"They only won because they sucked so bad," Devlin tells PEOPLE of last season's contestants

By Lanford Beard
Updated June 13, 2016 12:00 PM
Credit: MTV

Are You the One? returns Monday night with a $250,000 twist that host Ryan Devlin considers “super romantic.”

This season’s newest switcheroo, which will award the contestants an extra quarter million dollars if they can spot their perfect matches within seconds, raises the stakes not only financially but also emotionally.

“To have a quarter of a million dollars on the line right out of the gate, it forces these women and men to have real, meaningful, deeper conversations and try to figure out: Is there a $250,000 connection there?” Devlin tells PEOPLE.

Much more than money, though, Devlin and the other producers were excited to introduce this twist because “there’s something super romantic about love at first sight, walking into a room and connecting with somebody and just feeling that spark.”

Devlin admits he probably could have used a similar nudge in his own life. Before he married his sister’s best friend in 2009, he confesses he was “blind to this perfect match that was right in front of my eyes – and, by the way, my wife never lets me live it down because she always had a crush on me.”

“I probably would have benefited from a Truth Booth earlier on in the relationship,” he says of the show’s signature test, which reveals whether two people are a a perfect match based on extensive testing.

“Mad Dad Ryan” Returns

While the contestants are all about finding love, but Devlin admits he wasn’t always feeling it while filming the new season. As with previous seasons, passion sometimes overrules logic and strategy, hurting the pairs’ chances to match up and take home the prize money.

Though Devlin does not know the 10 sets of perfect matches at any point before the finale reveal, he says, “I’m there to help them, and when I get frustrated and when I get mad, it’s only because they’re being dumb and getting in their own way. I really try to represent the perspective of the audience. … If these guys are being dumb, I’m really going try to get them back on course [and say], ‘It feels like you guys are blowing this thing.’ ”

He says this season’s competitors “call me ‘Dad’ when I get mad. You’re going to see Mad Dad Ryan a few times this season for sure.”

Did Last Season’s Contestants Really Win?

And no one has brought out “Mad Dad Ryan” more than the season 3 contestants, who suffered a $250,000 penalty one week by failing to identify any new matches and who went into the final matching ceremony with only three of the required 10 perfect matches to win the cash prize.

They shockingly beat the odds and took home the $750,000 prize, creating a flurry of speculation that the results had been rigged.

Though he “got blown up on Twitter,” Devlin empathically denies any behind-the-scenes interference: “There’s no letting them lose or helping them win. We are 100 percent hands-off.”

He continues, “To be perfectly honest, I felt they didn’t deserve the win, and I was kind of disappointed when they won, which is such a weird thing to say because I want people to win, but it didn’t feel like they’d really earned that win.”

He explains, “They only won because they sucked so bad that they learned enough to win. When you get a blackout, that’s a group Truth Booth. When you score so poorly at the matchup ceremony, you can go back and reverse-engineer it. If they were doing better, it’s much tougher to do that, but they were so awful that they actually learned enough to pull the frickin’ thing off at the end!”

Ones to Watch in Season 4

As the exclusive clip above shows, there are a few cast members who will make waves from the first moments of Monday’s premiere.

One of those is 24-year-old Israeli breakdancer Asaf, whom So You Think You Can Dance fans might recognize from the “Street” team in season 12.

He quickly gets into a dustup with cast mate Julia when he calls her “fatass” – though Asaf insists he’s not calling her fat because he didn’t say she “has a fat ass.” (Because apparently there is a distinction?)

Says Devlin, “What’s great about Asaf is, English isn’t his first language, so he continually puts his foot in his mouth throughout the course of this season and then kind of gives this coy little smile and says, ‘Well, you know, I’m not so good with the English.’ ”

But, says the host: “He totally knows what he’s saying – and he gets away with it! That’s the crazy thing.”

Devlin adds that Asaf saves himself by bring “positive energy” to the table.

“This is a guy who wears his heart on his sleeve, he’s in it 100 percent for this experience and to find love,” he says. “He can almost do no wrong with the house – until he does. His good will kind of runs out at a certain point, and things get pretty heated.”

On the whole, it’s a more “vulnerable and emotional” cast than in previous seasons, and Devlin teases, “There are some rally scary moments, to be perfectly honest.”

Two more players who are also bringing the heat? “I would really keep an eye on Kaylen and Gio,” says Devlin. “They have a really interesting story throughout the show, and when I spoke earlier of the passion and the emotion and the rawness of this cast, I think Kaylen and Gio separately and together, at times, really show that side of things.”

Also singling out Tori (who is “just a hell of a lot of fun”), he notes that “this cast is super solid. Every single one of them has their moment on this season.”

Are You the One? premieres Monday at 10 p.m. ET on MTV.