Oh, and there’s a million dollars at stake.
No, it’s not an science fiction novel or a movie. “Stranded With a Million Dollars” is MTV’s new reality TV show which tests the skills of contestants for a chance at winning a huge sum of money–and a TCU alum is one of the ten battling it out for a share of the prize.
“It’s like the show ‘Survivor’ meets ‘Hunger Games,’” said Alex Apple, a TCU alum who graduated in 2014.
The reality show begins by dropping ten strangers on an island in Fiji. The rules seem simple enough: survive 40 days, and split a million bucks with whoever makes it to the end.
But it’s a little more complicated than that.
“The catch is, the tools you need to survive aren’t given to you,” Apple said. “You have to buy them, and that money comes out of the eventual prize money. Everything is crazy expensive, so a machete you would need to build shelter may cost $10,000.”
The only way out is to shoot a flare up, signaling that a contestant has had enough.
“There’s no voting off, so the only way out is to quit,” Apple said. “It’s really a test of your will.”
Apple described himself as someone who didn’t know a lot about survival before the show. Fresh out of college, he was a reporter for a WCAX, a TV station in Burlington, Vermont.
He said he stumbled across a casting call for the reality show while watching casting videos from the show “Survivor.”
“I came across this casting call for an unnamed survival adventure show,” Apple said.
After several interviews, “Lo and behold, I ended up deciding I was gonna give it a whirl,” he said.
Once the MTV producers narrowed the applicant pool down to ten contestants, Apple said they were told very little about the rules of the show or what they would need to prepare before being dropped off in Fiji.
“I prepared by trying to brush up on basic survival skills like starting fires without matches,” he said. “It happened quickly so I didn’t have a great deal of time.”
Once he arrived, Apple described how difficult the experience was, both physically and mentally.
“That’s the hardest part: [being lonely]. There’s a lot of down time. And they’re constantly filming you.”
Apple said that the producers used drones and robotic cameras to film the series as a way to make contestants feel even more isolated.
The show’s executive producer, Kevin Lee, gave a behind-the-scenes look of how the cameras were set up here.
“It’s designed to simulate having less people around the cast to make the cast feel alone or like you’re on an isolated island,” Apple said.
Apple couldn’t say how far he made it in the show or what the outcome was, but he did say this:
“It was intense…one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.”
These days the TCU grad said he’s readjusted to life back home. He said coming back was an experience in itself.
“It was weird coming back at first,” he said. “You’re so engrossed in this game…eventually I came back to work and my life has gone back to normal.”
The show is premiering Feb. 21 at 9 p.m. on MTV.
“We’ll see what people think once it airs,” he said. “We’ve all been looking forward to [it].”
TCU360 will follow up with commentary from Apple after the show premieres.