Stranded with a Million Dollars: Alex Apple Represents South Burlington on MTV

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Thursday February 16, 2017

On a remote island in the South Pacific, Alex Apple took the ultimate endurance test with nine other adventurers when they were stranded with nothing but the clothes on their backs. Well, that and one million dollars in cash. An unusual and daunting scenario that could only be fodder for the next reality television show to hit the airwaves. Apple’s adventure is part of the new series titled Stranded with a Million Dollars which premieres February 21 on MTV. The premise of the show contains elements of the fan favorite Survivor, the CBS hit which is in its 34th season, but ups the ante by marooning the contestants with the coveted million dollars. In addition, the show utilizes retrofitted drone cameras and robo-cam technology for principle photography, thus enhancing the sense of isolation for the participants. Apple says, “I looked at it as an adventure and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Apple, who appears on the show as a South Burlington resident, will be a well-known face to the community. Originally from Nashville, he moved to Vermont in 2014 to work at WCAX as a reporter and fill-in anchor. He spent much of 2016 covering the presidential election, which included going on the road to key states such as Iowa, South Carolina, and Washington, D. C. “WCAX was a wonderful place to work,” says the reporter, “and I feel blessed to have come to Vermont, made so many close friends and discovered a place that I may not have otherwise ever come to.”

Apple explains he came upon the opportunity to be in the new reality show because he is a longtime fan of Survivor; he even applied to be a contestant when he was in high school. “I always thought it was interesting how cast members managed to stand out or be unique in their casting videos. One night as I was watching some, I happened across a casting call for an ‘Untitled Survivor Adventure Show.’ I sent in some basic facts about myself, a photo, and they called me the next day. Four rounds of interviews later, and I was bound for a remote island in the Pacific,” says Apple. To be more specific, he and the other nine contestants did not know where they were going until they got to the Los Angeles airport. Turns out they were headed to Fiji. Apple adds, “A category two cyclone hit the island the day we arrived, so that made for an interesting start to the experience.”

Unlike Survivor, no one is “voted off the island” on Stranded and instead, according to Apple, the trials and tribulations of the experience are geared to make the contestants quit. He explains, “There are a series of challenges, things called temptations and journeys every four days that are designed to test you both physically and mentally. As cast members, we did not even know the rules before we landed on the beach. We found out over the first couple of days just like the audience will.”
The million dollars comes into play as the stranded cast members are not given any tools, shelter or food. Anything deemed necessary for survival can be purchased with the money, but as Apple clarifies, it is not a simple process as “Majority rules, so you know that creates some conflict.” In addition, supplies are quite costly, according to the production, “think 30 thousand for a tent.” The participants are free to leave the island at any point by shooting a flare gun indicating they’re ready to throw in the towel and leave their pride and accumulated cash behind.

Apple, an athletic guy who loves to compete, says he tried to learn as much about survival as he could in preparation. “I did know how to start primitive fires before going. That was my best skill, using a bow drill to get flame.” When asked if he had any medical issues due to the conditions and the challenges while filming, he slyly responded, “Can’t say yet, you’ll have to watch the show to find out,” adding, “it gets wild!”

Anyone who watches reality competition shows knows that the social game is just as or often more important than the game’s physical components. Apple, who describes himself as naturally outgoing, says, “I like strategic thinking. I think I played the best social game and it set me up well. We’ll see what America thinks.” He says he left the experience with several friendships that will endure, “Everyone came from such different backgrounds and it was exciting to get to meet people from all different walks of life.”

The friendship part may sound nice, but the reality as Apple puts it, “People were really pushed to the brink both physically and mentally and some people just cannot take it.” He, himself, lost 22 pounds doing the show, “I really tested the bounds of borderline starvation.” He describes being nervous before filming about being excessively hungry, but adds, “Little did I know that hunger and surviving is more a mental test than even physical.” Apple reports he gained the weight back quickly, but admits, “It takes some time afterwards to come down off that paranoia and anxiety.”

Bound contractually to not reveal the details, viewers will have to watch the 10-part series to find out how the South Burlington competitor fared in Fiji. In the meantime, Apple offers his philosophical take on the rigorous experience, “I learned three things. First, the best gift you can give someone is your time. Every day is precious and that cliché is something that so many young people do not fully understand until they go through a tough experience or just get older. I got closer to God and learned how to trust in him. The last lesson I learned is never to argue with a fool, because onlookers may not be able to tell the difference.”

After reporting on the election last fall, Apple decided to move to Pennsylvania to be closer to his girlfriend who he met while in Vermont when she was a reporter at WPTZ. His future aspirations include continuing his career in journalism and beginning a career in real estate investment. When asked if there are more reality show excursions ahead for the can-do Apple, he aptly replies, “Never say never.”