24 Hours With Jeff Probst Of Survivor

It's been 19 years—and nearly 40 seasons—since Survivor host Jeff Probst first snuffed out a tropical torch with a solemn "The tribe has spoken." Here, he shares his typical day in paradise.
Posted on Sep 18, 2019 | 04:15pm
By David Hochman

5:00 a.m. I'm up an hour before sunrise. It's nice to have a bit of quiet before the day begins. I'll text my wife to say good morning. It's so important to start the day with that connection. In Borneo the first season, we had dial-up internet, and the crew would line up for hours for the one phone line. Now I FaceTime with my wife and kids. I couldn't have survived it this long otherwise.

Jeff Probst, Emmy Award winning host of hit reality series Survivor, takes in the island scene.

6:30 a.m. A quick workout. I have a small gym that travels with me full of gear I've accumulated over the years. At the start of the shoot, I try to work out five days a week. But with each passing week, the physical and mental fatigue starts to take a toll on my energy levels. By the end of the shoot, I'm lucky if I can manage 20 minutes, three times a week.

STREAM: Every Episode Of Survivor On CBS All Access

7:30 a.m. Breakfast. Survivor is essentially a live television show. We shoot 39 straight days, we don't do second takes, and we don't skip a day due to weather or illness. So every crew member has to be healthy in order to contribute, and that includes me. My food routine is pretty boring. For breakfast I always have an egg frittata with a protein shake and coffee. I always get sleep and rarely drink alcohol. Like I said, pretty boring.

A typical breakfast while filming Survivor quick and healthy.

9:15 a.m. Prepping for the challenge. My prep is pretty fast, and sunscreen is the No. 1 priority. In the early days of Survivor, I paid no attention to my skin, and after several years, I could see the toll the sun was starting to take. So now it's zinc and another layer of sunscreen on top of that. Then a shirt, shorts, and Survivor cap and I'm ready to go.

9:30 a.m. The Immunity challenge is underway. We have a surprisingly well-scheduled shoot, considering there are nearly 400 crew, a dozen departments, 40 boats and barges, 40 cameras, drones, trucks, cars, golf carts, and a helicopter.

Jeff Probst behind the scenes with cast and crew during Survivor 37: David vs. Goliath.

11:00 a.m. Travel to rehearsal. My daily commute is a boat ride to one of the many islands in the Mamanuca island chain in Fiji. We do the same thing every day, and yet it never becomes routine. My office is the ocean, and my work uniform is shorts and a safari shirt. It's a pretty amazing way to make a living while pursuing your passion.

1:00 p.m. Check in with the producers. Our communications department makes it easy for me to stay in contact with all the other departments during the day. I have an iPhone, local phone, and walkie-talkie with me at all times. This allows us to monitor the show even while sleeping.

Cast and crew behind the scenes in San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua, for Survivor 29.

2:30 p.m. Lunch break. There's not a lot of processed foods or candy out here, but once you eliminate them from your diet, you really don't miss them. I end up craving a bowl of berries during the day. Of course, I get back home to the States and instantly order a burrito with guac and chips.

3:45 p.m. Our second challenge rehearsal is underway. Meanwhile, our reality teams are still shooting on the beaches. We shoot all day, every day.

Jeff Probst kicks off a challenge for Survivor 38.

5:00 p.m. At the end of each day, we have a creative meeting to make sure we are all on the same page with what is happening tomorrow. Then tribal council starts at sunset around 7 p.m. and goes until about 10 p.m.

6:15 p.m. Our philosophy regarding free time is pretty simple. If you aren't working, you can pretty much do whatever you want: surfing, kite surfing, fishing, yoga, snorkeling, kayaking, paddleboarding, or just sleeping in. It's easy to carve out your own personal time to do whatever inspires or re-energizes you. I am very good at taking alone time.

Jeff Probst extinguishes Wendy Diaz's torch at tribal council on the fifth and sixth episode of Survivor: Edge of Extinction.

7:00 p.m. Tonight is our annual art department party. It's one of the few nights where everybody puts on a nice shirt or dress and comes together to socialize and celebrate. We build an art gallery at base camp where crew members display pieces they've been working on all season. It's surprisingly civilized, very fun, and a great bonding event for everyone.

10:00 p.m. Tonight is a rare late night! Typically, I'm sound asleep by 8 p.m. because when the sun sets on the island, it's pitch black. My house is right on the water so I go to sleep listening to the sounds of the ocean. Location life gives you a lot of time to think. I started this job in 2000.

Season 38 contestants reunite for the finale.

I'm closing in on 20 years and nearly everything about me has changed as a result of my time on this show. I've experienced so many different cultures in different parts of the world. I've gained perspective on the importance of compassion and empathy. I met my amazing wife, and I've been given the chance to be a parent. And I'm part of the team that makes Survivor. I'm living my dream! And tomorrow I get to wake up and do it again.

READ MORE: Host Jeff Probst Reveals His Top 10 Favorite Moments In Survivor History

Photo Credits: Robert Voets/CBS (Probst); Timothy Kuratek/CBS (Probst); Courtesy of Jeff Probst (Breakfast); Robert Voets/CBS (Survivor 37); CBS Broadcasting (Challenge); Robert Voets/CBS (Tribal Council); Monty Brinton/CBS (Survivor 38).

Originally published in Watch! Magazine, September-October 2019.

Watch the season premiere of Survivor: Island of the Idols on Wednesday, Sept. 25 at 8/7c on CBS and CBS All Access.