Five seasons in, Phil Keoghan has big plans for his CBS competition show, Tough as Nails, which highlights and honors everyday workers in America. If he had his way, he would put celebrities to the ultimate test.
“Absolutely,” Keoghan told ET’s Denny Directo about the potential for a celebrity edition.
Season 5 of Tough as Nails will bring back The Gauntlet, which takes place at the end of the competition with the final three contestants. The longtime CBS host, who also leads The Amazing Race, shared his pitch for what a star-filled edition might look like.
“We have a thing called The Gauntlet on Tough as Nails. And it is, essentially, where we get all the challenges from the whole season and we have our final three run through The Gauntlet,” Keoghan explained. “It is literally the most brutal physical challenge on any reality show, I guarantee you.”
“We take some celebrities who are in their trailers right now sitting comfortably and we say, ‘Get out of your trailer! Mess up your pedicure and your manicure and we’re going to run you through The Gauntlet,'” he continued. “And they will run it for a charity. The money goes to charity. Get these celebrities out of their Star Wagons!”
Filming for the current season, which is midway through its run on CBS, moved production out of Los Angeles for the first time and set up shop in the Canadian city of Hamilton, Ontario, known as a steel town.
“It’s like Top Gun. I’m telling you, the best of the best. Not just in America, but in North America,” Keoghan said of the contestants this year.
The 56-year-old said Tough as Nails largely reminds him of his family’s blue-collar roots, citing his grandfather, who was a mechanic and left school as a teenager to enter the workforce.
“Favorite part of Tough as Nails for me is the opportunity to honor hardworking men and women. Not just in America, but now also in Canada,” Keoghan said. “But it really is paying tribute to people a lot of times who just don’t get to be put in the spotlight.”
“My grandfather had to leave school at 13. He wasn’t allowed to go to high school. He had to go to work. Brightest kid in his class. And a lot of people are looked down upon if they don’t get a higher education. And yet they’re some of the brightest people out there,” he explained.
“And it’s so much about opportunity. So, yeah, hardworking men and women who literally keep the country running. To make sure that the toilets flush, the lights go on, that we have food on the table. They keep things moving and operating,” Keoghan praised. “It’s really a tribute to them. I just love that so that when people may be watching the show, and then they see people working on the side of the roads, or they see people up in skyscrapers, cleaning windows or buildings, that maybe they have a new appreciation and respect.”
Tough as Nails airs Fridays at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.
This interview was conducted prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike, which began on July 13, 2023.