Jillian Michaels is speaking out for the first time about leaving "The Biggest Loser." Michaels cited "fundamental differences" with producers as the reason for her exit.
Specifically, Jillian said she got tired of being portrayed as mean-spirited and abusive to her clients. "There were some fundamental differences that have existed for a while," Michaels told People.
Michaels said the show increasingly focused on her "tough love" approach as overly harsh instead of helpful. "You saw none of the relationships, none of the bonds that I built with my clients," she said. "[As a result of this editing] millions of people have this warped, negative perception of me."
Michaels was one of the original trainers when "The Biggest Loser" first aired in 2004. She left the show in 2010 and returned in 2012. This past season (season 15), Jillian came under fire after giving caffeine pills to her team in violation of "The Biggest Loser" rules of competition.
At the time, Michaels accused producers of playing up the drama to boost ratings. Jillian said she still deals with the fallout from that incident. Jillian's daughter was teased at camp by another girl who said the following, "I know who your mom is – she's a cheater. I saw it on TV."
Jillian Blamed Dolvett Quince For Anorexia Scandal
A bigger controversy occurred on the show's finale, when Rachel Frederickson won after losing 155 pounds. The 5-foot-4 Frederickson, who previously weighed 260 pounds, slimmed down to 105 pounds by the season finale (on Feb. 5).
Rachel's emaciated appearance stirred rumors she was suffering from the eating disorders anorexia or bulimia, and drew alarmed reactions from both Michaels and her colleague, Bob Harper.
Jillian later blamed Frederickson's trainer, Dolvett Quince, for the anorexia controversy, saying he didn't properly supervise Frederickson to ensure she lost weight in a healthy manner. Jillian said she stays in touch with her contestants after they leave the Biggest Loser ranch to monitor their progress, so Quince should have been kept tabs to make sure Rachel's weight loss wasn't extreme or unhealthy.
Rachel has vehemently denied the anorexia reports, and has since regained 20 pounds, and Quince insisted Frederickson did not starve herself, but lost weight the healthy way.
Frederickson's super-skinny appearance caused outrage among "Biggest Loser" fans, who said selecting someone who looks unhealthy as the winner sends the wrong message. Show executives responded to the criticism by saying they will tweak the weight-loss competition to provide more check-ins for the contestants after they leave the Biggest Loser ranch.
Given all the drama from the past season, Michaels said her decision to leave was simple. "I came to the conclusion that moving forward, I need to be able to have an impact on the outcome of what I do," she said.
"I don't want fans to think I feel like I'm too big for the show or that I'm seeking greener pastures. I'm so grateful to the show and so sad to leave."