Nick Viall Dumped Jen Saviano For ‘Bachelor’ Gig, So ABC Dumped Luke Pell As Producers Look For A Juan Pablo Kind Of Season

Nick Viall’s stint as The Bachelor has already resulted in several breakups — and he hasn’t even handed out any roses yet. Not only did Viall reportedly break up with his Bachelor in Paradise girlfriend, Jen Saviano, for the gig, but ABC dumped fan favorite Luke Pell in lieu of Viall at the last minute. Now, Viall’s season is already starting out with bad blood as ABC producers hope to shake things up like they did with Juan Pablo Galavis’ controversial Bachelor season.

In an interview on Detroit radio show The Ticket, Bachelor alum Lauren Himle revealed that Nick Viall was still in a relationship with his Paradise co-star Jen Saviano just days before he was cast as The Bachelor.

“I am not a big fan of [Nick]. He dated my great friend Jen on Bachelor in Paradise and they did break up on the show, but it was my understanding that they were still seeing each other after the show completed,” Himle said.

“She knew that he was kind of manipulating her towards the end. This just happened, they were solid a week ago. It’s fresh. I think he is going to have a hard time finding someone better than Jen.”

Indeed, Saviano did not seem to take the news of Nick Viall’s Bachelor casting well. After the announcement was made on After Paradise, Jen took to social media to reveal that she was skipping town.

Saviano also tweeted that she would not be turning up to try to “win” Nick Viall back during his upcoming stint on the ABC dating show, while her pal Himle reminded her that she’s too good for him anyway.

Meanwhile, Luke Pell, the fourth place finisher on JoJo Fletcher’s season of The Bachelorette, was considered a shoo-in for the job that ultimately went to Nick Viall. Pell told E! News he was blindsided by ABC’s last-minute switch to Nick after he had already signed a contract to headline the next cycle of the show.

“The decision was made apparently on Sunday, and I was supposed to fly to L.A. Monday and already had all my bags packed,” Pell said.

“They called me Sunday night and said it wasn’t me. I didn’t know who the Bachelor was—I found out with the rest of America… I felt like I didn’t deserve that. I don’t have a problem with it if they think that they have a better candidate for the show, that’s fine. But it’s the way that it was handled. Asking me to be genuine and authentic and open and vulnerable…and then I don’t get genuine and authentic in return from the organization.”

ABC executive Robert Mills told E! that Pell and fellow Bachelorette castoff Chase McNary were too similar to last season’s Bachelor star Ben Higgins, so it made more sense to cast Nick Viall in the role.

“Ben was absolutely fantastic. He had a great season, and sometimes when you follow the same with the same, you end up with something lesser,” Mills explained.

“You can say what you want, but certainly from a ratings perspective, when we followed Sean Lowe with Juan Pablo [Galavis], which was sort of a left-turn, it worked out really well for us. A lot of people watched. I remember when we announced Juan Pablo, it was like being at a rock concert.”

Indeed, like Galavis, Nick Viall is considered to be a villain on the ABC franchise, especially after he publicly called out Andi Dorfman for their overnight tryst in the Fantasy Suite during her season of The Bachelorette. It was only during his third Bachelor-related appearance–this time on BIP— that viewers warmed up to Nick.

“We started seeing people say, ‘I can’t believe this, God help me, I like Nick,’ when Bachelor in Paradise started airing,” Mills explained.

“Certainly, someone who had gone on Bachelorette twice, was the runner-up and then had gone on Bachelor in Paradise that just didn’t seem like something that was even in the realm of comprehension. But there was a lot of, ‘I really like him, and I can’t believe I’m saying this.'”

Given his history with the franchise, it’s no surprise that some people are questioning if Nick Viall is doing the show for the “right reasons.”

Just ahead of his Paradise stint, Nick Viall told Glamour that he has no regrets about his multiple returns to the ABC reality franchise.

“I really don’t have any regrets about it. Bachelor Nation has not always been kind, but I’ve never wanted to have past experiences dictate or have a negative effect on how I make future choices,” Viall said.

“There are so many opinions about me, I don’t know. You know, I think at least maybe the best way to answer that is that I come in here with a reputation…A lot of people say I’m a lot nicer as a person than they thought I was…For the people who do get to know me, they tend to be a little surprised [by that].”

Still, Nick Viall may have his work cut out for him as he sets out to headline the franchise’s longest-running show. Twitter had plenty of reaction to ABC’s polarizing pick, with some comparing Nick to the dreaded Juan Pablo, who holds the title as the most disliked Bachelor star of all time.

Take a look at the video below for more on Nick Viall’s controversial Bachelor stint.

[Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images]