‘Tough As Nails’: Phil Keoghan Previews a Pressure-Filled Finale (VIDEO)

Tough as Nails Season 1 Finale - Phil Keoghan clapping

If you think the freshman season of CBS’ competition series Tough As Nails has been intense up to this point, you—and the five remaining contestants—haven’t seen anything yet.

In Sept. 2’s 2-hour season finale, the team competition is over (Team Dirty Hands took the prize of $60,000 in last week’s episode), so it’s now down to the individual challenge to see who will take home the title of “Tough As Nails” and a $200,000 cash prize.

Executive producer and host Phil Keoghan gave TV Insider a preview of the surprises still in store for viewers of the show, which has already been renewed for a second season.

Going back to last week’s episode, did your gut tell you who might pull through to win the team competition, or was it a surprise that Dirty Hands won in the end?

Phil Keoghan: The finale of the team competition played out like a feel-good underdog movie…the planets aligned. They do say luck is the residue of design, but this challenge far exceeded expectations. Honestly, I was as shocked by what happened as the audience. I have to say the moment of Lee picking Murph a second time, after just losing to him, is my favorite competition reality moment ever. As Lee would say, it was a Wang Dang Doodle!

There are five contestants left in the individual competition. What can we expect to see in the final episode?

I really believe Tough as Nails has broken new ground for competition reality shows. Men and women, young and old, all shapes and sizes, competing on an equal playing field. We have worked hard to ensure there is a fair balance of strength, endurance, agility, life skills and most importantly mental toughness. Tough as Nails has a focus on “pulling your weight”: Using the precedent set in sports like boxing and weightlifting where there are heavy weight and light weight divisions, we have calibrated some challenges based on “power to weight ratio.” An example of this is when contestants had to save a victim from a building and the victim weighs the same weight as each competitor.

Would you say it’s more about brain or brawn for the final individual competition, or equal on both fronts?

Because Tough as Nails tests strength, endurance, agility, life skills and most importantly mental toughness, the winner must have a balance of all attributes to win the overall title. The ability to work smarter not harder, to utilize their life skills rather than just relying on brute strength and the mental fortitude to keep pushing forward when they reach the breaking point.

Throughout the season, this was such a competitive but very respectful bunch of competitors. Was that part of the casting or just luck that none of that drama we often see in reality TV crept in?

Everyone we cast on Tough as Nails is used to working on a team, they know the importance of figuring out their differences to get the job done. While everyone is super competitive, there is a deep respect for each other—they know they are going up against others who are the best of the best in their chosen trade. Tough as Nails is focused on what unites us rather than what divides us; working through challenges rather than getting into stand-offs; listening instead of stonewalling and accentuating what is right instead of what’s wrong.

I do believe that our cast is a microcosm of the best of America, people from all walks of life: different backgrounds, political beliefs, life skills, ages and races but…they all share a strong work ethic, a love of family, pride in what they do and love of their country.

Here’s an exclusive clip from the finale where Team Savage Crew talk about the pressure they’ve all faced in their lifetimes:

Tough As Nails, Two-Hour Season Finale, Wednesday, September 2, 9/8c, CBS