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Tough as Nails season 5 cast and challenges revealed

Tough as Nails season 5 cast and challenges revealed

The hardest working reality competition TV show is back, and has moved north of the border for its fifth season. Tough as Nails has left Los Angeles behind and set up shop in Hamilton, Ontario, for season 5. The Canadian setting is appropriate, seeing as how the show will also be welcoming its first Canucks to the cast — four of them, actually.

EW has the exclusive cast reveal and look at the 12 competitors vying for $200,000 and a pick-up truck when the CBS series returns with a special two-hour premiere on July 2 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. It's a diverse group of Americans and Canadians that includes a motorcycle builder, a CO2 technician, a firefighter, and a "jack of all trades."

The season will begin with competitors cutting, grinding, and torching 500 pounds of scrap metal, with the first two finishers earning the right to choose their teammates for the competing Dirty Hands and Savage Crew teams. While speaking with EW, host Phil Keoghan also spilled lots more intel on the upcoming season, which you can read below while perusing the new cast photos and bios. You can also see the new cast in action in an exclusive video above.

The cast of Season 5: Dustin Bradford, Kenji Ngo, Jessica Hayes, Ben Dempsey, Carolina Paredes, Host Phil Keoghan, Akeela Al-Hameed, Cheryl Lieteau, Paul Hamilton, Marcus Jones, Carly Steiman, Yesi Reyes, and Todd Anderson from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS
The cast of Season 5: Dustin Bradford, Kenji Ngo, Jessica Hayes, Ben Dempsey, Carolina Paredes, Host Phil Keoghan, Akeela Al-Hameed, Cheryl Lieteau, Paul Hamilton, Marcus Jones, Carly Steiman, Yesi Reyes, and Todd Anderson from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS

Matt Barnes/CBS Phil Keoghan and the cast of 'Tough as Nails' season 5

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Why did you move season 5 from Los Angeles to Hamilton, Ontario, and how it was different filming up there?

PHIL KEOGHAN: Well, we really wanted to get out of L.A. earlier than we did. We did the first four seasons in L.A., and primarily the reason that we did it here is Los Angeles has a ton of challenges and real-world job sites to offer in a very small amount of space. But, because of the logistics of the show and because of Covid restrictions and all those protocols, it really did have an effect on us not wanting to overcomplicate things by trying to go to a new and different place and make our lives that much more challenging.

So when those protocols eased off, we started looking at different places that we could go to. And the one that really stood out was the idea of basically going to a place that's the steel capital of Canada, and a place that's known as the Hammer, and a place that's known for having a lot of top workers there.

The other big motivation for Canada was the fact that Canadians really made it clear to us they wanted to be included. They were like, "We are a tough country. We've got hardworking men and women, and we want an opportunity to compete!" So it sort of dovetailed perfectly with us and allowing Canadians to be part of Tough as Nails.

Anything you noticed about that in terms of the casting and getting those Canadian competitors into the mix? Did it feel any different at all in terms of that?

Absolutely. The pool of people that are applying suddenly has increased by the 30-something million Canadians that were available to pick from. So suddenly it's all of the United States and Canada. And so the caliber of applications absolutely increased. The way I would describe this season is it's much more of a Top Gun season. The standard of the contestants is next level.

There's a healthy rivalry between Americans and Canadians. It happens on the ice in hockey, as you know. The world's No. 1 form of entertainment ... is sports. There's nothing that comes even close. And we've brought it out into the trades. So there's definitely a good bit of banter between Canadians and Americans.

You have three competitors this season in the 55-and-up age bracket, which is something you don't normally see on reality competition shows. And what makes it especially unique is considering how physical this show is. So tell me about your casting philosophy when it comes to age and experience.

I love that we can have people who are in their twenties all the way through to their fifties. We've had people in their sixties. Being the best of the best in your chosen trade is not an age thing. If anything, you might be young and hungry and really, really fit, but you don't have the life skills, you don't have the experience. So that can get balanced out with somebody who maybe isn't as fast, but has decades of life skills that they can apply and use and be competitive. That's one of the things I love about it. Sometimes being older is actually an asset.

The other thing is it was very important for us to have a competition where men and women were treated equally. We wanted to do a show where there wasn't a men's division and a women's division. We wanted to have a show where men and women, young and old, are able to use their physical and mental skills to be able to compete. And that was hugely important to us.

What are some of the challenges we can look forward to this season?

The Gauntlet — that's the final challenge with the final three — is brutal. And we are in Hamilton, Ontario, known as a steel town, so we're going to be doing stuff with steel. We are going to be in a dry dock with these huge ships that get repaired. We're going to be doing some sod work and working with soil. We've got access to what I believe is the biggest zinc facility in all of North America. They literally shut down the entire zinc factory for us to be able to take it over.

One of the challenges that I've been wanting to do for a long time is to get out and do a pick-up of fruit, so we went to this beautiful apple orchard and we have them racing side by side picking up apples. Another challenge that I've been really wanting to do for a long time is sort of inspired by the Supermarket Sweep show.

Now we're talkin'!

We had them go into this massive hardware store in Canada and they let us take over the whole store. So we had the teams running through the aisles. We had drone cameras flying all through the and camera operators on roller blades following them. And literally after an hour and a half of shopping and picking up all the inventory, it came down to like three seconds.

The competition was very, very tight all season. We also get to ignite some explosives in a big quarry. We have a payback episode where we used all the skills of our cast to give back and to do something for other people. Of course, we are in Canada, so there's timber involved, and our penultimate episode is the Battle of the Trades, where the teams in the final team challenge go head-to-head against each other. And then we get the final three heading into the Gauntlet, which is absolutely brutal.

Any other new wrinkles this season?

We do have a bit of a shock start with the teams immediately out of the gate. We've never paired them up right out of the gate and we did that this season. And it definitely got a great reaction. [Laughs]

MEET THE CAST OF TOUGH AS NAILS SEASON 5

Name: Paul Hamilton
Job: Maintenance Supervisor
Age: 56
Hometown: Airdrie, Alberta, Canada

Paul Hamilton from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS
Paul Hamilton from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS

Matt Barnes/CBS Paul Hamilton from 'Tough as Nails'

Name: Carolina Paredes
Job: Motorcycle Builder
Age: 42
Hometown: Houston, Texas

Carolina Paredes from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS
Carolina Paredes from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS

Matt Barnes/CBS Carolina Paredes from 'Tough as Nails'

Name: Dustin Bradford
Job: Fire Fighter
Age: 34
Current Residence: Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

Dustin Bradford from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS
Dustin Bradford from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS

Matt Barnes/CBS Dustin Bradford from 'Tough as Nails'

Name: Marcus Jones
Job: CO2 Technician
Age: 49
Hometown: Fort Worth, Texas

Marcus Jones from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS
Marcus Jones from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS

Matt Barnes/CBS Marcus Jones from 'Tough as Nails'

Name: Jessica Hayes
Job: Remodeling Contractor
Age: 35
Current Residence: Cedar Park, Texas

Jessica Hayes from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS
Jessica Hayes from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS

Matt Barnes/CBS Jessica Hayes from 'Tough as Nails'

Name: Kenji Ngo
Job: Jack of All Trades
Age: 39
Hometown: Delaware, Ohio

Kenji Ngo from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS
Kenji Ngo from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS

Matt Barnes/CBS Kenji Ngo from 'Tough as Nails'

Name: Cheryl Lieteau
Job: Carpenter
Age: 55
Hometown: Dudley, Mass.

Cheryl Lieteau from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS
Cheryl Lieteau from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS

Matt Barnes/CBS Cheryl Lieteau from 'Tough as Nails'

Name: Ben Dempsey
Job: Tile Setter
Age: 33
Current Residence: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada

Ben Dempsey from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS
Ben Dempsey from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS

Matt Barnes/CBS Ben Dempsey from 'Tough as Nails'

Name: Akeela Al-Hameed
Job: Fire Fighter
Age: 34
Hometown: Fridley, Minn.

Akeela Al-Hameed from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS
Akeela Al-Hameed from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS

Matt Barnes/CBS Akeela Al-Hameed from 'Tough as Nails'

Name: Todd Anderson
Job: Toolmaker
Age: 58
Hometown: Janesville, Wisc.

Todd Anderson from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS
Todd Anderson from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS

Matt Barnes/CBS Todd Anderson from 'Tough as Nails'

Name: Yesi Reyes
Job: Ironworker
Age: 31
Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif.

Yesi Reyes from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS
Yesi Reyes from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS

Matt Barnes/CBS Yesi Reyes from 'Tough as Nails'

Name: Carly Steiman
Job: Electrician
Age: 32
Hometown: North Vancouver, Canada

Carly Steiman from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS
Carly Steiman from the CBS original series TOUGH AS NAILS

Matt Barnes/CBS Carly Steiman from 'Tough as Nails'

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