‘Survivor’ Host Jeff Probst Just Called the New Season of the Show ‘Survivor Boot Camp’

It’s hard to believe Survivor has been on the air for nearly two decades, and Season 39 is fast approaching its premiere. Host Jeff Probst has been a part of production since the very beginning, too. And while he simply started the show as an impartial host explaining the rules of gameplay, he’s since evolved into the executive producer and ultimate lover of Survivor who’s dedicated to making the game bigger and better each season.

Fans are ready for Season 39 to begin on Sept. 25, as the premise is Island of the Idols and it involves two returning players. And it looks like players will be put to the ultimate test of wits and gambling, too, as Probst is already saying part of it’s like a boot camp. Here’s why.

The new season of Survivor features two returning favorites

Boston Rob Mariano and Sandra Diaz-Twine
Boston Rob Mariano and Sandra Diaz-Twine | Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images

Jeff Probst has been attempting to change up every new season of Survivor so both fans and players can look at the game through a fresh lens. And Island of the Idols is about to bring back two past winners who are notorious for their gameplay. Rob Mariano, the winner of Survivor: Redemption Island, and Sandra Diaz-Twine, the winner of both Survivor: Pearl Islands and Heroes vs. Villains, are both returning to the island — but this time, they’re not competing for the million-dollar grand prize. Instead, they’ll be offering their gameplay insights to the players on a separate island.

As Mariano explained to Hollywood Reporter, “Any lesson, they can come and learn it over here. We can do anything, you know? We’ve been here over 200 days between the two of us. We can make a fire like that. We can teach them how to fish. We have everything that they would need to learn how to do any skill that it takes to survive out here.”

Jeff Probst explained it wasn’t easy getting Mariano and Diaz-Twine to return

Jeff Probst addresses the remaining Survivors
Jeff Probst addresses the remaining Survivors | Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images

Fans love seeing returning players on Survivor — and the way new contestants react to returning players is always interesting as well. But since Mariano and Diaz-Twine have already played the game a handful of times, they both weren’t too keen on returning (especially Mariano, who stated he’d never play again). So, the way Probst got them to return to the game was to make them teachers instead of players. “The germ of the idea came simply from how do you make them say yes? You make them gods,” Probst told Entertainment Weekly.

Once Mariano was on board with the idea, Probst knew Diaz-Twine would be the perfect companion. While there are plenty of other players who’d love to return, Mariano and Diaz-Twine have a lot to teach while also still playing off a semi-untrustworthy persona. “Sandra seemed like the perfect bookend because these are two experts in the game, they’re fun to watch, and they’ve got just enough villain and devil in them that they’re a teacher you should be wary of,” Probst said.

Probst is also calling parts of this season Survivor Bootcamp

Jeff Probst extinguishes Chris Underwood's torch
Jeff Probst extinguishes Chris Underwood’s torch | Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images

Mariano and Diaz-Twine are sure to make the perfect (and potentially untrustworthy) duo for the new Survivor castaways. And Probst is also reminding fans that contestants who come across Mariano and Diaz-Twine are going to be put through a boot camp-like situation. As he told Entertainment Weekly, when a contestant arrives on the Island of the Idols, they’re taught a skill by the two famous Survivor veterans — and then the contestant is then offered the chance to put their skills to the test. This gamble doesn’t always pay off, however. If Mariano or Diaz-Twine opts to go against the contestant in a challenge and the contestant loses, they could be in trouble.

“And the twist is, yes, it’s a boot camp. But it’s a Survivor boot camp. ‘So never forget, I’m Boston Rob and that’s Sandra, and you just fell into a trap.’ That was kind of the big idea,” Probst explains.

So, will the new contestants choose to go against Mariano and Diaz-Twine when prompted, or will they risk losing high rewards for a safer bet? We’ll have to find out when the new season premieres on Sept. 25!

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