The creator of The Bachelor left the franchise this week after being accused of racial discrimination, according to a new report.
Mike Fleiss, creator and executive producer of the long-running reality show, confirmed his surprise departure this week, thanking ABC "for 21 extraordinary years." But Variety now reports he departed the Bachelor franchise after Warner Bros. Television conducted an "investigation into allegations of racial discrimination."
According to Variety, the probe was sparked by employee complaints accusing Fleiss of bullying and resistance to increased diversity on the show. Those who spoke to investigators alleged Fleiss lashed out at suggestions of casting more diverse stars, and one source told Variety, "People said he would retaliate against people for having minorities and Black people on the show. He favored certain people over other people. He would say, 'Minorities don't get ratings.'" Deadline confirmed that Warner Bros. TV investigated "claims of alleged racist behavior as well as verbal and emotional abuse against Fleiss."
In a statement to Variety and Deadline, Fleiss admitted that since he created the show in 2002, "Times have certainly changed and I'd have to say we didn't keep up with the pace of those changes." He added, "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." The Bachelor only had its first Black lead in 2021 with Matt James.
But in his statement, Fleiss pointed to the "number of teary messages that blew up my phone" when he announced his departure as evidence that "I had more good days than bad" and "lifted more spirits than hurt feelings." According to Variety, the producer, who was previously accused of attacking his pregnant wife, will still be credited as the franchise's creator going forward.