Laughter. Route markers. Noisy fights in airports. A snowmobile race across the world's largest glacier. That's right, TV's best reality show is back for another action-packed season! Tonight's premiere of The Amazing Race (9 pm/ET on CBS) finds 11 new daring duos racing from downtown Chicago to Iceland's famous Blue Lagoon, with lots of difficult — but hugely entertaining — challenges along the way. Here, TAR host and published author Phil Keoghan (whose book No Opportunity Wasted is out now) shares his thoughts about the show's eagerly anticipated sixth season.
TV Guide Online: This is the first time Amazing Race has gone to Iceland, right? It's a great location for the premiere.
Yeah, we always try to do something that captures people's imaginations, and it's a challenge because you've got to outdo yourself every time. But this season has a great start to it.
TVGO: Any other big "firsts" planned?
There's a slight alteration to one of the rules, which has quite a dramatic impact. I'm not going to tell you what it is because it's nicely revealed in the series, but we've been looking at different ways to tweak the show and make it more challenging. People study this show; they really understand every intricate detail of it. There's one guy this season, Jonathan, who is a huge race fan and knows everything about the show.
TVGO: Tell us more about Jonathan. Based on the first episode, he's shaping up to be this season's Colin.
I think he is, without a doubt, the loudest contestant we've ever had on the show. It will be interesting to see how the fans respond to that. We definitely had people getting upset with him. It seems like the race gets more intense every single time. We're at that point where there's less and less of a honeymoon period. Now it's really about just getting straight into it.
TVGO: Who else should we keep an eye on?
There are these pro wrestlers [Bolo and Lori] who are larger than life. We have a lot of couples this season as well. One couple [Kris and Jon] has been dating long-distance and this is the longest period they will have been together. We have this interesting couple Adam and Rebecca where she thought he was gay but he actually liked her. They've gotten together now, and you have to question whether they should be together. There's also Avi and Joe who are from Brooklyn...
TVGO: Those are my guys. This New Yawker's gotta support his borough!
Yeah, they're funny. They're just outright funny guys. The sisters, Lena and Kristy, are polar opposites. One of them is really out there and the other one is really not out there at all. It's kind of interesting to see them [interact].
TVGO: Going into every season, can you tell which cast members will be the most popular with viewers?
No, you never know who is going to pay off for the audience. And when we're out there, we never know which teams are actually going to do well because it's completely unpredictable. Case in point was Charla and Mirna. Nobody thought they would go as far as they did, but they did. And who thought they would capture people's imaginations as much as they did? We actually thought that Alison and Donny were going to capture people's imaginations, but they didn't stay in it as long. We also didn't think that Colin and Christie would be as big as they were. And when I say "we," I guess I really should say "I" because I don't want people saying, "Well, we knew!" I can't speak for anybody else, but I can tell you honestly that I never know who is going to win the race. I am never able to predict all the teams at the end. I've been lucky with a couple of guesses, but I haven't worked out any science to it.
TVGO: Last season scored big ratings and brought the show renewed media attention. Does that make you more confident going into this race?
I've never worked on a show where it has actually gotten bigger season by season. If you work on a show that's big, it often comes out of the gate big or takes a little while to build up speed. But this show has progressively gotten stronger and stronger and then, last season, it just exploded. And now we're in this great situation: We have two Emmys, Season 5 was big and we've got a great time slot for Season 6. You never want to anticipate [success] because you just never know, but I'd be lying if I said we didn't think we had the opportunity to take the show to another level again.
TVGO: Finally, have you got anything to say to Donald Trump, who dissed TAR after it beat The Apprentice at the Emmys?
Yeah, I heard that he wasn't happy. You know, I didn't say this, but somebody said I should tell him: "I'm sorry to tell you, you've been eliminated." I guess he was eliminated before he was able to fire us. But that's just what somebody suggested I say. I don't want The Donald coming after me with his heavies. (Laughs)