normally look at" and inspire everyone to have more passion for others, especially those who have been victims of circumstances beyond their control.

--Why he's not "Mr. Positive Thinking": 'Truthfully, I don’t believe in positive thinking. I don’t believe you should go to your garden and chant 'There are no weeds' ... and do some stupid affirmation.... I’m more a strategist.... If you want to know what I am, I think of myself as the 'Why?' guy.... I want to find out what drives somebody ...You are motivated to do certain things, you're just not motivated to do things you [need to do to achieve your goals.] ... so I want to know 'why.' And once I know 'why', then it's 'How? How do we move to the next level?' So my life is really coaching.... I help people close the gap between where they are, and where hey want to be."

--Why he doesn't regret doing infomercials, even though he makes fun of them too: "I don’t regret them because they allowed me to reach a mass audience. And President Clinton became a client because of them. I mean doors were opened that I couldn’t have opened in any other way.... Unfortunately in the infomercial frame there is so much garbage there that there is some guilt by association to some extent."

--Why it's impossible for his new show to fail: "There is certainly that risk ... someone asked me, 'What if the shows fails?' and I said 'I can’t fail because I got my outcome.' My outcome was to do things I was proud of, help some families that nobody else was able to help. And have people be inspired who see it. And through the test (screenings) that we’ve done, people overwhelmingly are moved tears to laughter and so forth about these shows."

-- Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Photo: Tony Robbins

Credit: NBC