'Amazing Race' Host Phil Keoghan: Season 25 Has "Most Powerful Prize Ever"

The Amazing Race returns with 11 new competitors, a big new twist — and a new night.

The long-running CBS reality competition moves from Sunday to Friday nights this season, with the 25th installment set to debut at 8 p.m. Friday.

"We're excited about the new night," host Phil Keoghan tells The Hollywood Reporter. "We've heard a lot of parents say, 'Thank you so much,' because we don't have to worry about football overruns anymore and keeping the kids up late. It's such a family show, and this will get rid of a lot of the arguments parents were having with kids about bedtime on Sundays."

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Among the competitors are surfer Bethany Hamilton and her husband, Adam Dirks, along with a pair of Survivor alums: Keith Tollefson and Whitney Duncan, who met on the South Pacific edition and are now engaged. (THR has an exclusive look at the opening credits, above.) At the start, the competitors find out that the team that finishes the first leg first will receive what is being called "The Save," which allows them to save themselves if they face elimination at any point during the competition.

Ahead of the show's two-hour season premiere, Keoghan talked to THR about what viewers can expect.

There's a new twist this season. What kind of impact does that have on the Race?

It's the most powerful Amazing Race prize ever. Essentially, if you win it, you become almighty and powerful — kind of like the king of a country. When the teams heard about it, they were very motivated.

You also kicked off the season in Times Square in May, and invited fans to come out to the start of the Race.

What really makes this season so different is that from the start, we really embraced social media. For so long, we tried to keep secret what we were doing, where we were, how we got there. It was becoming more and more of a challenge because the world is not the way it was when we first started. People weren't tweeting and Instagramming. Now people are literally shooting video of us and firing it up around the world in real time. Personally I think it is very exciting. I don't think anybody is put off watching the show because they see that we are in a particular place. If anything, it makes it more exciting: "I can't wait to see what happened when they came through here." They get caught up in that energy. The energy in Times Square was palpable, and so many Race fans turned up who never had an opportunity to see that before. It's something we hope to keep doing on an ongoing basis.

Let's talk about the teams.

We have such a good combination and mix of teams this year — some sweethearts, sisters, firefighters, scientists, mother and daughter …

You also have a couple of Survivor alums, and interestingly, this season Survivor features a pair of Race alums ("Twinnies" Nadiya and Natalie Anderson). Do you think Keith and Whitney have an advantage?

It's such a different experience. From what I hear about Survivor, there is more downtime, more thinking time, more strategy time, more alliance time, where you are spending a lot of time thinking about how you are going to outwit and outplay somebody. On Race, there really isn't time for that. I would venture to say it's much more on-the-spot thinking and reacting to what is happening and less long-term planning.

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How did Bethany Hamilton come to be on the show?

I don't know exactly, but I do know that having her on the show has created such a new wave of interest with young women. It's quite staggering, actually. She is such an inspiration to many young women in particular that she's going to bring a huge amount of interest. She doesn't talk about the fact that she doesn't have one of her arms; she talks about what she wants to do in life and gets on with it. You'll see her kick some serious butt. If anybody is foolish enough to misjudge her, they'll find out the hard way that this young woman is not messing around.

She's also obviously very athletic. Does that give her an edge?

It's more about her mindset. We've had very capable, fit, strong people — from the military, from professional sports teams, personal trainers, people who have run marathons — ultimately, I don't believe that is the key ingredient to doing well on the Race. It really is a blend of brains and brawn and determination and people really wanting to win. And Bethany is one of those people.

What can you tell us about the challenges we'll see this season?

Right out of the game, the teams head to the U.S. Virgin Islands. From there, they go to England and at some point end up at a Parliamentarian pancake race. People do really nutty, crazy things. One of the cool places we got to go was the Shetland Islands; we've never been there before. It's very isolated, way up in the North Sea, and a very rugged part of the world.

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