Twelve contestants. Six robot residents. Two hosts. One victor.
After months of speculation and years of planning, Israel's buzzed-about new reality show 2025 premiered on Keshet 12 on Sunday evening.
And just like the rest of the country, the 12 contestants who entered the "mini city" built for the show had no idea what they were getting themselves into until the live premiere.
"There's been a lot of talk, a lot of rumors, what is this thing?" asked co-host Corrin Gideon during the live kickoff for the show. "Finally, here it is: 2025."
Gideon's co-host (and future Eurovision host) Erez Tal was ready to finally tell the secrets of the show.
"For the first time in Israeli television history," Tal said, "The contestants have no idea what they're about to walk into - we didn't even tell them."
Despite all the buzz surrounding the show, it didn't post impressive ratings - just 21.1% of the viewing public - though it was still the most-watched show of the night. But part of that was due to its lengthy run - 2.5 hours - as tens of thousands of people dropped off as the show dragged on. But both viewers and reviewers labeled the show boring and over-complicated, with too many rules and regulations to follow.
By midnight on Sunday, 12 contestants were installed in the compact city that Keshet built on the outskirts of Yavne: "It's a mini city, but it has everything," Tal said. That includes an all-seeing "man in the wall" who is there to narrate and guide the competitors, and six robot aides who man the city's different amenities.
"This is a city - not just any city," said the man in the wall. "It is smart, innovative and user-friendly. It has everything you need and more. But there's a game to be played."
What exactly is the game?
Turns out, it's all about making cash. Every participant was handed NIS 12,000 on Sunday night, loaded into a smart watch. Their job is to keep that number on the rise. But while they try and make money, they'll also need to spend it on housing and food and other amenities and deals. And in real time, every shekel they earn or spend will be on display for all the competitors, and all the viewers at home to see.
As the game progresses, a giant chart will rank each contestant by their net worth. The competitor with the least money each week will be evicted from the city, and at the end, the richest contestant will win.
Unlike similar reality shows, the contestants aren't totally cut off from the outside world. They can call home, and get updates on the news - at a price, of course.
The 12 competitors who entered the mini city on Monday come from all walks of life across the State of Israel. They range in age from 20 to 67, and include native Israelis and immigrants, gay and straight, married, single, parents and pet owners. The city's new residents include those who grew up with everything they ever needed, and those who grew up with nothing, as well as those who made something of themselves, and those who are still struggling.
While 12 residents walked into the city, 16 arrived at the show on Sunday thinking they were about to begin a new journey. But two by two the contestants were presented to the viewers at home, who voted to send one through to the house. Each contestant who was sent inside was asked how much money out of their NIS 12,000 they would give to the other contestant to bring them along. The four who were granted the most money joined the first eight competitors inside. So by the end of the night, the financial hiearchy was already in place, with some contestants keeping more than NIS 10,000, and others with less than NIS 2,000 to their name.
For the next three months, the contestants will battle to make money and rise to the top of the ranking. While the show will air during primetime several times a week on Keshet 12, viewers can also peek in on activity 24/7 on Channel 22 (Keshet's former home) or by buying an online subscription.
And what's the prize for whoever rises to the top?Only one of the most sought-after items in Israel: An apartment worth NIS 1.4 million.