'Bachelor' Creator Mike Fleiss Leaving the Franchise After 21 Years and 60 Seasons

The showrunner said in a statement that the franchise will "keep this lightening in a bottle bold and moving forward" without him

Bachelor Creator Mike Fleiss Departing the Franchise After 21 Years
Photo: J Carter Rinaldi/FilmMagic

Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss has accepted his final rose.

PEOPLE can confirm that Fleiss, 58, will be leaving the franchise following the conclusion of Monday's 27th season of The Bachelor that saw Zach Shallcross get engaged to Kaity Biggar.

Claire Freeland, from the Canadian version of the show, and Bachelor U.S. producers Jason Ehrlich and Bennett Graebner will step into Fleiss's role.

"First and foremost, congratulations are in order for Zach and Kaity. I wish them a long and happy life together," Fleiss said in a statement. "I want to thank WBTV and ABC for 21 extraordinary years. 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. Let the journey continue."

Fleiss launched The Bachelor in 2002 and The Bachelorette the following year. He also created Bachelor in Paradise, The Bachelor Winter Games, Bachelor Pad, The Bachelor Presents: Listen to Your Heart and The Bachelor: The Greatest Seasons – Ever! for a total of 60 seasons across the franchise.

While Fleiss told Forbes in 2009 that making reality TV had gotten easier over the year, he said "the challenge is that people will become desensitized to even the craziest characters and storylines."

Fleiss shared that when casting for The Bachelor "you always look for someone who is good looking."

"And then someone who's not afraid to speak their mind," he added. "That unfiltered quality is really what you're looking for because if someone is trying to produce themselves it's not a reality TV show anymore. It's a bad scripted show being written by the participants and that's not fun."

RELATED VIDEO: Zach Shallcross and Kaity Biggar Say 'There's No Rush' to Get Married: 'We Have the Rest of Our Lives'

As the franchise came under fire for its lack of diversity, Fleiss explained one of the reasons the show struggled in that area.

"If 90 percent of the people who want to be on the show are white, well, that makes it challenging for us," he told Realityblurred.com in 2016. "But it's an important issue for us."

"I think we've done better lately and we're going to continue to try to make progress, and I think in the near future, you'll see a non-white lead in the show," he added.

Rachel Lindsay and Bryan Abasolo

The next year, Rachel Lindsay became the franchise's first Black lead when she handed out roses on season 13 of The Bachelorette. In 2021, The Bachelor had its first Black lead with Matt James.

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The Bachelorette returns in June when Charity Lawson, who is Black, looks for love after splitting from Shallcross.

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