An American Idol mentor takes on new jobs and new challenges

It’s said that growth occurs when someone steps out of their comfort zone. If that’s the case, then Bobby Bones is a giant among mere mortals.

Indeed, danger is the name of the game for the award-winning radio personality, bestselling author and American Idol in-house mentor as he takes on jobs not for the faint of heart in Breaking Bobby Bones.

Breaking Bobby BonesNational Geographic CanadaPremiering Monday on National Geographic (before settling into its regular Sunday timeslot), the half-hour series takes Bones to far-flung corners of the United States to attempt tasks such as being a stunt performer in Hollywood alongside one of the few women of colour in the industry, kayaking Idaho’s Payette River blindfolded with a blind former Naval petty officer and playing para-sled hockey in Denver with a military veteran who lost both legs while on deployment.

Along the way, he learns the stories of those he meets, all of whom have surmounted a personal obstacle to get where they are. Not unlike Bones’ own troubled background.

“I think the best thing that I have in my career, in my tool belt, is empathy,” Bones explains. “And this kind of rooted how the show started. I always felt alone in how I grew up; meaning, I grew up with a mom who was an addict, an alcoholic, who died in her 40s. I never had a dad. He left when I was young... So, I’d gone through all the stuff and I always felt like, ‘Why me?’ ”

“I was resentful of that until I got older and started to realize this is why me,” he continues. “Like, this is the reason I’m doing this, is to be able to go out and share my story. Well, as I started to not feel alone, I thought there have got to be other people out there that have been through a bunch, come out the other side, and want to help others as well.”

In the opener, Bones faces his own greatest fear—heights—as he dangles 4,000 feet above the floor of the Grand Canyon to clean the clear-glass underside of the Skywalk, guided by Mike Duran, who escaped his own background of gang violence to become a rope access technician.

Though he felt the fear, Bones persevered—but his fiancée was a wreck watching him. “She started crying because she could hear how terrified I was,” he recalls. “But once I’m done... I look at the time taken to pull off a difficult task vs. the time that you get to celebrate and be proud of yourself. And for me... it took three days to go hang out with Mike and swing over the Grand Canyon. But I’ve had every day since then to look back and go, ‘Man, I did that? I can do more.’ And I kind of take that into my life.”

Breaking Bobby Bones debuts Monday at 7 p.m. & 7:30 p.m. (repeating at 10 p.m. & 10:30 p.m.) on National Geographic