Bear Grylls to Run Wild With Chinese Celebrities

Bear Grylls 2015 - H

Pushing his brand into the world's most populous nation, the TV adventurer is scheduled to shoot segments with a Chinese tech billionaire, former NBA star Yao Ming and Olympic swimming sensation Fu Yuanhui.

Bear Grylls is bringing his insect- and rattlesnake-eating survival skills to China.

Last week, the host of NBC's Running Wild With Bear Grylls began reaching out to some of China's biggest celebrities over Weibo, China's Twitter-like social media platform, where he's amassed nearly 2 million followers.

The British adventurer's first target was Robin Li, the billionaire founder and CEO of search giant Baidu, often described as China's Google. He followed with public invites to former NBA star Yao Ming and Olympic swimmer Fu Yuanhui, whose out-of-pool antics made her China's most-buzzed-about personality of the Rio Games.

Pitching the tech tycoon, Grylls wrote in English and Chinese: “I understand that you always look positively at all challenges, which you take as motivations for progress in life. But the wilderness is something that I love and would like to help you explore!” He added: "I ensure that this will be the most difficult and most unforgettable journey you have ever had in your life."

Two days later, Li, 47 years old and China's sixth-richest man, accepted the invite over Baidu Tieba, his own company's social media service, posting a picture of himself eating what looked like bugs, or worms, from a leaf.

"I like this kind of feeling that you won’t be able to predict what is going to happen in the next minute, and it is a super cool thing to have a chance to get close to Mother Nature and to have an adventure in unknown areas,” the tech tycoon wrote.

According to a Wall Street Journal source, Grylls and Li will shoot an adventure together in a remote region of China in late September, and it will air later this year. It wasn't immediately clear which TV network will be producing and airing Grylls' exploits in China, and whether they are at all connected to Running Wild. Grylls’ production company couldn't be reached for comment.

Last year, Grylls partnered with China’s Dragon TV on a short local series called Survivor Games, taking eight Chinese celebrities into the jungles of China's Guizhou Province for a two-week shoot, which resulted in actress Janine Chang eating bugs and Han Xue trying raw bulls' testicles.

On Friday, Grylls Weiboed an invitation to Yao Ming, writing, "You are the exact warrior whom the wild adventure always tries to call. Come and join us, Yao!"

The seven-foot, six-inch former center was quick to take up the challenge, replying from the social media account of the Shanghai Sharks, which he owns, and explaining is interest in taking part: "We are all so small in front of Mother Nature, so we need to rediscover our instincts and let our offspring learn how to coexist in harmony with nature and animals."

Swimmer Fu Yuanhui, whose earnest and excited reaction to winning a bronze in Rio made her an overnight celebrity back home, replied to Grylls' invite by simply saying, "Pick me up." Grylls responded with a smiley face.

Running Wild With Bear Grylls is currently in its third season in the U.S. The reality series previously has welcomed a slew of celebrity guests, including Kate Winslet, Channing Tatum, Shaquille O'Neal, Zac Efron and President Obama.