Australian Survivor is one of the toughest reality shows on television.
And three former contestants have broken their silence this week to expose what the conditions are really like behind the scenes.
Lee Carseldine, El Rowland and Matt Tarrant spoke to Mamamia about some of the program’s dirty secrets, including the audition process.
No toothbrush, no soap and no sleeps for days at a time: Australian Survivor stars reveal they are only paid $90-a-day as they expose shocking behind-the-scenes secrets of the series
Lee revealed contestants are subjected to a thorough casting process, including individual and group auditions, as well as psychological exams and blood tests.
He added that would-be Survivors also have to participate in physical challenges to to see how they would handle the harsh conditions.
In past seasons, Australian Survivor has been filmed in remote locations in Fiji and Samoa.
Shredded: Lee (pictured) confessed that he did train hard physically for the show, while Matt opted not to do any physical preparation at all.
While each of the contestants said they prepared differently for the show, all of them acknowledged that the training was a gruelling process.
Lee confessed to hitting the gym hard, while El said she opted for a stringent detox to prepare herself for her limited diet.
‘I detoxed from caffeine, lip balm, sunnies [and] alcohol,’ she revealed, adding that she also ‘tried to put on weight’ before filming.
Training: Stars of the show get basic survival training, learning how to build a shelter, start a fire and catch a fish
Survival training from experts
Lee acknowledged the ‘open secret’ that all contestants receive a crash course in survival training to cope with life in extremis.
He explained that participants are taught how to build a shelter, start a fire and catch fish before they land on the remote island.
In the crash course, the Survivors are also taught what not to eat in order to avoid potential sickness, or worse, a medical emergency.
Not a priority: Lee (pictured) confirmed that contestants could choose their clothing, but admitted that they could only take five articles of clothing
Australian Survivor stars turn up with their ‘day one’ outfit, but then are given five approved articles of clothing for the entire production.
Lee said that while contestants get to pick their own clothes, they are encouraged to choose what they would wear in everyday life.
‘Otherwise, you get 24 Bear Grylls lookalikes out there,’ Lee said.
‘Just stink’: Lee admitted that with no soap and no toothbrush, everyone smelled bad
Lee confirmed that contestants aren’t provided with soap or toothbrushes, meaning their personal hygiene suffers in the camp.
He said the Survivors ‘just stink’ throughout filming, and admitted the stench became a major talking point for the cast.
Tired: El said the nights in the jungle were the worst, with the camp mates taking long periods without any sleep.
El said that nights in the jungle were the worst, with the campmates going long stretches without any sleep at all.
Lee confirmed this, saying that nights were often ‘cold, wet and miserable’, and that ‘spooning’ other tribe members was a necessity.
He added that mosquitoes and rain also made it difficult for them to get a good night’s sleep in the camp.
Long and draining: Tribal council is one of the hardest experiences on the show, with it normally taking a couple of hours to film late in the night
What is Tribal Council really like?
Tribal Council is one of the most emotionally draining experiences on Australian Survivor, according to the former participants.
Lee said they often take several hours to film, and do not normally start until late in the evening, around 8pm.
Pay: The cast of the show got $90-a-day, which is much less than Married At First Sight cast reportedly got $150-a-day
The 2016 and 2018 cast members claimed they were paid $90 per day.
This is significantly less than the Married At First Sight cast, who reportedly receive around $150 per day in expenses.
And while the pay certainly isn’t much, all of the contestants do have the chance to win $500,000 in prize money.
‘You’re basically being paid less than $100 to be wet, cold and hungry,’ Lee said.
Australian Survivor continues Sunday at 7.30pm on Channel 10
Survivor Australia Champions Vs Contenders continues on Channel Ten, Sunday, 7.30pm