Robert L. Johnson has achieved a level of success few dealmakers can claim. Over the last 37 years, Johnson has built thriving companies in a wide array of industries, including media, real estate and private equity. Along the way, he has partnered with some of the best-known business leaders in the country, including cable TV visionary John Malone (TCI and Liberty Media Group (Nasdaq: LMCA) and private equity powerhouse David Rubenstein of the Carlyle Group LP (Nasdaq: CG). And Johnson has taken two companies public: Black Entertainment Television (BET), and RLJ Lodging Trust (NYSE: RLJ).

Johnson has always been a pioneer. BET, his brainchild, was the first TV network to focus on the African American audience. A decade after taking BET public, he sold it to Viacom for $3 billion and became the country’s first black billionaire.

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