Bachelor Creator Responds to Reports He Left Franchise After Racial Discrimination Investigation

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Earlier this week, Bachelor Nation was rocked to the core when it was revealed that Mike Fleiss, the creator, was bowing out after 21 years.

At the time, Fleiss released a statement in which he thanked Warner Bros. Television and ABC.

"They've found the perfect creative team for me to entrust The Bachelor franchise and keep this lightening in a bottle bold and moving forward," he said.

 Mike Fleiss from "The Other One: The Long, Strange Trip of Bob Weir" poses for the Tribeca Film Festival

"Let the journey continue."

Days later, new details have emerged about what reportedly went on behind the scenes of the popular franchise.

Mike Fleiss attends the "The Other One: The Long, Strange Trip of Bob Weir" Premiere

Variety reports that Fleiss' sudden exit came after an investigation into allegations of racial discrimination.

According to the report, the investigation included accounts of producers on the show about Fleiss pushing back on bringing diversity to the franchise.

Unnamed staffers also opened up about "bullying" tactics he would use.

"People said he would retaliate against people for having minorities and Black people on the show," a source told the outlet.

 Director Mike Fleiss from "The Other One: The Long, Strange Trip of Bob Weir" poses

"He favored certain people over other people. He would say, 'Minorities don't get ratings.'

Fleiss responded to the report, saying that "times have certainly changed" since the franchise burst onto the scene 21 years ago.

"I had no idea back in 2002 that we were building a pop culture juggernaut," Fleiss explained in a statement.

"It was a crazy idea then and sure as hell continues to roll — just look at every network and streamer that has ripped us off!"

Executive Producer Mike Fleiss arrives at The Hollywood Radio & Television Society Presents "The Unscripted Hitmakers"

"Since its premiere 21 years ago, times have certainly changed and I'd have to say we didn't keep up with the pace of those changes," Fleiss shared.

"I am proud of the work we've done over the past five years to make the show substantially more diverse, but I do believe I could have done more."

"Hopefully, the franchise will continue to move in the right direction."

"Judging by the number of staff weddings we've hosted at our home and the number of teary messages that blew up my phone when I announced I had turned in my final rose, I'm pretty sure I had more good days than bad, lifted more spirits than hurt feelings and leave the franchise in good hands, with more friends than foe."

Bachelor veterans Claire Freeland, Jason Ehrlich, and Bennett Graebner will take over as showrunners.

The main series wrapped its 27th season earlier this week, and the franchise will resume in the summer with the return of The Bachelorette.

Paul Dailly is the Associate Editor for TV Fanatic. Follow him on X.

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