“Deal or No Deal Island”'s Joe Manganiello Almost Went on the 'Baby Version' of “Naked and Afraid” (Exclusive)

The actor tells PEOPLE the survival show recruited him, but he thought "that's best served for people who are professional survivalists"

<p>Patrick Ecclesine/NBC</p> Joe Manganiello

Patrick Ecclesine/NBC

Joe Manganiello

Deal or No Deal Island host Joe Manganiello almost appeared on a different reality competition show.

“I actually was asked to be on Naked and Afraid,” the actor, 47, tells PEOPLE. “They weren't offering me the 40 or 60-day. It was like, the baby version where it's like 12 days or something. But even then it was like, I think that's best served for people who are professional survivalists.”

While Manganiello considers himself a game show “freak,” Naked and Afraid might not be the show he’d choose to go on.

Naked and Afraid is a whole other thing,” Manganiello says. “That's like, hardcore survival!”

Related: Joe Manganiello Says He Almost Competed on Survivor as 'Joe the Construction Worker'

Manganiello did, however, try to land a spot on another survival show: Survivor.

“There was a moment where I had a strategy and I thought I could win,” he says. “There's a DVD floating around somewhere that is my Survivor audition tape. But you couldn't be an actor. I was working construction at the time, the summer in L.A. and so I posed as Joe the construction worker from Pittsburgh. Somewhere there's me jackhammering and mixing cement.”

Though he never got to live out his Survivor dreams, Manganiello is staying involved in the reality television world as the host of Deal or No Deal Island. The Magic Mike star describes the series as Deal or No Deal with the spirit of “an action-adventure series like Survivor.”

<p>Monty Brinton/NBC</p> Joe Manganiello with 'Deal or No Deal Island' assistants Kamari Love and Ben Crofchick

Monty Brinton/NBC

Joe Manganiello with 'Deal or No Deal Island' assistants Kamari Love and Ben Crofchick

Monday’s premiere episode saw Kim throw Aron into the first game of Deal or No Deal against the Banker after winning the challenge. Aron, a 26-year-old accountant, knocked out a lot of the high value cases right at the top of the game and turned down multiple offers from the Banker, including the final one. Luckily, the amount in the case Aron picked ended up being higher than the Banker’s last offer, keeping Aron in the game.

Still, someone still had to go home, and Aron chose Brantzen to be that person. Boston resident Rob Marino had a target on his back as a previous Survivor winner, but he and Aron formed an alliance.

Manganiello didn’t want to out Rob’s reality TV history at the start of the game, rather, he wanted the competition to unfold naturally. He applied the same idea to mentioning that The Real Housewives of Atlanta’s Claudia Jordan appeared on the original Deal or No Deal as a briefcase model.

“Some of the contestants knew who they were, some didn't,” Manganiello says. “It was something that I wanted to make sure that would stay preserved until the contestants figured it out. We wanted to put it in their hands and see how they were going to deal with it. Because at its core, it's a social experiment.”

<p>Monty Brinton/NBC</p> Joe Manganiello

Monty Brinton/NBC

Joe Manganiello

The True Blood alum called that “a really fun dynamic to watch.”

“I wanted to see how that played out because there were moments where the sheets got pulled off and then everyone realizes and the target goes up,” he continues. “But you also have to imagine that for that person, their game is going to have to go up. They're going to have to show that, because of their past experience, that's valuable to the group. But they also have to watch their back because they know that that's going to create enemies.”

Manganiello shares that he “was wired” while filming Deal or No Deal Island watching how everything unfolded.

“I couldn't sleep most nights, none of us could,” the Pittsburgh native says. “We were crazy because of what happens on this show. It's so exciting.”

Related: Joe Manganiello Calls Deal or No Deal Island Hosting Persona an 'Amalgamation of' These 4 People (Exclusive)

Next, Manganiello will star in Nonnas opposite Lorainne Bracco, Drea de Matteo, Talia Shire and Vince Vaughn. He describes the movie as “a celebration of being Italian.”

“And I became an Italian citizen last year, so I know what it means to be Italian,” Manganiello says. “I don't get to play Italian all the time because I think if you put me into a lineup, I look like their mutant cousin who's a foot taller. There's obviously something mixed in. So to be able to get in there and work on such a funny comedy, it really felt like this great family affair. I'm excited for people to see that.”

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Deal or No Deal Island airs Mondays at 9:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

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