"I embraced my inner Chenbot because I realized all the criticism was dead-on," the TV personality tells PEOPLE

By Patrick Gomez
Updated June 24, 2015 07:15 AM
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Julie Chen knows you call her names, and she’s fine with it.

In fact, the host of Big Brother and The Talk has truly embraced the fact that she is known to some fans as “The Chenbot.”

“When we first put Big Brother on the air, we had to let the viewers know what was going on. So it was very much, like, ‘Jane and Dick were fighting over the pasta, but first it was Allie and Ryan who were really at the center of the drama,’ ” Chen tells PEOPLE.

“We realized that, week after week … we always needed that ‘but first’ to let the viewers know, ‘Oh, but this is what we’ve really got to listen to.’ ”

When Big Brother premiered in 2000, Chen was still an anchor on CBS Morning News, a job that she says influenced her speech pattern on the reality competition.

“I was used to my news [personality, where I wasn’t supposed] to show anyone how I feel about anything,” says Chen. “My friend called me and said, ‘You know they call you ‘The Chenbot’ because you deliver that line, ‘But first,’ the same exact way week after week.”

“‘Oh my God! I am The Chenbot,’ ” Chen says she conceded. “Then I embraced my inner Chenbot because I realized all the criticism was dead-on.”

Season 17 of Big Brother – which features the show’s first transgender contestant – premieres Wednesday at 8 p.m. ET on CBS.