Survivor: Palau's Gregg Carey hoped his "friendship" with petite blonde Jennifer

would carry him to the final two. The Ken doll made a fatal mistake, however, by taking the Barbie clone and her pal Katie on a reward cruise. Sure, they swam with dolphins, reunited with family members, ate and showered. But they also left tough competitors Tom and Ian behind with Caryn to plot against them. Here, Gregg talks to TVGuide.com about underestimating his opponents.

TVGuide.com: Were you confident about your decision to take Jennifer and Katie on the reward cruise?
Gregg Carey:
It's a fine balance between confidence and paranoia, and I let the confidence creep up on me. The problem was that I thought there were only five people left [in the game]. I forgot about Caryn. It was probably the dumbest move I could have made in the game. It was honestly an innocent mistake. I wasn't like, "Ooh, I'll take Jennifer and Katie because then I'd have an alliance of three." They hadn't [received] any rewards, so I wanted to allow them to experience other things outside the game. In hindsight, I think I should have taken Ian, because Ian hasn't been on any rewards. But the fruit was dangling in front of me — and I couldn't let it go! I collapsed and crumbled like a little wuss.

TVG: Yeah, but Ian gets to swim with dolphins for a living.
Gregg:
That's what I said! For the first few hours, I was thinking, "Man, I feel so bad for those guys left back there alone." Jenn's like, "Gregg, just calm down." But I was like, "No, that's horrible." But then, we went to swim with dolphins and I was like, "You know what? That dude gets to swim with dolphins all the time."

TVG: You seem to have guilt issues. Do you have a guilty conscience?
Gregg:
I do. I think I am just a nice guy. I wasn't going to let these rewards distract me from what my original plan was, but that's a lot easier [said than done]. I think I literally gave Ian and Tom the knife to stab me in the back. If I was shunned and [left] on the beach with nothing to do but plot and be bitter, I'd probably do the same thing.

TVG: Even Katie turned against you after she swore loyalty. Did that surprise you?
Gregg:
I was shocked at the end. But in terms of good game play, why should she risk taking a stone and drawing a tie?

TVG: But how do you know that's going to happen? Survivor switches things up.
Gregg:
That's true. You want to believe.

TVG: Host Jeff Probst seemed mean for picking on you about asking Jennifer's permission before you took down her torch at the reward.
Gregg:
He was hilarious. He was bustin' my b---s. Geez, Jeff, everything's got to be about the game? He uncovers that stuff and it brings a whole new dynamic to the game that you've got to be prepared for. It adds complexity. He observes things that we may not see, because we live with the people and take things for granted. He calls 'em out.

TVG: Don't you think that, after Rob and Amber's alliance, Survivors are on the lookout for couples?
Gregg:
I agree. I knew who Rob and Amber were, [but] I never watched All-Stars.

TVG: So cozying up to Jennifer wasn't a strategy?
Gregg:
It wasn't. My strategy was to assess the lay of the land and build relationships with everyone and then look for opportunities where I could establish myself in an alliance with equal risk and reward. When you do that, you limit your chances of people turning on you. There was a final-four alliance of me, Ian, Katie and Jenn. I figured two guys, two girls, we'd battle it out and let the chips fall where they may. That was my goal. I didn't say, "Oh, there is Jenn, I'm gonna hook up with her and we're going to take it to the end."

She talked to me about the all-girl alliance and I encouraged her, "Jenn, this is your game. If you think that's your best move, then make it. I don't want to have a say, but just know that you are in a really good position right now with me, Ian and Tom. You and Katie almost have a free ticket to the final four. If you go to the all-girl alliance with Stephenie, you break up this final-five alliance and people would be p----d off."

TVG: Did you have feelings for Jennifer or was it all about the game?
Gregg:
My feelings weren't game play. You can't hide feelings or manipulate people like that out there. At least I'm not capable of that. You saw how guilty I got just putting people's torches out. I feel bad about that stuff. [Our] relationship was real.

TVG: Think you and Jenn might date now?
Gregg:
First and foremost, I think we don't want to lose the friendship that we have. I live in Chicago and she lives in L.A. You never know, but I don't want to risk [losing] a friendship.