The 10th season of The Biggest Loser isn't just focusing on the 21 contestants chosen to compete, but on the cities and communities in which they live. Host Alison Sweeney says that the latest installment is about paying it forward, which is why the first episode involves "a cast of a thousand," who were encouraged to participate and embark on the weight-loss journey at home alongside the competitors on the ranch. TVGuide.com spoke to Sweeney about how the show stays fresh, which player she thinks will be the fan favorite, and which Biggest Loser trainer she'd choose: Bob Harper or Jillian Michaels.
TVGuide.com: Biggest Loser is in its 10th season. How do you keep it fresh?
Alison Sweeney: I think the show's success stems from the sincerity of the contestants and the heartfelt journey they are on. It's a real struggle, weight loss, one that the majority of people face in this country, to varying degrees. So everyone relates to what they're going through, they relate to the battle ahead, they want to be inspired by their successes, and share in their joy as they achieve their goals.
TVGuide.com: Tell me about this season's theme of "paying it forward."
Sweeney: We've discussed it in seasons past, but this season in particular we are focusing on the idea of really impacting the world around us. We started in their hometowns, and got a whole crowd of people to encourage them as they head to campus. Well, in turn, we want the contestants to head home and make a difference with their friends, families, communities. Take the lessons learned and pay it forward and instead of just letting them discover this as past contestants have, we decided to instill in them that idea right from Day 1. You're not just here for you — you can and need to grab on to the opportunity for all those people at home who are rooting for you.
TVGuide.com: What do you think about having contestants compete in the first episode to get a spot on the ranch?
Sweeney: As opposed to narrowing it down, in some ways we have a cast of a thousand this season because we have so many people with us those days opening it up and being challenged, being motivated and inspired by what they saw that first day. The players were challenging them, like, "I want everyone here to make a difference; I'm going to see you at the end of this. And I want you to lose weight with me." They found a community of people around them -- new best friends, new people who are going to walk with them in their neighborhood. They found people to inspire them and be accountable to them and to each other and hopefully that is another way that they took that first step. Each contestant realized just how valuable an opportunity the ranch is when they saw other people fighting as hard as they are to get there.
TVGuide.com: Who do you think will be a fan favorite?
Sweeney: I think Jesse is going to immediately make the audience fall in love with him. He's one of my favorite people.
TVGuide.com: If you had to choose a trainer for yourself, would you be more drawn to Bob's style or Jillian's methods?
Sweeney: Oh, I see how you are trying to start something! Both Bob and Jillian are incredible trainers. And I've worked out with them both. I live for Bob's spin class — he is so tough on me, but inspiring at the same time. "Save that drama for daytime, Sweeney!" He totally calls me out in front of the whole class if I'm not pushing myself hard enough. And Jillian is so incredible and getting me to push harder than I ever thought possible. So, why choose between them when I get the best of both worlds?
The Biggest Loser airs Tuesdays at 8/7c on NBC.