Guy Fieri Will Give You a <em>Minute to Win It</em>

The host of the new NBC reality show talks about the upcoming series

NBC is gearing up for its latest reality contest series Minute To Win It premieres on Sunday, March 14th with a two-hour series premiere starting at 7 PM ET and the show will debut in its regular time slot on March 21st at 8 PM ET on NBC. The host of this new show is Guy Fieri and he recently held a conference call to discuss this innovative new series. Here's what Fieri had to say.

I know you've got Guy's Big Bite. You've got your Triple-D and I'm wondering how you're juggling this new show.

Guy Fieri: Well I can't believe we actually don't have juggling as one of the competitions on the show. But who knows what'll come up next from the game guys. Now how am I juggling it? It's - I would tell you it's a handful. But it was a great - you know we went down and shot the show in January. And the team was so organized and so put together we got down, and knocked it out real quick. So it wasn't as - as big as the show is and as many shows as we shot it wasn't as difficult to pull it off as someone might think. But it - you got it exactly right. Three shows on Food Network and then primetime on NBC is a lot.

I was there that rain - our first rainy day when you were - they had the elephant, the guy with the panty hose on his face and the tennis ball. And he had to be like an elephant and swing the bottles down.

Guy Fieri: Tell me it wasn't hysterical.

Oh my gosh. So my question for you is there's a bunch of different challenges; which one in your estimation is the most difficult and if you can describe it?

Guy Fieri: Oh boy. I think - now I've seen all of them. I haven't played all of them. But I've seen them all on video and then I've also seen probably I'd say about 75% of them actually physically done by people maybe not on the show but in a practice setting. I got to say I think Ping Tac Toe is to me one of the most challenging. And that's not getting up into the million dollar prize games, you know, that are at that point. But I think for the general purpose games all the way across the board Ping Tac Toe where you've got to balance. You've got two different colored ping pong balls. You have to bounce them. Once you land one color type, you have to switch to the other color types. So you're essentially playing tic-tac-toe against yourself. One color type has to end up in a tic-tac-toe line, you know, straight, diagonal, whatever it may be. And that's the thing. And I'll tell you something, you know, it's hard enough to bounce one and get it in the glass. But some folks really get it and just sit there and excel at it. So I think that would be the toughest.

So how did you - how did the Swedish people find you, the producers of the show?

Guy Fieri: Well you know I've been to Sweden. No, it wasn't because I've been to Sweden. I've been to Norway. You know what? It was actually a collaboration between our Executive Producer, you know, Craig Plestis, and Jason Hodes from William Morris Endeavor. Two had met two years ago in I believe it was France. There was a conference that was going on there. And they just started to have this, you know, discussion about, you know, I've got this new guy that's on the Food Network. His name is Guy Fieri, blah, blah, blah. And that was it. I remember Jason telling me he had met this guy. And I bet you someday we'll have some, you know, some program. Well as everybody knows in this business there's a lot of ideas and designs and hopes and wishes and dreams. And the fact that this has really come to, you know, fruition that it's just, you know, what do you say? I'm amazed. And I appreciate the opportunity because I am a chef. And a restaurant owner, a dad. And I do have other shows. You know I've got other things going on. And to be chosen to do this, you couldn't - I'll just tell it to you this way. You couldn't have designed a game ever that was going to be more fitting to me and my style than this. And that's not just a cliché statement. I mean I don't know what you could have called the game. But this right here, this is how - this is what - you know this is how - this is me.

I want to know what was it like for you to be involved with a show that's not food related.

Guy Fieri: Oh it was awesome. You know it's kind of - it's funny. I'll be walking around sometimes. I was up at the Olympics and someone walks up to me and says, what diner, drive-in and dive are you doing up here? I'm like, I'm at the Olympics dude. What do you - do you think that that's all I do? I wake up and I'm on my quest? You know so for me these games - well let's - I'll take it from the first point. One, anything that has to do with people and seeing people excel and seeing people, you know, sit in, you know, in great opportunity albeit in a diner situation where we're highlighting our food or be it in a Minute To Win It situation where they have a chance to win a million dollars. To be the dude that gets to kick it there and kind of like participate, you know, be the coach, be the encourager, be the whatever you want to call it is awesome. So to me it has a very similar feel in the sense that it's me just interacting with everyday people. Just I'm just being Guy, they're just being them. And they're having a great experience. So there is a lot of similarity to it. But man I'll tell you something talk about emotional. I mean it's - I, you know, I love going to my kid's soccer games but this is like 12 hours of soccer game a day.

Now how well do you think you would do in competition? Or would you even go all the way or would you take the money and run?

Guy Fieri: Oh I don't know. You know you get - I mean I don't know how many times you think of Vegas and you've done the thing. And you're sitting there at the craps table. Things are really going good. And you start to get this little - I think you start to get a little bit of visions of grandeur, you know, like there's no stopping me today. You know that kind of feeling. So I think I would be a little hard pressed to maybe take the money and run. I hope that I would have somebody there in the audience that would be cheering me on saying get, you know, get out of there. You get in the groove. You know you get in the zone. And that's what we watched on the show as we did this is we watched some people find their zone and just crush it. So it's hard to predict. But I will tell you this. It's a lot more difficult than it looks. And if people want to get on this show, you know, of course we're going to be - I hope we're going to be doing this forever. And if people want to get on the show you can go online. You can get all the rundown on the games and you can practice. That's the cool thing about this. It's not like, you know, in other games, we're not going to give you the trivia questions at home. You can read those and then maybe we're going to ask you one of them. This show we really do. Here's the game. Here's exactly the dimensions of how you play the game. And play it, practice it, and then come win it. That's - I mean it doesn't get any easier than that.

You mentioned you cranked a lot of episodes in a hurry in January. How many did you do?

Guy Fieri: Well we shot for five days. And exactly what that material, you know, what that turned into, I'm not quite sure. The show wasn't set up in a way that we had to have the beginning and the ending of each, shall I call, show set up. You know sometimes there was some contestants that didn't go as far as fast. Sometimes there were contestants who went really far really fast. So the show was put together in a way that they were able to put the different contestants into different spots they wanted at the different times. So whether or not - I know we completed our eight shows that we were after. And whether there was more past that, I'm not sure. But I'm going to tell you sometimes the intensity was so much that we did shoot over, I mean we did shoot past our scheduled time.

So you were talking about, you know, how intense the challenges and the games get. And how nerve wracking is it for you as a host? Are you like sitting there trying to cheer people on or like helping them complete the challenges or anything like that?

Guy Fieri: Okay. Now this - I've said this on all of my shows. People ask me about Diners - I'm sorry. I'm going to take a little skew for this but it's going to come back to what you wanted to hear or what's the answer. When I do Diners, Drive-ins and Dives, number one question people ask me is do you really like everything you eat or are you just telling us? I said here's the deal. As a chef, as a restaurant owner, as a person, I'm not going to give you a line here. I'm not going to - you know, I'm not going to sell you a bag of beans. If I don't like it you probably won't see it. If I don't think it's done right we probably won't - you know we won't air it. That's how that is. The game - on Minute To Win It is the exact same thing. What you'll see out of me -- as a matter of fact I've seen some of the clips and I've gone oh my gosh, look at me. It looks like I'm watching Hunter playing the championship soccer game for, you know, for - because it is. Okay you meet - here we go, we meet these people. Salt of the earth folks, I mean just great people. Then they get into this challenge. Okay, why do you want to win the money? It's giving me goose bumps as I tell you. Why do you want to win the money? Oh I want to buy a house. I want to take my dad on a trip around the world. I want to take my mom back to China. I want whatever these things may be. And it's always - it's never things like oh I want to buy a Ferrari, you know, they always have these reasons and these passions. Okay, so now I've met them. Now I've heard their story. Now they get into the competition. And we're not watching people lackadaisically try to bounce a ping pong ball and go oh whoops. I didn't make it. I'll go home now. I mean you watch people with blood, sweat and tears in this. I into it. I'm not kidding you. I have to control myself because there's so many times I want to tell them, "Hey here's an idea. If you tried this," but I can't, you know, I can't divulge the, you know, the trick of the game or the - not that there's always...

Yeah. But you want to give strategies.

Guy Fieri: Exactly. Because I want to get down there with them, you know, but no, there have been. And this is very much the truth. There have been some times when I'm standing there looking at people and I don't know what the games are that are coming up. I don't want to know what the games are. I am right there with them. I am their coach. I'm their supporter, okay. I'm the medium. And I tell them, sometimes I'll look at them and go, come on. You've got a bunch of money. Go home, you know. But I can't do it. And I have to just stand there with them. And, you know what? I've been wrong. I've told people, I thought of my - you know my heart-to-heart, they should boogie. And they haven't and they've won a lot more money. And I've stood there and thought for sure they're going to accomplish this next one. And they haven't. And I've sat there and felt the sorrow. But it is 100% genuine. And I think anybody that's been involved in a game show that's done it, that's really had that appeal to the mass market, has had - I don't know how they've done it this many years and not just feel that anguish when someone loses all the cash. But it's the reality of the game.

I guess the most important question is what should fans expect to see? I mean, you know, we - as you said they know you're in food. But what should they expect to see from this? I mean would you - how would you explain it in a couple sentence or less?

Guy Fieri: You know everything I do that I'm enthusiastic about. This is genuine enthusiasm. If I don't - I mean I've done other projects that I have not been a fan of until I realized I was doing it and I wasn't really there. And I don't do those anymore. I only do - I mean my time is, you know, of course all of our time is so precious. But my time is precious. I mean I have two young boys and I try to, you know, be at home as much as I can. So I don't need to take on another project that I, and I mean this truly, that I 110% don't believe in. This is a life changing show for people. I mean you don't have to be a Rhodes Scholar. You don't have to be a world class athlete. You don't have to have really any super professional skill or talent. You just have to have the Minute To Win It, in it to win it game attitude. And you can do this. And I think what - when I explain this to people is you take any of those games that you've enjoyed, be it classroom competition on a rainy day in sixth grade in Ferndale, California and the teacher set up mini indoor Olympics where you had to throw the bean bag and you would sit there and you would go, that was the greatest recess I ever had. And it was simply to win a pencil, you know. And when you think about that genuine center of people competition, not for - you know and take the money out of it, just the genuine competition that we all possess. And now we put it in systematic games that take more - no more than 60 seconds. I mean I get bored. I watch something. Come on, I mean enough already, you know. Get in there and do this or don't do this. This is 60 second competitions. We get to see - we get to see things take place bam, bam, bam, so it's that same core gamer - gaming attitude or competition attitude that we have with games that are 60 seconds long. And it is completely addicting.

Minute To Win It has drawn some comparisons to another game show, a British one called The Cube in that, you know, the contestants have a timed limit to complete simple tasks. So I was wondering what you think makes Minute To Win It different? Or do you think they're somewhat similar?

Guy Fieri: Well I've heard the same comparison. And to be very honest with you and not to seem naïve, I haven't seen The Cube. I try not to muddy my vision or my creativity, you know, sometimes you see something and think okay, well I can't do that now because that's already been done. You know so I just try to went in and did this dry, I just kind of went into it without any expectation of how I would say it or what I would do or, you know, what would go on. I think there's been a lot of sharing of, you know, styles of games and so forth throughout the years between countries and within the United States. So I think if The Cube did good and it had some similarities to it, then that's great news. This show from what I've been told people that have seen The Cube and have seen other competition type, you know, shows like this, challenge shows, we're going to rock. I mean this show is about as compelling as anybody could imagine and here's why. Here's what I think the simple basic of it is. I think you can sit there when my 13 year old son sits there and watches the competition, and as soon as the competition is over, he bumps me and says hey, during commercial can I go do that? So we've got it set up for the next one, but I get you. And when they can feel that, and when people watch these sizzle reels and they go now explain to me, what's so difficult about that? Okay, well here you go, let me put this paper bag on the ground and without using your hands bend down and pick it up with your mouth. You know you've got 15 of my buddies standing around at the Super Bowl, I see someone pick up this lunch bag on the ground without - go try to do it. So I don't know, I mean there could be comparisons and similarities but I will tell you Minute To Win It is in its own world and I think it's going to - I think it's just going to blow people away. I think at commercial break we should - as a matter of fact we should start the show off with saying to watch today's show, please have available 19 ping pong balls, 14 paper bags. You know something like that I think that would be a great way for them to get the feeling.

I have a question about your studio audience. What's the atmosphere like when there's a contestant trying to complete this task in 60 seconds?

Guy Fieri: Okay. Well this is a funny question. So - and it's giving me goose bumps. I'm very - you know I'm emotional, I wear my feelings on my sleeve. I get really excited - yes Ryder? I'm talking - just a minute? You can listen okay? I'm sorry, this is my son Ryder is hot on my trail, I was hidden back in my office and he's now discovered me, so. He's showing me his cars. Okay, so you get the audience there. The audience doesn't know, you know, some of them know who I am, some don't. Some are there because there's an opportunity to come see a game show. So here they come. So I walk out and explain to everybody this is what this is about. And they - some of them look at me cross eyed, like what are you guys doing? Some of them look at it and go all right, well we're going to get started. But I am going to tell you this, and this came to me from a group of ladies that I happened to run into in Hollywood about three weeks later, shooting a show for Food Network. And they said we were in your audience for Minute To Win It. And I said yes? And I'm like oh boy, what am I going to get? She goes I have been to over 25 different game shows - or 25 different times that I've seen a game show. She goes, I have never been that sucked into it. She goes, it was the most - I walked out of there tired because of how emotional it was. And that to me is the experience - that's the experience I had. I mean I came out of it like I had been playing, but the audience, there were two particular shoot days that were longer than they were supposed to. And I'm going to tell you something, the audience to the final second, to the moment of you know the ending, were on the edge of their seat and just screaming and yelling. And I had to finally say to them, go home. It's over, you know, I've got to go to Mexico, my family's waiting for me. But that's what the result was. So I think the audience got a real charge out of - you'll see genuine, you know, we weren't holding big okay everybody applaud signs up. That wasn't what was going on.

Well that's good, that's a good sign.

Guy Fieri: Well I - trust me, I was wondering myself going, you know, we'll really see the proof in the pudding on this one, no cooking term intended on that. We'll really see what ends up happening with this and they were thrilled. As a matter of fact the crew was thrilled. I mean you're dealing with a lot of folks that have been shooting game shows and shooting television shows in Hollywood for years, okay, for decades. And when these cats walk up to me and say dude, this is - you guys are - you know, this is something that, you know - and I'm talking with guys that have been doing lighting setups even walked up to me saying I'm really - I want to watch, you know. And they're stuck there glued to the TV so I think that's a good sign of what's happening.

Do the contestants have family members like available to them to talk to them about if they want to keep going in the game or walk away or anything like that?

Guy Fieri: Yes, absolutely. I mean and here's the funny thing, okay. So if I went with my friends or I'm a family member and I'm going, say my sister's going. Hit the money and get out of this. These family members were as wild as our competitors and their enthusiasm was just contagious. And the pictures, some of the still photos that I've seen have just - and I mean I remember everybody but I remember, you know, and I see his wife cheering, you know, the exuberance. I mean it was just - but I will tell you the ones that really got me were the kids, when the kids came and knowing what it's like to be a dad and the dad or the mom performing in front of their children. Kids - their emotions, oh, I'm going tell you something. It was - but that was a real key to it. You know that was one of the things - I got to have a lot of creative in this and it was so neat because we all - I think we all really saw eye to eye on these points. You know of course you need to have your family members there, that's what a lot of this is for is to throw that extra boost into the family, you know, economic profile.

Sure, and it makes the audience cheer for the contestant more because you learn a little bit more about them.

Guy Fieri: Real - and I'm going to tell you the real - like I said earlier, salt of the earth folks. I mean it's - I don't think there was one person that at the end of the show, whenever they were finished with their piece that there wasn't a big hug afterwards and a stand down in the dressing room and take pictures and sign books and do that. I mean just all of them just were so - just such great people, I've got to really hand it to the NBC team for their - you know, their casting or involvement. Or, you know, I don't know how everybody got involved in it, but just really neat people.

Now you were saying that a lot of the competitions look easy on paper. Can you describe how difficult Hanky Panky is?

Guy Fieri: Okay, you know when you do something, I don't know like you're filing through papers or you're - something that has a repetitive movement. And the first 20 seconds you do it you're like what was the big deal with that? Oh okay, pop a shot, like when you go to an arcade game place, I go with my son, we do the pop a shot, the basketball thing, use that little basketball, cute little basketball thing, you know what I'm talking about? Pizza parlors used to have them? That make sense?

Yeah.

Guy Fieri: Okay. And you do it for the first 20 seconds and you're like this is nothing. But how many times have you actually sat there and put your arm above your head and shot a little, you know, eight ounce ball from your hand repetitively as fast as you can and all of the sudden you can start to feel your arm and your shoulders seize up on you a little bit, or kind of tighten? So here you are, you're confronting a tissue box with a bunch of little, you know, quarter of an ounce tissues and you have got to pull them out of this box as fast as you can. All of America is watching you, you've got thousands of dollars on the line and this big buzzer is going off and a countdown of 10, 9, 8 - I'm not kidding you, I have seen some of the best get rattled out of their cage. So it is as much as it seems like you've got to be kidding me? Get in the ring baby, get in the 60 second circle as I call it and let's see what you're really made of.

Guy Fierei's Minute To Win It premieres on Sunday, March 14th with a two-hour series premiere starting at 7 PM ET and the show will debut in its regular time slot on March 21st at 8 PM ET on NBC.