Fan favorite Peter Kraus is apparently playing hard to get

Who’s the next Bachelor? Well, fans aren’t the only ones in the dark — franchise executives are also scrambling to come up with their next leading man, a source tells PEOPLE.

The Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss shocked his followers Wednesday by tweeting that fan favorite Peter Kraus — the Wisconsin personal trainer who couldn’t bring himself to propose to a frustrated Rachel Lindsay on The Bachelorette last season — is once again out of the running.

“Unfortunately, Peter probably will not be #TheBachelor …” he tweeted.

Where does that leave producers?

“They are in a full-blown panic mode,” the insider tells PEOPLE. “Peter was honestly never their first choice; they’re still mad at him because of the whole Rachel situation. But they knew he’s who the fans wanted. And the fact that they went to Peter even after they’d initially said they wouldn’t? That let Peter know he had a ton of power going into this situation.”

ABC's "Good Morning America" - 2017
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ABC had no comment.

Just as Kraus was unwilling to compromise on his core values for a picture-perfect ending with Lindsay, the source suggests he’s playing hard to get with production.

“Suddenly it was like they needed him more than he needs them — he didn’t think he was going to get it, anyway, so he doesn’t care if it all goes away again. He’s not bending on what he wants,” the source says. “Really, the producers feel like ANY demands coming from Peter are a bit much; they always think everybody should be falling all over themselves to get this honor. And Peter just doesn’t play that way. He doesn’t play by any of the rules — if he did, he’d have just proposed to Rachel even though he knew it wouldn’t work out, and then broken up with her a few months later, like Nick just did. But he couldn’t be forced into it.”

The source adds: “That might have also been a sticking point: the show likely would want him to promise to propose at the end — Nick definitely had to say he would go through with it — and it’s highly possible Peter just refused to promise, just like he refused to go ahead with Rachel.”

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“They have nowhere to turn now,” the source says, pointing to Fleiss’ previous tweet that no one from JoJo Fletcher’s season of The Bachelorette would become the new suitor; furthermore, Luke Pell “hasn’t been contacted,” Robby Hayes’ reputation took a dive during Bachelor in Paradise, Wells Adams “isn’t leading man caliber,” and Eric Bigger “doesn’t have the charisma and attitude you need.” (Last week, Bigger confirmed to PEOPLE Now he hadn’t been approached.)

“Honestly, at this point, don’t be surprised if they start begging some single B-list actors,” the source says. “This could be a throwback to the Charlie O’Donnell and Jesse Palmer seasons, all over again.”