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Billionaire Tilman Fertitta's definition of success has nothing to do with money

Tilman Fertitta stars in CNBC's "Billion Dollar Buyer"
Mike Windle/NBC | Getty Images
Tilman Fertitta stars in CNBC's "Billion Dollar Buyer"

Tilman Fertitta built a hospitality empire starting with a $6,000 loan.

Today, the 59-year-old CEO and sole shareholder of Landry's — the Houston-based restaurant and entertainment company that owns more than 500 properties and 40 brands of restaurants, including Bubba Gump Shrimp Co. and Morton's The Steakhouse — is worth nearly $3 billion.

But when it comes to defining success, the self-made billionaire says wealth has nothing to do with it.

"Success to me is anybody who does something better than somebody else," Fertitta tells CNBC.

The skill or craft is irrelevant, he says. "I don't care what business it is. I have the greatest respect in the world for that guy that can take an engine apart of a car and put it back together, or the house painter that can paint a perfect line, or the cameraman who can shoot the best shot," he says.

"We're all talented in our own ways — just some of us make more money than others. That's all."

The host of CNBC's "Billion Dollar Buyer" isn't the only billionaire whose definition of success has nothing to do with money.

Richard Branson measures success by how happy he is.

"Too many people measure how successful they are by how much money they make or the people that they associate with," the Virgin Group founder and chairman writes on LinkedIn. "In my opinion, true success should be measured by how happy you are."

Happiness isn't just a metric to determine Branson's level of success — it's also the key to it, he says: "Most people would assume my business success, and the wealth that comes with it, have brought me happiness. But I know I am successful, wealthy and connected because I am happy."

"Billion Dollar Buyer" airs Tuesdays at 10:00 PM ET.