August 08, 2018 04:34 PM

Years before Meghan Markle became the Duchess of Sussex, Howie Mandel recognized that she had the makings of royalty.

“She was slightly duchessy,” Mandel, 62, told reporters during a Television Critics Association summer press tour panel on Wednesday about first meeting Markle, 37, on Deal or No Deal, on which she appeared as a briefcase model. The series also featured model and celebrity chef Chrissy Teigen, who earlier this year confirmed her overlap with the duchess in the show’s 2007 airings.

“That speaks to who we have now and who we had then. Not everybody will have an opportunity to meet royalty, but these are all accomplished people that have something substantial. They’re not just standing there holding a case — they have careers, they have hobbies, they have families, they’re entrepreneurial,” he said.

“So when somebody like [Prince] Harry meets somebody who just happened to be on our show, there’s a lot to offer!” he said of former Suits star Markle, who married Prince Harry in May.

Meghan Markle on Deal or No Deal
Trae Patton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank/Getty

At the end of July, Mandel, who served as the celebrated host of Deal or No Deal, announced that the NBC series is coming back in December. “I am so thrilled to announce that the all new #DealOrNoDeal is premiering DECEMBER 5 on CNBC!” he tweeted.

The primetime bargaining show, which features 26 models possessing cash amounts ranging from a single penny to $1 million, forces contestants into deciding between forgoing the potential briefcase riches in exchange for an unknown “Banker’s” offer, or stick to their instincts and risk earning some dimes and nickels.

Now, nearly 10 years after it went off the air in 2009, Mandel recognizes the significant impact the show made on him as a person.

“It has made me comfortable,” Mandel told reporters at the TCAs. “This show is humanity. I always thought I had to be something else. I always thought I had to be funny. I always thought I had to be talented to be accepted.”

“This show made me comfortable with just being a human and sharing the weaknesses and the strengths in just being human,” he said. “This show more than any other show taught me about humanity. This show is real … it’s better than it was.”

Deal or No Deal premieres Dec. 5 on CNBC.

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