Mandel, who hosted the game show until 2019, addressed the Duchess of Sussex’s remarks during a recent interview with Us Weekly. His comments came weeks after Meghan revealed why she quit working as a model on the program in 2006 during an episode of her Archetypes podcast.
“I didn’t like feeling forced to be all looks and little substance,” Markle said. “And that’s how it felt for me at the time being reduced to this specific archetype: the word bimbo.”
Speaking to Us, Mandel sympathised with the Duchess, as he opened up about how he felt throughout his time on the show.
“I get it because — I’ve never said this before — but they had this pyramid of 26 beautiful, intelligent women standing there just staring at me like I was a piece of meat,” the TV host explained. “I was in the centre, just dressed up in a suit and I felt like I am more than this. And they would just look at me and I had to do nothing.”
He further explained why he didn’t necessarily enjoy hosting Deal or No Deal, noting that he felt like he was only there to tell women to “open up cases”.
“I felt like nothing,” he said. “And that’s why I’ve moved on and become a judge on America’s Got Talent. I just needed more than to be a Deal or No Deal host.”
After acknowledging that the game show was “great workplace environment,” he defended Markle and said that she was just saying “what was going on in her mind” throughout her own time on Deal or No Deal. He also noted that he didn’t think that she was “mangling” the show, before describing some of the responsibilities that the models had on it.
“Unlike most shows up until that point, the ladies had more to do,” the Little Monsters star continued. “They weren’t just pointing out gifts and opening [cases], a lot of times they were mic’d and they had their input.”
“I’ve never really heard anybody complain and I don’t think Meghan is complaining,” he added. “I think Meghan just said she wanted to do more. It wasn’t fulfilling for her.”
Markle previously faced widespread criticism for her comments, with former Deal or No Deal co-star Claudia Jordan saying that the show “never treated them like bimbos” that it instead gave them “so many opportunities”.
During his conversation with Us, Mandel said that he didn’t understand why Markle was facing backlash and emphasised that he could relate to her feelings.
“So I don’t know why there is a big hoopla, except I have to say that me standing there with 26 women staring at me made me feel like a bimbo,” he added.
During her podcast episode, Markle opened up about her time on the show, with the Duchess recalling that women were forced to “line up” for beauty treatments.
“We were even given spray-tan vouchers each week because there was a very cookie cutter idea of precisely what we should look like,” she said. “It was solely about our beauty. I was surrounded by smart women on that stage with me, but that wasn’t the focus of why we were there and I would end up leaving with this pit in my stomach.”