Jillian Michaels is returning to The Biggest Loser after a two-year absence, and the show’s fourteenth season will also feature young teens for the first time ever. Kids ages 13-17 are getting the chance to shed pounds — though they won’t be competing for the titular prize.
NBC announced today that Michaels will be back when Loser returns in January, with a few additional twists. The biggest one: Adult contestants will be split into three teams, each of which will also feature one overweight teenage participant. The teens will compete with and contribute to their teams, but they won’t be eligible for elimination. Each unit will be overseen by one of three trainers: Bob Harper, Dolvett Quince, and Michaels.
“As a former overweight teen, I know firsthand how dramatically weight issues can affect every aspect of a child’s life,” Michaels said in a statement. “Having recently become a mother of two, I am more passionate than ever about helping empower children and families with the information and resources they need to live a healthier life.”
Can these new gimmicks help The Biggest Loser gain back viewers? The show has been in a ratings free fall for the past few years, bottoming out in 2011 with Season 12, which averaged only 6.93 million viewers (versus 10.41 million in 2009′s Season 8). The show’s numbers have been particularly low since Michaels left in May 2011.