'The Bachelor' creator on his long-running franchise: 'The romance space is ours'


Image Credit: Mark Wessels/ABC; Inset: Vince Bucci/Getty Images

It’s definitely good to be Mike Fleiss: Not only did the 15th edition of his reality show The Bachelor finish strong on Monday, ABC renewed the unscripted series for a 16th season and picked up The Bachelorette for a seventh (premiering May 23). The network has also granted a second season to Bachelor Pad, meaning it will have some form of Bachelor related programming on its schedule eight months out of the year.

Still in a party mood over Monday’s finale, Fleiss talked to EW about his new bachelorette, that spoiler sport Reality Steve, and why we’ll never see a complete unknown hand out roses ever again.

Why did you choose Ashley H. as your bachelorette? I don’t know, she’s kind of cool, she’s spunky and she’s got a lot personality. It’s also the first time we had an actual professional woman as a bachelorette. She’s not a party planner, she’s a dentist! [Editor’s note: She’s actually a 26-year-old dental student from Madawaska, Maine, but whatevs]. That’s a good step for us. I think it’s a cool good lesson for young ladies out there to see an accomplished woman still struggling to put the personal side of her life together. That’s something a lot of women can relate to. She will be a different kind of bachelorette!

Did you ask Chantal O’Brien? Yeah, Chantal quite possibly would have been our bachelorette, if she hadn’t not, quote-unquote,’ fallen in love with some goofball in Seattle. I’m sure they’ll be together forever.

What about Shawntel Newton, another fan favorite? Yeah, there were a lot of possibilities. We just felt like Ashley had the most fan appeal.

Reality Steve spent most of the season predicting that Chantal will be the winner. Once he owned up to being wrong, fans crowed that he had been `Fleiss’d.’ Did you or anyone involved in the show feed him misinformation? I wish I could take credit but he duped himself. He’s nuts, a goofball. He says these things with 100 percent conviction but he’s right only half of the time. It doesn’t matter that much to us, it’s just that he acts like he knows everything. He’s the Michele Bachmann of reality TV facts. But the leaks are not really coming from production. They’re coming from former cast members. That’s a hard thing to police. The best way to combat him is to let himself shoot himself in the foot.

How far along is casting for the next Bachelor Pad? It’s going to be good. We learned a lot from last season. We had some pretty wild characters come through. We start shooting The Bachelorette tonight, so some of these guys may end up being on Pad too [Sadly, he’s forbidden from divulging who’s joined so far].

Will you ever go back to casting unknown bachelors or bachelorettes? I can’t imagine how we would ever get back to that. This works so well for us. People are invested in these characters, they are who they are tuning in for. We have enough new blood by design. We have one returning character with 25 or 30 new faces. I don’t think we need new blood across the board. Can you imagine if it was someone not like Ashley, who was brand new? It makes the show feel small of all sudden. It would be hard to get people interested.

Will we ever see a bachelor or a bachelorette who is not white? I think Ashley is 1/16th Cherokee Indian, but I cannot confirm. But that is my suspicion! We really tried, but sometimes we feel guilty of tokenism. Oh, we have to wedge African-American chicks in there! We always want to cast for ethnic diversity, it’s just that for whatever reason, they don’t come forward. I wish they would.

You just finished your 15th edition of The Bachelor. What’s it feel like to survive for so long? There have been so many Bachelor rip-offs. We tell better stories, we cast more relatable people, and we’ve survived when others fell by the wayside. I’m so proud of that. I’m glad we have this big territory. The romance space is ours. We did 20 million viewers on Monday and have another cover of People magazine, despite the fact there is some really important stuff going on [in the world]. There’s a degree of absurdity to that. But I think our ratings are way higher. People watch this show in groups. We know virtually every college campus has a Bachelor screening party. We average good, solid ratings but the number of magazine covers we get sort of tells us a different story. You’d be hard pressed to find people in the country who didn’t know what happened on Monday. For a show to be on 10 years, it’s a miracle!

You know what else is a miracle? That you aren’t following me @EWLynette

Comments (82 total) Add your comment
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  • Lori

    How about a middle aged bachelorette who’s also plus sized?

    • Chandelier

      Then they would have to cast a bunch of old, overweight guys too, since honestly, why would any attractive man want to vie for her heart? And then no one would bother watching the show, since the fairy-tale, “perfect people having magical dates” element would be gone.

      Sorry, but looks-ism is one form of discrimination that will never go away.

    • squirk

      They did that. It was called More to Love. And since you obviously never heard of it, you’ve proven why it was only on for one season. Mike Fleiss produced it, too.

  • etm

    LOL no offense to party planners right? I didn’t know a dental student was a professional woman.

    • mel

      nope dental students aren’t….as a dentist, and having gone through all the rights of passage, you have to earn your title.

      • Kathy

        And she can just take off all this time to do stupid TV shows? Sounds like she’s a real dedicated student.

      • Leigh

        agreed! went to dental school too and you aren’t called one till you earn it. Not sure how she can take time off too..didn’t seem like an option when I was in school, she’s just wasting someone’s spot..at least she will be able to pay her loans off

    • sick of the negativity

      I think that an event planner is way more professional than an online dental student…what a goof and what a horrible choice for Bachelorette!!

      • Mark

        “Online” dental student? UPenn isn’t exactly the University of Phoenix. She has finished her classwork and has some clinical time to go through before she graduates and gets her DMD.

    • RK

      Seriously, that’s the best they could do? She’s a “professional”? What happened to finding people that were actually…working? Had great careers? Wasn’t that the original premise, that these “people” had it all except the man/woman?

      • Barb

        As a professional myself, I just don’t see how someone with a great career could take time off to film the show. You can’t just tell your clients or patients that you’ll be unavailabe for the next several months – they’ll find someone else.
        I’m surprised that Ashley H. can take this much time off from dental school.

      • RK

        Look at previous years — you had people that were millionaires or owned their own businesses — or were “princes”.

  • Candace

    So you think Chantal “quote-unquote,’ f[ell] in love with some goofball in Seattle. I’m sure they’ll be together forever.”

    Listen, you self absorbed half wit. The track record of love from your show is dismal. So she didn’t want to be the Bachelorette. Get over it. Get over yourself. Don’t be a douche about it.

    • etm

      Candace, asking him not to be a douche is like asking the sun not to shine!

    • Kathy

      I thought the same thing. He’s an idiot! And another thing, if his answers were transcribed exactly as he said them, he needs to goback to school (I’d recommend 3rd grade) and learn how to speak.

  • Bella

    Yes I am sure nobody but white people come forward to audition for The Bachelor! What a douche this guy is.

    • Marissa

      Agreed. He comes across as a giant douche.

      • Tyler

        HUGE DOUCHE.

        War Reality Steve.

    • Eliza

      Ugh! I don’t think he’s serious about the Cherokee thing, but it’s irritating that he blames minorities for not coming forward. I doubt that’s true, but even if it were, it’s natural that if you’re a minority you’ll be less inclined to be on a show that has been full of 90% white people for twenty-plus seasons!

  • AK

    “I think Ashley is 1/16th Cherokee Indian”

    That’s the best you can come up with? Ridiculous.

    • Summer

      Good God this person is a MORON.

      • Summer

        Er. That was not supposed to be in reply to you, that was supposed to be a general comment. Sorry!

    • Isadora

      Mukalla1978 on April 7, 2010 These major banks (Fed Reserve banks) list your credit card acncuot as assets. Why? Because the acncuot is created by a simple entry. No funds are actually taken from another place and reserved to pay for your purchases. Its fractional banking and its fraud. The banks create the vapor money and actually lose nothing because the bank created that money from nothing.

  • LOL

    This show is an affront to humanity.

  • slb

    No way the leaks coming from former cast members. He has some unhappy employees and he knows it. I would be unhappy to if I had to see his face everyday.

    • SLB

      Right? So you let former cast members on set to watch filming? Right.

  • Miss M

    He’s right. OMG my 73 year old mother who despises all reality tv except the Amazing Race, called during After the Final Rose and wanted to chat about the finale, even though she didn’t watch it but had read some online spoilers and blog comments and wanted to get my take on the outcome.

  • Ashleigh H

    “but he’s right only half of the time.”


    I think Fleiss needs to go back to school. Reality Steve’s track record is a lot better than half of the time. He’s only made 2 mistakes (Ali and Brad’s ending)which he corrected before the season finale.

    He should actually thank Steve for all the free PR.

    • jones

      Agreed. He had everything with Justin and Frank right on Ali’s season and also had the breakdown of the dates and who was eliminated this season on each episode, except the finale which he corrected before the fact. That is being right more than 1/2 the time.

    • well both of you are…

      well both of you are morons 100% of the time! ARe you serious?? YOu are defending some idiot[reality steve’s] track record??
      And uh huh, suuuure, yeah he should thank Steve for the publicity because you know, the show in its 15th run needs all the help it can get. Get. A. Life.

      • SLB

        His track record is pretty damn good. His dismissal order is always right.

      • Mellissa

        His track record is 98% correct in four seasons. I’d call that pretty much worth defending.

  • Truthhurts

    Wow just when i got done thinkin chuck lorre and simon cowell were the 2 queen douchebags of major tv this guy has to stroll in and enter the race for douchebag of the decade. A VERY good showing too!

  • Christina

    This guy is such a tool!! 1/16th cheerokee Indian…that is almost offensive if it wasn’t so lame!

    • Flyer

      I thought the same thing. The “1/16th Cherokee” claim is the standard BS used whenever someone is trying to gain credibility as a Native American or non-white. Remember when Val Kilmer was cast as a Sioux in “Thunderheart”? After comments were made about how WHITE Kilmer is (ahem), the producers said they had indeed cast a Native American in the role, because Kilmer was supposedly “part-Cherokee.” That “1/16th Cherokee” stock answer is trite and offensive – but then I wouldn’t expect anything less from Fleiss.

      • Mellissa

        It’s true. And I’m actually 1/16 Cherokee Indian. I mean, I mention it when people ask what my heritage is, but I mention it with all the other things I am. I don’t check the Native American box or anything like that.

  • Kim

    RS only got his Emily F1 info because he went to a particular board and got it. He ONLY repeated what he read, he did not report it. RS needs to give credit where it is due but he never will.

    • Dee

      Yeah. Let’s give credit where credit is due. Blondiegal from FORT said it would be Emily and Reality Steve corrected himself and ran with it.

  • LAR

    What does he mean the only professional bachelorette? Didn’t Alli have a career? I hardly think she would have left Jake’s season for her job if she was a “party planner.”

    • KLD

      She worked for Facebook.

      • Lauren

        She QUIT working for Facebook to do the show.

  • Ellie

    I enjoyed it this year alot. It was actually decent.. There was not sex and cheap scenes. It was a decent show this year and he picked a lady not a tramp

    • Old Lush

      Maybe Fleiss thought if The Bachelorette featured sex and cheap scenes, it would devalue the quality of “Bachelor Pad”.

  • SLB

    Way to be on the ball Mike Fleiss. All i’ve read is how annoying Ashley is. And people want recycled bachelors and bachellorettes? All i keep seeing is “get new blood”.

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