"You've got to be joking!"
This is how The Bachelor host-pimp Chris Harrison says he reacted when Jason Mesnick told him that he changed his mind and wanted to end things with the winner, Melissa Rycroft, and reconcile with runner-up Molly Malaney.
The shocking "After the Final Rose" special, in which Jason dumped Melissa for Molly, sparked controversy, outrage, big ratings and unanswered questions.
Did the producers know? Did they orchestrate the whole thing?
Both Harrison and The Bachelor creator Mike Fleiss spoke out about it in the aftermath, and the short version is that Jason legitimately did change his mind (for reasons still unknown), but the public exchange was a total ratings stunt.
A contemplative Jason Mesnick ponders ruining Melissa Rycroft's life.
Here are some quotes from The Bachelor powers that be ...
They were just as shocked as we were: "When we left New Zealand, we were high-fiving, thinking this is great, 'People are going to love this guy and love the story,'" Chris Harrison recalls. "I talked to Jason when we got back, and things were going great. And then the next thing I hear, the producers are saying, 'He wants another shot with Molly.' And I just said, 'You've got to be kidding me!' We were all blown away."
Not their idea: "People think we wanted to pull this stunt, but we didn't!" Harrison says. "This isn't good for us. I mean, the ratings were insane and all that, but we would have much rather had him end up with Melissa and have them get married. In the long run, that's a better story for us and for the fans."
Seriously, not their idea: “It was [Jason's] choice in New Zealand who he proposed to,” says Fleiss. “But after the show wrapped, he was not in love with Melissa anymore and instead he was in love with Molly and needed to make a change.”