From PEOPLE Magazine Click to enlarge
LET'S MAKE A DEAL
He's been an actor, comic and talk show host. So why is Mandel, at 50, taking on his first game show gig? As emcee of NBC's hit Deal or No Deal— in which players must decide whether to swap a briefcase full of cash for one with as much as $1 million or as little as 1 cent—Mandel says, "I can be funny. I get to work in front of an audience, and I can improvise."

YOU BET YOUR LIFE
"Ultimately their choices could change their lives," he says of Deal's contestants." It's heart-wrenching because they need the money. I want them to win. But I don't know what case holds what. All I can do is point out their odds."

FEAR FACTOR
"You wouldn't believe the tension," says Mandel. "I've taped 15 shows, and I'd say 90 percent of the men have been brought to tears. I've seen people get weak in the knees, they can't catch their breath and we have to stop taping."

TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES
"One woman was offered $140,000," says Mandel, "but her husband said, 'No deal.' She went home with $25,000. Her body language after the show definitely wasn't warm and fuzzy."

I'VE GOT A SECRET
The players don't know Mandel has obsessive-compulsive disorder. "I don't want them to be uncomfortable," he says. "They hug me and hold me. I just don't shake hands." He adds: "I wash mine 20 times a day. My wife, Terry, and I have [often told] our three kids, 'Don't do anything Daddy does.'" Still, at the end of a stressful day, "when the warm water is flowing over my hands, I'm in heaven."